The Tennessee Association of Alcohol, Drug & Other Addiction Services (TAADAS) has enhanced the services of the Tennessee Redline, its addiction and mental health information hotline, to provide better support to callers about treatment and recovery options offered statewide. The next enhancement is scheduled to be in place by April 2019, when the Tennessee Redline staff will be able to text directly with callers.
The texting piece is part TAADAS’s ongoing effort to engage with Tennesseans in need, said Mary-Linden Salter, executive director of the association.
“I think the urgency for further engagement has in certain respects always been there,” Salter said, “but the opioid epidemic and the nature of overdose these days has gotten the public’s attention.”
With new state funding and consultations with the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, TAADAS rethought its engagement efforts to come up with the “warm handoff,” a process for callers deemed high-risk, including those who are pregnant, using intravenous drugs, or have a history of overdose.
As part of the “warm handoff,” callers are encouraged to stay on the line while staff transfers them directly to a treatment provider. TAADAS hired several new staffers with peer recovery experience to offer the encouragement needed for high-risk callers to stay on the line and accept the transfer.
“Texting was always part of the plan when we started the warm handoffs,” said Salter, “but we took a slow approach in order to add the tech capacity for texting.”
About Tennessee Redline (1-800-889-9789)
Tennessee Redline was launched in 1989 to provide accurate information and referrals to all Tennesseans with alcohol, drug, problem gambling, and other physical, addiction, and mental health issues. Initially funded by the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services and managed by TAADAS, the Redline features help from a live person 24 hour a day, seven days a week.
Tennessee Redline staff does not provide therapy or counseling, but instead refers callers to treatment providers who can provide a diagnosis or assessment of the mental and physical health of the caller or person in need.
“A lot of what we do is meant for people in the pre-contemplation phase,” Salter said. “They’re not necessarily ready to enter rehab, but they’re available to the idea of getting help. With Redline, these people are able to explore their options without fear of losing their job or getting into criminal trouble. That’s huge.”
More about the toll-free Tennessee Redline (1-800-889-9789) can be found here.