Drug addiction touches the lives of so many people in addition to those struggling with a substance abuse disorder.
Dr. Mitchell Crawford can attest to that.
Crawford, WellSpan Health’s director of addiction services, lost his sister, Izzy, who died from an accidental heroin overdose when she was just 25 in April 2015.
"She was a great person who I loved very much," said Crawford, who also lost a colleague to addiction during his days of medical training.
"It can affect anyone."
The tragic losses motivated Crawford to specialize in treating people with addiction and his team continues to support his passion by developing ways to help those struggling with drug addiction, including their family members and loved ones.
WellSpan Philhaven recently launched WARM Line, a 24-hour support line for those affected by addiction, with a heavy focus on providing support, resources and mentoring for those battling an opioid-use disorder. The WellSpan Addiction Recovery Mentoring WARM Line is offered through WellSpan Health Addiction Services and is funded by a $500,000 grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs.
A person can call 1-844-WARMLINE which serves Lebanon, (NE) Lancaster, York, Adams, Franklin and Cumberland counties and expect to the following:
- Speak with someone who won’t judge you.
- Learn more about treatment and recovery options for you or someone you care about.
- Talk about how to help a loved one who’s struggling with addiction.
- Get connected to family mentoring resources.
A recovery specialist will also assist with referring individuals to recovery coaching, mentoring and clinical services; providing referrals to clinical services for affected families; and providing transportation and ride-sharing vouchers.
After the call, specialists will also reach out to those who choose to be identified to touch base with them about how they are doing, Crawford noted.
Pandemic can bring tough times
While social support and structure are extremely important to everyone’s recovery journey, the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted some of that.
According to Crawford, many people have experienced significant social isolation during the quarantine which is particularly harmful for those in recovery.
In York County, there were a total of 65 overdose deaths for 2020 by the end of June. If that number doubled to 130 over the next six months, it would bring a significant increase from 104 overdose deaths in 2019.
Crawford also pointed out that there may have been a fear to engage with the health care system for treatment, especially if it wasn’t known that services can be provided using telemedicine.
He believes the launch of WARM Line is just another way that WellSpan can keep the line of communication open for support around the clock.
“I understand that support is needed for loved ones during challenging times,” Crawford said. “The WARM Line provides an opportunity for members of our community to call, with an option to remain anonymous if they choose, and be connected with someone who can provide this needed support.”
Staying in the fight
WellSpan Health has made significant progress throughout the past few years as it pertains to treating people with opioid use disorder by expanding the number of providers that can prescribe treatment by more than 15 times.
According to Crawford, there were eight WellSpan providers who were able to prescribe buprenorphine for the treatment of opioid use disorder in 2017. Today, there are more than 130 providers and over 1,000 patients started with treatment.
WellSpan has also focused on prevention efforts by reducing the number of opioids that are prescribed to decrease potential harm. Crawford says that there has been a medically appropriate reduction in prescribing of opioids which would equate to more than 413,208 oxycodone 5mg pills not being in our communities.
There are no numbers that can describe the value of support that WARM Line can provide for someone struggling with addiction.
“The WARM Line can help many people, but only if they know about it. I encourage our community partners and neighbors to share this resource widely, whether they think someone could benefit or not, because chances are that either they can benefit from it or they know someone who could,” Crawford said.
For more information about WARM Line, visit: https://www.wellspanphilhaven.org/Programs-and-Services/Addiction-Services/WARM-Line