Is It Time to Call a Heroin Hotline?
Overcoming addiction to heroin is not only challenging for the person struggling with the problem, but also for those in their social circle.1
In addition to taking its toll on a person’s health, drug addiction interferes with the ability to function normally, maintain a normal healthy life, and have healthy relationships with friends and family. It changes a person’s normal desires, priorities and behaviors, and these changes can be difficult to undo.2
All this sounds even more intimidating against a backdrop of an opioid addiction epidemic that continues to grip the U.S., as illustrated by a staggering number of opioid overdose-related deaths.1
However, a simple phone call to a specialized heroin helpline number for a confidential conversation can bring those struggling with heroin addiction one step closer to starting treatment.
How Do Heroin Addiction Helplines Work?
Drug addiction helplines and similar hotlines serve as treatment and prevention resources for individuals struggling with alcohol or other forms of substance use disorders (SUD), as well as the accompanying mental health issues. They may also provide resources to those who are looking for ways to help others in their surroundings.3
In addition to evidence-based health and wellness information on the abuse of substances and complications of SUDs, these helplines provide guidance and possibly referrals to treatment-seeking individuals.3
Which National Hotlines Can I Call for Help with Heroin Addiction?
There is a growing demand for specialized helplines and similar resources which are easily accessible to treatment-seeking individuals and their friends and family.2
Helplines may recommend a treatment plan for abuse of prescription opioids or illicit opioids which can incorporate the following elements:3
- Inpatient rehabilitation
- Supportive housing
- Self-help and support groups
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA):3 1-800-662-4357
This national English and Spanish-speaking toll-free helpline is available 24/7. In addition to providing information on substance abuse, mental health disorders, co-occurring disorders, and associated treatment options, this helpline offers referrals to treatment facilities, support groups, and community-based services, and distributes free publications to individuals struggling with substance use and mental health issues and anyone looking to help.
Which Other National Helplines Can I Call?
Some other national helplines to call for help with addiction to opioids and other forms of substance abuse, including information on treating addiction to marijuana and alcohol, mental health disorders, and suicide prevention are listed below:
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1 (800) 273-82554
- Boys Town: 1 (800) 448-3000, 1 (800) 448-1833 (for the speech and hearing-impaired), or text VOICE to 201215
- Covenant House Nineline:1 (800) 388-38886
- National Alliance on Mental Illness: 1 (800) 950-NAMI or 1 (800) 950-62647
- Partnership to End Addiction: schedule a call, send an e-mail, or text CONNECT to 557538
- Alcohol and Drug Help Line: 1 (206) 722-3700 (not toll-free)9
Frequently Asked Questions
Recovery from heroin addiction is an ongoing, lifelong journey, but just like each journey, it begins by taking the first step.1 For many, calling a heroin hotline such as SAMHSA’s National Helpline is that first step. Hotlines are anonymous and confidential yet valuable and easily accessible resources that can provide treatment-seeking individuals with the necessary information to make an informed decision regarding treatment.3
Calling a heroin helpline is a simple, convenient and straightforward way to receive accurate, reliable, up-to-date information on heroin addiction treatment and discuss treatment options in a secure environment.3
Hotline services are available to anyone struggling with heroin addiction and associated disorders, including those individuals who have a dual diagnosis and need to have a private conversation with helpline representatives who can provide information on co-occurring disorder treatment.10
Calling a heroin helpline can be a helpful first step for treatment-seeking individuals who are unsure how to start treatment for addiction to cocaine, heroin, or other substances, as well as for the immediate social circle of individuals struggling with addiction who may need support to start treatment.3
If you suspect that a loved one is struggling with addiction, pay attention to the following warning signs:11
- Denial of the problem
- Lying and deceitful behavior
- Continuation of drug-seeking and drug-taking behaviors despite negative consequences
- Potentially drastic changes in normal behavior
- Emotional changes: mood swings, personality changes, impaired judgment
- Family relationship change: avoidance, lying, stealing, and violence
- Social changes: alienation from non-abusers, lying, breaking promises, lack of interest in activities other than seeking and taking drugs
- Financial problems
- Legal problems
Calling a heroin addiction hotline is secure, confidential, and anonymous.3 Callers may be required to provide personal information for the purpose of checking the treatment-seeking individual’s insurance coverage, finding nearest local resources, or making treatment recommendations, but the information is not collected, maintained, or disclosed to any third parties.3
Heroin addiction hotline representatives typically answer questions about:12
- Eligibility criteria for addiction treatment.
- Types of heroin addiction treatment programs available.
- Details on the process of detoxification.
- Duration and overview of addiction treatment programs.
- Requirements and limitations of various treatment programs.
- Treatment costs and insurance coverage.
- Possible scenarios in case of relapse.
A heroin addiction hotline representative will need sufficient input from the caller in order to provide them with information about suitable treatment options.12 However, the conversation is always confidential and no finding discovered during the conversation will be disclosed without the caller’s explicit consent.12
For drug addiction hotlines to fulfill their intended purpose, they needed to be easily accessible to anyone in need of information, guidance, and support. This is why most of these hotlines are both toll-free and open 24/7.12 If charges do apply, the information will normally be displayed on the website.
If someone close to you may be at risk for opioid use disorder or already faces an ongoing battle with the condition, they may also be at risk of an overdose. To help, you can:13
- Learn to recognize the warning signs of substance abuse.
- Learn more about heroin and other opioids, withdrawal syndrome, relapse rates, addiction treatment options, etc.
- Learn to recognize withdrawal symptoms, signs of relapse, etc.
- Learn how to prevent overdose and how to respond to a suspected overdose.
- Search for appropriate care and treatment options for individuals.
- Increase awareness of overdose prevalence and share best practices on overdose prevention with your community.
Even if your loved one is unwilling to cooperate and undergo addiction treatment does not mean that you cannot set out to search for the diverse treatment options available, and calling a specialized drug addiction hotline is a good way to start searching.14
Additionally, treatment plans can be adjusted to a person’s changing needs and modified as they become more engaged in the recovery process.14
A hotline representative can present you with a wide range of treatment programs available and help you navigate the available resources for finding substance use treatment and rehabilitation services.12
Most national helplines are toll-free and some are also available 24/7.12
A hotline is a confidential resource available to individuals and family members facing substance abuse and mental health issues, but an overdose requires a more immediate direct action as it may lead to brain damage or death.15
Signs and symptoms of an opioid overdose include:15
- Small, constricted “pinpoint pupils”.
- Falling asleep or loss of consciousness.
- Slow, shallow breathing.
- Choking or gurgling sounds.
- Limp body.
- Pale, blue, or cold skin.
These signs and symptoms can be difficult to distinguish from the symptoms of heroin intoxication, but it is always safer to treat the situation as an overdose and act fast.15
Individuals who are experiencing or suspecting overdose in another should dial 911 immediately.16 Heroin overdose can be fatal and 911 is the only reliable resource in case of such life-threatening situations.
After calling 911, it is important to:15
- Administer naloxone, if available.
- Try to keep the person awake and breathing.
- Lay the person on their side to prevent choking.
- Stay by the person’s side until the arrival of the emergency personnel.
1. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2014). Heroin: Research Report Series.
2. National Institute on Mental Health. (2016). Substance Use and Mental Health.
3. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). (2021). National Helpline.
4. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. (2020). National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
5. Boys Town. (2020). Boys Town National Hotline.
6. Covenant House. (2021). Covenant House Nineline.
7. National Alliance on Mental Illness. (2021). National Alliance on Mental Illness Home Page.
8. Partnership to End Addiction. (2020). Get One-on-One Help to Address Your Child’s Substance Use.
9. Alcohol and Drug Help Line. (2013). Alcohol and Drug Help Line.
10. National Alliance on Mental Illness. (2020). Substance Use Disorders.
11. A. Sarkar. (2004). Characteristics of Drug-Dependent People.
12. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2021). Frequently Asked Questions.
13. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020). Help and Resources.
14. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2014). Drugs, Brains, and Behavior: The Science of Addiction.