First Choice Services has taken over operation of the West Virginia Prescription Drug Abuse Quitline from the West Virginia University School of Medicine.
"We are excited for the opportunity to continue the operation of this tool that is so vital in the fight against prescription drug abuse in our state," Steve Burton, chief executive officer of First Choice Services, said. "We want to build on the successful foundation the quitline has established the last three years and provide a tool to help solve the growing prescription drug abuse problem in the state."
The success First Choice has had in helping 10,000 problem gamblers in West Virginia over a decade through the Problem Gamblers Help Network, which includes a gambling addiction helpline, led to the request for First Choice to take over the Prescription Drug Abuse Quitline. Both services will draw on First Choice's extensive network of mental health professionals.
The quitline connects persons in need of substance abuse services or family members to a network of mental health providers. While the line is not a service provider, it is a single point of entry for those in need of help.
The West Virginia Prescription Drug Abuse Quitline was created in 2008 with funding obtained through a settlement the state of West Virginia obtained from Purdue Pharma, a prescription drug company, for its aggressive marketing of the drug OxyContin. The funding from the settlement ceased in June 2011.
"We are currently looking for funding opportunities to sustain the quitline," Burton said. "This is a tool the state cannot afford to lose, and we are exploring both public and private funding options to continue its success."
First Choice needs $300,000 in annual funding to maintain operation of the quitline. The company will seek funding from the Legislature and private sources. The funding will be used to sustain the quitline and its resources, as well as support outreach to communities across the state about the quitline.
About $70,000 remains from the initial court settlement, which should allow continued operation of the line for the next several months with limited outreach.
The WVU School of Medicine through the Department of Community Medicine will be involved in the future of the West Virginia Prescription Drug Abuse Quitline. That involvement will occur through ongoing data management and analysis to evaluate the success of the project and collect data on individuals affected by prescription drug abuse. The data will be published periodically in an effort to improve services for this at-risk population.
The West Virginia Prescription Drug Abuse Quitline is a confidential resource for prescription drug abusers and their family members. The services of the quitline include: referral to treatment centers, setting appointments at help centers, self-help materials, and listening to callers' issue. All quitline educators are qualified and trained in addiction and recovery services.
More information on the West Virginia Prescription Drug Abuse Quitline is available online at www.wvrxabuse.org or by phone at 1-866-987-8488.