Wisconsin Addiction Recovery Helpline Marks Five Years of Service

The Wisconsin Addiction Recovery Helpline recently reached a significant milestone – five years of connecting state residents experiencing substance use concerns with local services and support. This free and confidential service supported by a grant from the Department Health Services (DHS) and managed by 211 Wisconsin debuted in October 2018 as part of efforts by state officials to reduce drug overdoses. Since then, staff have answered 31,591 calls, texts, and chats from all 72 Wisconsin counties and nine of the 11 federally recognized Tribal nations with members in Wisconsin. These contacts resulted in 78,646 referrals to agencies providing substance use disorder assessment services, counseling, inpatient care, residential care, outpatient care, medication-assisted treatment, and supports from people in recovery from a substance use disorder trained to help others.

“For five years, the Wisconsin Addiction Recovery Helpline has offered people hope at a time when they may feel overwhelmed by what steps to take for health and healing,” said DHS Secretary-designee Kirsten Johnson. “Staffed by caring, trained specialists, it is a safe, trusted resource to turn to for information. We are grateful for the work of 211 Wisconsin and all the people who have made this service a success.”

People can contact the Wisconsin Addiction Recovery Helpline 24/7 with questions about services and supports related to all drugs, including alcohol, cannabis, cocaine, methamphetamineopioids, and tobacco whether they are struggling with drug use themselves, or are concerned for a family member or friend. The specialists who answer the contacts work to understand the needs of the person and help them navigate services and supports available to them.

“Recovery from a substance use disorder is possible,” said Charlene Mouille, president and CEO of United Way of Wisconsin and 211 Wisconsin. “We want people to know that our commitment is to be there for people, no matter where they stand on their road to recovery. Our primary focus is on facilitating a non-judgmental connection, ensuring individuals access the right help at the right time and in the right environment.”

To reach the Wisconsin Addiction Recovery Helpline:

The information available by phone, text, or chat can also be found through the search tool at addictionhelpwi.org, with 138,839 online searches completed since 2018. This database currently includes information about 2,114 agencies offering 5,268 different services and supports. Most of the contacts to the Wisconsin Addiction Recovery Helpline are related to alcohol, followed by stimulants, then opioids.

People with concerns regarding the use of opioids and stimulants who contact the Wisconsin Addiction Recovery Helpline have the option to be connected with a person who can help them through their recovery journey. Recovery coaches provide this service as part of a partnership between 211 Wisconsin and the Coulee Recovery Center in La Crosse. More than 1,800 people have been referred to recovery coaches since the launch of this partnership in 2020.

DHS provides 211 Wisconsin $514,000 each year to operate the Wisconsin Addiction Recovery Helpline. The funding comes from Wisconsin’s share of the State Opioid Response Grant, a federal program that supports prevention, harm reduction, treatment, and recovery services focused on ending the state’s opioid epidemic.