Medically Assisted Telephone –
December 10, 2020 – New Yorkers who are using drugs alone, and who would like someone to stay on the phone with them and call emergency services if they become unresponsive, can now call the state’s new Never Use Alone hotline at 1-800-997-2280. The line operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
The New York hotline is a collaboration between Truth Pharm, a Binghamton-based harm reduction nonprofit, and the national Never Use Alone hotline. The operators are all volunteers, although anyone who’s also a Certified Recovery Peer Advocates can have their hours volunteered for the hotline count toward their required CRPA service hours. So far, 25 volunteers across New York State have been trained to take calls and another 20 have signed up. Operators can chat with the callers as much or as little as the caller is up for, but their primary function is to check in every two to three minutes to make sure they’re still responsive and contact the caller’s local emergency services number if they are not. The New York line had not received any calls by publication time, but—as with hotlines launched in other states—it will likely take several weeks for word of the new service to spread. Pleus added that whether or not operators establish a rapport with callers, the grounding in harm reduction means there will be no judgment and no pushing for callers to enter treatment. “It’s just, ‘I’m here to hang out with you til you’re done doing your business and make sure you’re still alive and sitting upright when you’re done.’ We were taught as operators to stay on the line as lone as the person wants us there. When the person feels safe, we can end the call.”