W.Va. addiction Hotline HELP4WV says calls remain steady during pandemic


MORGANTOWN — Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the need for addiction treatment in West Virginia has not slowed down.   

Brittany Shawver, director of the HELP4WV addiction hotline says that she has seen little difference in the need for help, as measured by call volume. The line averages over 900 requests for help per month. 

“We think call volume may increase as this continues, because unemployment, depression, and loneliness are all risk factors for addiction. We especially worry about overdoses increasing now that people are spending more time alone, and there may be no one else present to administer Narcan or call for help,” Shawver said. 

Shawver said that, so far, most addiction treatment programs are staying open, though some have altered their admission criteria, and all are taking extra precautions.  She said that most outpatient programs are offering telehealth options, and that private insurance, as well as Medicare and Medicaid, are covering it.  There are also many online support groups, meetings and recovery apps that her staff are sharing with callers.  

The Helpline also has a peer recovery support program that has been retooled for usage during the pandemic.  Normally, peer support specialists, who are themselves in long-term recovery from addiction, are out in the community leading support groups and meeting face-to-face with clients.  Now, they are also available for support by phone or via telehealth.   

Anyone with a landline, computer, or mobile device can access support and advice from the peer coaches for free.  Those who want to be connected to a peer coach or learn about other treatment options can call the helpline 24/7 at 1-844-HELP-4WV, or chat online at Help4WV.com.

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