New Website Helps People Find Addiction Treatment Services

By Paul Gaita 12/13/18

The live, online resource helps connect individuals and family members seeking addiction treatment options and related services throughout Pennsylvania.

Woman using website to find help with opioid addiction treatment services.

A series of simple questions may be a crucial link for Pennsylvania residents struggling with drug dependency.

The Drug and Alcohol Referral Tool (DART) is a live, online resource that can connect individuals and family members seeking addiction treatment options and related services in their area. Visitors answer 9 yes-or-no questions on age, county, history of dependency on drugs or alcohol, military service and other criteria. Their answers then generate contacts for county-specific treatment or support, which has been an ongoing goal of Governor Tom Wolf's administration.

As The Daily Item noted, DART is an extension of Pennsylvania's Get Help Now Hotline (800-662-HELP), which connects individuals in need with trained professionals. Though the hotline received 35,000 calls over the last two years, Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs Secretary Jen Smith said, "What we've heard was the hotline wasn't really enough."

To accommodate the need for resources, the department, working in conjunction with the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services, launched DART on December 6, 2018. The online questionnaire, which is anonymous and can be translated into more than 100 languages, asks visitors if they are inquiring for themselves or a loved one.

From there, they are asked to click yes or no to answer nine questions, two of which – age and county – are mandatory. The rest, which cover the individual's military service, history of drug, alcohol or gambling abuse, and need for legal and/or transportation services, are optional.

Upon completing the questions, respondents are then provided with a list of resources in their area, based on their answers. These include substance dependency and mental health office phone numbers, links to health and human services programs through the state's COMPASS network based on income and a map of Drug Take Back boxes, among other options. Eligibility for programs is not assessed by DART, but users can be directed to additional information on qualifications.

Income, transportation and living situation are included on the questionnaire because the problems are often hand-in-hand. "Substance use disorders often occur when a person experiences other medical and behavioral health concerns, and they may need additional resources to live stable, healthy life in recovery," said Human Services Secretary Teresa Miller. "Connecting people seeking treatment to comprehensive services that can help meet all of their needs from the start is critical as they work towards recovery."

Inclusive tools like DART are a crucial part of Wolf's plan to aid his state, which as of 2017 had the highest rate of drug overdose mortalities in the United States. DART is just one of several initiatives being rolled out to promote Stop Overdoses in PA: Get Help Now Week, which takes place December 10 through 14, 2018.

"A common concern that we have heard throughout the commonwealth is that individuals aren't aware of the services and supports available to them," said Smith. "[DART] will allow individuals to have critical information on where to go and how to access the services they need."

Please read our comment policy. - The Fix

Paul Gaita lives in Los Angeles. He has contributed to the Los Angeles Times, Variety, LA Weekly, and The Los Angeles Beat, among many other publications and websites.