“Help & Hope by Text” Customized Messaging Platform Provides Evidence-Based Strategies to Help Empower Parents to Communicate; Motivate Their Kids

~The Partnership for Drug-Free Kids Launches Comprehensive Digital Resources to Address National Opioid Epidemic~

NEW YORK – April 19, 2018 – The Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, the nation’s leading nonprofit committed to helping families struggling with their son’s or daughter’s substance use, today is launching a comprehensive initiative comprised of evidence-based, digital resources to help families address the opioid crisis.

Heroin and the misuse and abuse of prescription opioids killed more than 42,000 people in 2016 – more than any other year on record and more people than at the peak of the HIV epidemic. With 174 overdose deaths occurring in the U.S. every day, and 115 of those deaths directly related to misuse and abuse of opioids, the Partnership has made a concerted effort to provide digital resources to support parents and caregivers as they help a loved one struggling with opioids.

New, Comprehensive Digital Opioid Resources Feature:

Help & Hope by Text – a customized messaging and chat platform that curates digital, evidence-based resources for families to help them address a loved one’s opioid misuse and abuse.

Heroin, Fentanyl and Other Opioids eBook for Parents and Caregivers – an essential eBook for parents and caregivers of teens and young adults who are facing opioid addiction.

Intravenous (IV) Drug Video Module – an in-depth video series that helps parents and caregivers identify signs of intravenous opioid use and support a loved one who is engaging in this dangerous behavior.

Pregnancy & Opioids Guide – a substantial guide for loved ones of an expectant mother who are concerned about her opioid misuse and want to get her help.

“Today’s opioid epidemic is a public health crisis beyond anything we could have ever imagined. The needs of parents and caregivers are often neglected by mainstream care, and every day more families are turning to us for help and support,” said Fred Muench, Ph. D., President and CEO of the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids. “That’s why we are expanding our offerings to deliver resources that can be accessed by anyone, anytime, anywhere and at absolutely no cost. Through Help & Hope by Text, parents always have these valuable resources and support services available to them, right in their pocket. In an intersection of technology and health, it’s a personalized hand-holding when families need help the most, backed by our knowledgeable and compassionate Helpline specialists and coaching team.”

“Help & Hope by Text” Offers Personalized, Digital Resources at Parents’ Fingertips

The premiere program offering is Help & Hope by Text, a customizable, mobile messaging initiative that provides personalized, ongoing support and relevant resources to parents through a combination of tailored mobile messaging and one-on-one chat support services. This platform meets parents and families where they are and in a place where they gather and digest information – on their mobile phones. It connects them to our Helpline specialists when they need more support.

Through the Partnership’s Help & Hope by Text, parents and caregivers can receive bite-sized skills and evidence-based strategies – informed by parents who have “been there” – to help them better communicate with their child and motivate them to get the help they need. The platform also encourages parents to take care of themselves while they are helping their child, as self-care for caregivers is often not addressed or overlooked.

Denise Mariano, whose son is in recovery from an opioid use disorder, was one of the first parents to test Hope & Help by Text in the beta phase.

“Looking at these personal and carefully crafted Hope & Help by Text messages, I found myself reflecting back on my own journey and thinking about all of those ‘what if’ questions I had asked myself so many times,” said Mariano, a Partnership Parent Coach and Parent Support Network consultant. “What if I hadn’t felt so alone when we were going through this? What if I was able to reach out for help without that fear of being judged? What if I had a resource like this one to feel supported and empowered, instead of being shamed and blamed? I can only wish a tool like this one had existed at the time for us, but it fills my heart to envision what this can – and will do – to help millions of families who are struggling today.”

It is easy to sign up for Help & Hope by Text: Parents can text “JOIN” to 55753, take a personalized assessment by answering a quick series of questions about their child and his or her opioid use, and then start receiving messages with information and support specific to their family’s needs. The messages include a variety of important topics, such as how to:

-Access evidence-based resources to address a substance use disorder in their own family

-Implement proven communication skills and techniques to help motivate their child to begin the treatment and recovery process

-Guard against and respond to an overdose

-Take care of themselves in order to be more effective in helping their child

In addition to content customization, parents and caregivers can control the frequency and flow of the messages they receive, and feel empowered and better supported as they seek the best plan of action for their family.

“Families who have a loved one struggling with opioids need ongoing handholding and guidance as they navigate the ups and downs of addiction,” said Jon Morgenstern, Ph.D. Director of Addiction Services at Northwell Health. “This program leverages the core components of effective mobile interventions such as personalization, adaptation and coach support.”

Parents can control at what point, if at all, they want additional help. At any time, parents can reach out and connect with a Partnership Helpline Specialist to talk one-on-one about their particular situation – all within the privacy of text messaging or chat. Additionally, within their text messaging feed, parents can type the word “SEARCH” followed by a space and then a phrase such as “paying for treatment.” They will then receive immediate resources within their messaging feed that correspond to their individual request.

“Envision the courage it takes to personally call for help, taking that huge step in admitting there is a problem that is bigger than you, only to hang up in fear,” added Mariano. “Envision the sleepless nights waiting for that dreaded call and projecting the worst outcome for your child. Envision endless online searching, day and night, as you look fruitlessly for answers. Now parents can reach for their cell phone and feel that they can be part of the solution – and that truly is a beacon of hope.”

The program will soon expand to include the continuum of needs for families – ranging from early intervention to recovery, and across a range of substances – that adapts to the needs of the family as they change.

“The Help & Hope by Text messaging initiative is just the right mix of encouraging words, links to useful data and information and facts for parents dealing with any substance use issues,” said Mary Kay Eisert, a Partnership Parent Coach who also tested the platform in its beta phase. “I only wish it was available and that I had been able to benefit from it prior to losing my son to opioid abuse and heroin in 2012. I encourage anyone who even thinks their child may have a problem to use this resource.”

Heroin, Fentanyl and Other Opioids eBook for Parents and Caregivers

This comprehensive eBook presents a holistic view of the opioid issue and offers in-depth support and guidance, including how opioids affect the body, how to prevent and respond to an opioid overdose and how to get and pay for treatment if a child is using opioids. It is an essential reference that covers the range of questions the Partnership has received from countless families, compiled in a comprehensive resource.

The eBook includes topics such as:

-What are Opioids?

-How Did the Opioid Epidemic Happen?

-What Steps Can I Take to Protect My Child from Misusing Opioids?

-What Can I Do If My Child is Already Addicted to Opioids?

Intravenous (IV) Drug Video Module

Intravenous substance use adds a significantly greater level of risk to substance use. This in-depth video series helps identify signs of intravenous opioid use so parents can help a loved one who is engaging in this dangerous behavior.

The IV Drug Video Module, which focuses specifically on IV opioid use, can be viewed on the Partnership’s website. The video series includes:

-Understanding How Opioid Addiction Can Lead to IV Use

-How IV Use Adds Another Level of Risk

-Spotting the Signs of IV Use

-How to Help a Loved One Struggling with IV Heroin or Opioid Use

Pregnancy & Opioids: What Families Need to Know About Opioid Misuse and Treatment During Pregnancy

This guide was created for family and friends who are concerned about an expectant mother who is misusing opioids and how it may affect her unborn baby. As someone who cares about the mother and her baby, the reader will have an opportunity to offer help and support the expectant mother on her road to recovery from opioid addiction and to deliver a healthy child.

Pregnancy & Opioids: What Families Need to Know About Opioid Misuse and Treatment During Pregnancy features information on how to help a mother-to-be with substantial prenatal care, treatment, delivery, newborn health, breastfeeding, social supports, along with what to expect in the weeks and months after delivery. The guide can be downloaded under the “Guides” section on drugfree.org/resources.

“Empowering families caring for a loved one struggling with addiction is how we can turn the tide on this crisis. We are here to hold their hands on this journey, offering the support and resources they need to take care of themselves and guide their loved one into recovery,” added Muench. ”We want parents to know that recovery for their children is possible. We want parents to feel empowered to be their child’s best advocate, and know that the Partnership is here to be theirs.”

If your child or someone you love is struggling with opioid addiction or with a substance use disorder, please contact the Partnership’s Parent Helpline for direct and free one-on-one help and guidance. To learn more visit drugfree.org.

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