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Parent helpline provides support, resources for teen substance abuse

The Parents Toll-Free Helpline, 1-855-DRUGFREE (1-855-378-4373), is staffed by clinical social workers with practical experience in substance abuse prevention and treatment. The Helpline was launched by The Partnership at Drugfree.org in April 2011. Bilingual support (English/ Spanish) is offered.

The helpline is a nationwide support service that offers assistance to parents and other primary caregivers of children who want to talk to someone about their child’s drug use or drinking. Trained parent specialists will:

  • Listen to parents' concerns, challenges, setbacks and emotional turmoil that has been experienced with their child’s substance abuse or addiction
  • Help to outline a course of effective action – whether it is prevention, intervention, seeking treatment or supporting recovery – grounded in science-based resources
  • Inform parents of different resources available nationally

Johanna Bos, LMSW, CASAC, is the lead parent support specialist for the helpline and fields calls ranging from parents asking for help in identifying pills they found in their teen’s backpack, to aiding parents in evaluating the effectiveness of a treatment program. She fields a lot of questions about home drug tests and what the results mean. “Sometimes parents just need to talk, and need someone to calm them and give them support. Parents are so focused on the child, they can lose sight of taking care of themselves.”

She also helps parents find scientifically valid information. “So much information online is linked to people who are trying to take advantage of parents in a vulnerable state,” Bos notes.

Contact does not end with the initial call. Callers are asked if they would like someone to follow up, and if they agree, additional contact is made within two weeks to see if the caller needs further help. The option of contacting another parent who has gone through a similar situation may also be offered.

Bos emphasizes that the helpline provides information, but is not a crisis line. The helpline is staffed Monday-Friday from 10 am to 6 pm Eastern time. Parents who call after hours can leave a message and will be contacted the next business day. Parents in need of immediate or emergency services should call 911 or a 24-hour crisis hotline.

The launch of The Parents Toll-Free Helpline was made possible through the generosity of Purdue Pharma, the Bodman Foundation, a private foundation and numerous matching contributions from individuals.

Written by: Lisa Callaham, Substance Abuse Prevention Specialist
Posted: Oct 03, 2012 by Lisa Callaham

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