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Posted on: April 19, 2016

Westmoreland County’s Substance Abuse Helpline Goes Live April 20, 2016

Westmoreland County Substance Abuse Helpline

(Greensburg, PA – April 19, 2016) – Westmoreland Community Action announces that the county’s first helpline dedicated solely to drug and alcohol issues will go live on Wednesday, April 20.

Those with substance abuse questions or concerns can call toll-free 1-844-897-8927 from 7:00 pm to 2:00 am, seven days a week, 365 days a year, for treatment referrals and/or general information on resources.

Funding for the first operating year of the helpline has been provided by a generous grant from the Allegheny Foundation in support of the Westmoreland County Drug Overdose Task Force (DOTF). The DOTF, launched in 2013, is a community-based multi-year project whose mission is to dramatically reduce the number of overdose deaths in our community. In 2015, there were 126 confirmed overdose deaths in Westmoreland County; this dramatically surpassed 2014’s rate of 87. To date, in 2016, there are 22 confirmed overdose deaths, with another 16 pending an investigation.

Tay Waltenbaugh, CEO of Westmoreland Community Action, feels that “the Substance Abuse Helpline is a piece of the puzzle to help address D&A issues we have in Westmoreland County. This helpline is a part of the strategy laid out by the DOTF and thankfully financially supported by the Allegheny Foundation. Answering questions, giving guidance and helping connect those to treatment will be priorities.”

Everyone involved with getting the helpline off the ground is thrilled to see it happen, including Westmoreland County Commissioner Gina Cerilli. "I am very excited to learn that the helpline is ready to debut. It is another tool that the community can use to fight our drug epidemic in Westmoreland County. I expect the helpline to be a great asset to families that are affected by this disease."

Colleen D. Hughes, Executive Director, Westmoreland Drug and Alcohol Commission, Inc., explains where future funding will come from to sustain the helpline. “Upon request of Westmoreland Drug and Alcohol Commission, Inc. the Westmoreland Behavioral Health Choices Medicaid Program, facilitated by Southwest Behavioral Health Management, Inc., agreed to provide two years of funding for the helpline. The two-year funding block will be supervised by the Westmoreland Drug and Alcohol Commission. This two-year block will assure the future of the helpline by starting as the Allegheny Foundation funding is depleted. Decisions regarding funding beyond the two years will be made based upon the utilization of the helpline and availability of funding to SBHM.”

Phone calls to the helpline will be prioritized for follow-up on a case by case basis. Call center support staff will collect data on every call received. This data will be reviewed monthly to determine the effectiveness of the helpline.

Tim Phillips, Director of the Westmoreland County DOTF, agrees that this helpline is critical. “This is a resource greatly needed in the community to assist individuals and families in need of guidance with issues surrounding substance abuse.”

Visit Westmoreland County Drug Overdose Task Force
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