PROVIDENCE, R.I. - Governor Gina M. Raimondo today unveiled an enhanced, statewide, multimedia public education campaign to reduce the stigma of addiction and promote treatment and recovery. The enhanced campaign includes a new dedicated phone line - 401-942-STOP (401-942-7867) - that connects individuals in crisis with treatment and recovery supports. The phone line is staffed by licensed chemical dependency counselors and will be open from 9am to 9pm, seven days a week.
The campaign and phone line are a part of Raimondo's comprehensive Overdose Prevention Action Plan. Rhode Island's plan has been touted locally and nationally as a model to address the immediate overdose crisis, which has claimed more than 1,000 Rhode Island lives over the last five years.
"This crisis has demanded immediate action and is certainly the most urgent, unanticipated priority I've encountered as Governor. Saving lives starts with raising awareness and understanding," said Raimondo. "Addiction is a disease and recovery is possible. Our campaign will put a human face on this crisis, reduce the stigma of this disease and connect Rhode Islanders with recovery services."
The campaign shares stories from Rhode Islanders most intimately affected by the crisis and includes television and radio spots, bus advertising, posters and a paid social media campaign, with most materials available in English and Spanish.
"As a person in long-term recovery who has gone from serving time in a prison cell block to serving my community as a peer mentor, I applaud the Governor's commitment to ending the stigma associated with addiction and connecting individuals with the treatment necessary to begin the journey of recovery," said George O'Toole, a certified peer recovery coach and one of the Rhode Islanders whose story is featured in the campaign. "This public awareness campaign carries a message of hope to the hopeless, and will let those still suffering from the disease know that recovery is possible."
As a part of the campaign kickoff, the Rhode Island Department of Health is also launching a new website (PreventOverdose.ri.gov) in collaboration with the Brown University School of Public Health that provides information about prevention, treatment and recovery services, along with a dashboard that is tracking the state's collaborative efforts to save lives.
"Governor Raimondo has moved quickly and thoughtfully to develop a comprehensive overdose prevention plan, which includes a state-wide, multi-media awareness campaign designed to reduce the stigma of addiction," said Terrie Fox Wetle, M.S., Ph. D., Dean of the Brown University School of Public Health. "This crisis does not discriminate and touches every community. Our researchers will continue to work with the Governor and the many stakeholders she has brought to the table to understand this crisis."
Funding for the phone line was made available by a contribution from the DelPrete Family Foundation, with additional campaign funding provided through a federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention grant.
"With the complexity and prevalence of substance use in Rhode Island, we knew that there was a strong need to connect anyone living with opioid dependence to those who work in the addiction field," said Daniel DelPrete from the DelPrete Family Foundation. "We are proud to help our community through the creation of a dedicated phone line which directs people in need to recovery services."
Media and others can access links to the campaign testimonials, including the 30-second television spot, here.