An innovative program designed to help curb opioid misuse was announced Tuesday, July 12, in Kentucky and four other states by the Partnership to End Addiction.
Operation UNITE (Unlawful Narcotics Investigations, Treatment and Education, Inc.), with support from Walmart, has been selected to coordinate this pilot program across the Commonwealth of Kentucky. UNITE, a non-profit organization based in Southeastern Kentucky, is a collaborative model striving to prevent substance misuse and facilitate recovery.
“Prevention is the most effective tool to avoid problems resulting from opioid misuse,” said Nancy Hale, President & CEO of Operation UNITE. “UNITE is pleased to take the lead for this project in Kentucky.”
RxAware is a personalized text messaging program that educates parents, caregivers and individuals on opioid medication safety and non-addictive pain relievers. After texting RXAWARE to 55753, participants will answer a short series of questions about their own – or a loved one’s – pain management needs. Following the assessment, the participant will receive personalized messages vetted by health professionals that provide educational information, resources, and actionable support.
With support from Walmart, RxAware is being launched this summer in Kentucky, Idaho, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee. Local organizations in each state have partnered with Partnership to End Addiction to share this resource with residents in their states.
UNITE will be engaging a wide range of partners statewide to promote the RxAware campaign, Hale said. A kick-off event to explain the project to partners, share a digital toolkit, and answer questions is being planned for early August.
One aspect of the Kentucky campaign will be to increase awareness of the free services provided by the KY HELP Statewide Call Center.
The KY HELP Statewide Call Center—1-8338-KY-HELP (1-833-859-4357) – staffed by Operation UNITE, provides personalized, compassionate assistance and resources to Kentuckians seeking help for a substance use disorder. In addition, staff members offer comfort, support and guidance to family members confronted with a loved one’s addiction. KY HELP specialists provide crisis management and guide clients in making informed decisions about treatment. Outreach services are provided for up to one year.
Screening and Referral Specialists are available Monday-Friday from 8:30 am to 10 pm (EDT) and Saturday-Sunday from 8:30 am to 5 pm (EDT). Since December 2017, the KY HELP Statewide Call Center has responded to 17,738 calls from residents in 119 of Kentucky’s 120 counties.
Partnership to End Addiction, a national nonprofit, is uniquely positioned to reach, engage, and help families impacted by addiction. They offer a range of free, evidence-based support services for people who are helping loved ones struggling with addiction.
“As a country, we are shattering record after record for overdose deaths. We need to do everything we can to reverse this epidemic,” said Marcia Lee Taylor, Chief External and Government Relations Officer at Partnership to End Addiction. “Our RxAware tool will empower people with information about alternatives to opioids for pain management as well as what they can do to prevent addiction and overdose. Knowledge is power and we are grateful to our partners who are helping us to reach families around the country.”
In June, the Kentucky Justice and Public Safety Cabinet released a report indicating 2,250 Kentuckians died from drug overdoses in 2021 – a 14.5% increase over the previous year. Approximately 70% of all overdose deaths was driven primarily by an increased use of fentanyl.
“RxAware provides another opportunity to share factual information and resources with the citizens of the Commonwealth through our vast network of partners,” Hale said. “This collaboration creates additional avenues to prevent addiction and overdoses, and ultimately to save lives.”
Partnership to End Addiction offers a range of free, evidence-based support services for people who are helping loved ones struggling with addiction. Some resources include:
• Help & Hope by Text: Personalized support and information provided by text message.
• Partnership’s one-on-one support: Support from trained and caring specialists who are ready to listen, answer questions and help people navigate whatever issues they are facing.
• Online support community: Regular online sessions held by trained specialists who share guidance on addressing substance use and related issues.
• Peer support program (parent coaching): Personalized emotional support and expertise from trained parents who have personal experience supporting loved ones with addiction.
• Digital and media resources: Original information and guidance, ranging from prevention to recovery.
For more information about Operation UNITE initiatives, please visit their website at OperationUNITE.org. For more information on Partnership to End Addiction, visit drugfree.org.
In 2003, U.S. 5th District Congressman Harold “Hal” Rogers (R-Somerset) worked to create Operation UNITE, a regional anti-drug initiative empowering citizens groups and community leaders in 32 southern and eastern Kentucky counties. UNITE, which stands for Unlawful Narcotics Investigations, Treatment & Education, is a collaborative model striving to prevent abuse of drugs and facilitate recovery. We create strategic partnerships, provide leadership, promote education, coordinate treatment, and support law enforcement. For more information contact Nancy Hale at 1-866-678-6483.
UNITE Drug Tip Hotline
UNITE Treatment Help Line
KY HELP Statewide Call Center