PARKERSBURG - Westbrook Health Services Inc. announced Wednesday it will be accepting referrals from the West Virginia Prescription Drug Abuse Quitline.
The quitline, accessed by calling 1-866-WV-QUITT, is now operated by First Choice Health Systems and offers information, support, treatment and addiction services to those addicted to prescription medications and their families.
"Back in April we started a process of transitioning the toll free 1-866-WV-QUITT prescription hotline from the West Virginia University School of Medicine to our First Choice Health Systems offices in Charleston. We are really excited to have this opportunity. We also have had the Problem Gamblers Help Network since 1999. WVU said the funds were running out for the Quit hotline and we thought it was important to continue the service," said Steve Burton, chief executive officer for First Choice Health Systems, during a press conference at Westbrook on Wednesday.
Photo by Pamela Brust
Darby Stevens, program director with Westbrook Health Services Inc., said the nonprofit center will receive referrals from the hotline when community services are needed.
"In 2004, a study came out indicating overdose due to prescription drug abuse went up 500 percent and West Virginia leads the nation in prescription drug abuse overdoses per capita, so we know the hotline is badly needed and we need to continue it," Burton said.
"Westbrook is one of our shareholders, and we are excited to have them as one of our major providers of treatment with the prescription drug abuse hotline."
"Westbrook Health Services will begin accepting referrals now from the hotline. The Quit line will call us and we can then set the client up for services. We will assist the hotline to get the client in as soon as possible; it could be a family member who has questions or concerns about getting services for their loved ones. We look forward to meeting the needs of the area with regard to these services," said Darby Stevens, program director, Westbrook Health Services.
Burton said through the hotline, clinical coordinators will be available in Charleston to refer callers and their loved ones out for services in their own communities.
"With this program, we are giving them a single point of entry, and we have individuals trained in the field and in their community who know what resources are available to them," Burton said. "This goes beyond treatment. We've seen what drug abuse does to our communities. The quitline will also be an educational tool, we'll have informational campaigns to educate the public about what's happening with prescription drug abuse in their community."
First Choice Services is seeking $300,000 in additional funding, private and public, to establish a long-term partnership to operate the quitline. This funding will be used to support the quitline and reach out to educate law enforcement, physicians, religious entities, counselors, schools, and other community organizations about the resources of the quitline. There also will be a public campaign across the state's communities to educate residents about the West Virginia Prescription Drug Abuse Quitline and its resources to benefit those suffering from prescription drug abuse and their families. This resource will assist in connecting individuals with treatment providers and available community resources but is not funding for treatment, officials said.
Drug overdose is the leading cause of death for West Virginians under age 45. In 2008, West Virginia had the highest rate of prescription drug overdose deaths in the U.S. surpassing both motor vehicle crashes and falls as the leading cause of accidental death. In 2008 and 2009, several studies found West Virginia to have the highest prescription drug use rate with 18.4 prescription drugs filled per capita. The national average was 11.6 prescriptions. It is estimated 152,000 West Virginians over 18 have substance abuse problems. There were more than 8,000 illicit drug arrests in 2009 in West Virginia.
The quitline was funded for the past three years through the West Virginia Education Fund through a settlement from the Purdue Pharma litigation. The quitline was operated by the WVU School of Medicine from 2008-2011. First Choice Services began overseeing the quitline in December 2011.
Westbrook is a nonprofit corporation that offers behavioral health services to children and adults in an eight-county area. The agency began serves in 1949 in Parkersburg. It is headquartered on Seventh Street.