United Way launches opioid text service to combat addiction, overdose in counties

By Jessica Johnston, Reporter

Accessing opioid information and resources is now at the community’s fingertips after United Way launched a texting service to combat addiction and overdose on July 2.

“With substance abuse and opioid addiction on the rise, United Way of Muskingum, Perry and Morgan Counties (MPM) is now offering a new texting platform to get area residents connected with resources and information on opioids,” the non-profit’s press release stated.

The 2-1-1 service is a nation-wide texting service through United Way that confidentially connects people to local resources in their community. That service is offered in roughly 66 other counties outside of Muskingum, Perry and Morgan Counties, Becky Clawson, United Way of MPM Community Impact Director, said. About five counties in Ohio are providing the opioid service through the 2-1-1 platform.

“Here we are seeing that people are needing connected to services and even if you are a family member of someone who is struggling with addiction, these resources could help you,” Clawson said. “That’s why this is so timely as the opioid crisis has really hit the peak here.”

Residents of the area can text 898211 to access four different avenues through the text service: general opioid use information, resources for people who may be concerned about someone they know using opioids, resources for someone who is addicted to opioids themselves and information for professionals and those who provide services.

“I’ve tested it twice in Muskingum and Perry County so far,” Clawson said. “It’s worked really well. Within two minutes and maybe four text messages on my part I had all the information I asked for. And, in a few days, I received a follow-up text to make sure that I got connected to the information that I needed.”

The 2-1-1 opioid texting service will follow-up with anonymous users up-to 130 days after use to make sure people got connected with the information or services they needed. People can opt out of receiving the follow-up texts at any time.

The text line does have some pre-designed workflows to peruse, but it is manned by 2-1-1 information and referral specialists at all times.

United Way has partnered with the Muskingum County Health Department and the non-profit’s mental health partners in the communities to get the word out that there is help and connect people to necessary services in an anonymous way, Clawson said.

The text line will refer people to the closest service to them or in their county in order to bring help and resources close to home.

The service also allows multiple spellings of the word “opioid” to ensure that incorrect spelling does not hinder anyone’s access to resources.