DHHS Launches Texting Option for Those Seeking Substance Use Treatment


AUGUSTA – Today, the Department of Health and Human Services in collaboration with 2-1-1 Maine and the United Ways of Maine unveiled a new texting service in an effort to facilitate communications for those seeking access to opioid treatment services.

hands holding cellphone and textingWhen you text your zip code to 898-211, a Maine-based Information Specialist will be notified that a new transaction has been received. The person requesting assistance will receive an automated “Thank you for contacting 2-1-1” response and can immediately begin their dialogue with the trained and friendly Specialist.

Initially, the text line will be available from 8am-5pm, Monday-Friday. If an individual is in need of assistance outside of those hours, they will receive a text response encouraging them to dial 2-1-1 and speak with an Information Specialist. DHHS launched the 24/7 Opiate Help line in April of 2016 through a contract with 211 Maine with a focus on pregnant women and young mothers seeking treatment.

“This is another effort by the Department to help individuals struggling with addiction to get access to treatment when they are ready.. As technology advances, we must adapt our services and this texting capability broadens the reach of 2-1-1 services, including to Maine youth,” said DHHS Commissioner Mary Mayhew.

In a recent study, Millennials expressed more interest in texting compared to calls because texting is a less invasive form of communication. [1]

This will also help address a concern voiced by some seeking treatment—the stigma attached to substance use disorder. With the attention surrounding the opioid epidemic facing our state, many people are intimidated by the idea of participating in an open dialogue about their treatment needs over the phone.

“Unfortunately, there is still stigma around substance use disorder in today’s society, even though most people are affected by it either directly or indirectly. That stigma prohibits people from reaching out for help and pushes them further away from a path to successful recovery,” said Dr. Christopher Pezzullo, State Health Officer for the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention. “The texting capability through 2-1-1 offers individuals the feeling of a safer and more anonymous experience when seeking guidance on recovery options.”

Providing this service furthers the Department’s efforts to offer a more comprehensive, accessible approach for those seeking treatment.

2-1-1 Maine is a free resource providing an easy confidential way to connect people to information about thousands of health and human services around Maine. 2-1-1 Maine is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week by phone and online, and available via text from 8:00am-5:00 Monday-Friday. People can access information and resources in their area by dialing 2-1-1 and talking with a trained and friendly specialist, by texting their ZIP code to 898-211, or by searching the online directory at www.211maine.org.