MINOT, N.D.-Response has been tremendous to a new addiction resource recently launched in North Dakota, according to the state chairman of the Addiction Policy Forum.
State Chairman Paul Stroklund of Minot said after announcing its expansion into North Dakota at Recovery Reinvented earlier this month, Addiction Policy Forum in a week's time logged 300 sessions of phone or website visits by North Dakotans seeking information and help for addiction.
The Addiction Resource Center includes a comprehensive, interactive website at addictionresourcecenter.org to help individuals and families struggling with addiction learn about substance use disorders and access critical resources. This platform dispels harmful myths about addiction by presenting the science behind the disease in easy-to-read formats, guiding concerned individuals through a self-assessment tool, helping to develop a proposed action plan and providing a database of vetted, local treatment providers.
Addiction Policy Forum, a leading addiction nonprofit based in Washington, D.C., operates the Addiction Resource Center.
The ARC also includes a resource line staffed by addiction counselors, licensed social workers and peer recovery support advocates who provide callers with substance use disorder information, education on treatment options and support.
North Dakota residents can call the line at 1-833-301-HELP (4357), Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The Addiction Policy Forum will be promoting the ARC with first responders so they have the ability to direct families and individuals to the resource.
Stroklund said North Dakotans began calling or logging on even before Tuesday, when North Dakota officially became one of the 36 states served by the ARC. There were 105 calls to the help line in the first week, he said. A number of callers were from rural communities in western North Dakota, where not a lot of resource assistance is readily available, he said.
Stroklund said his family's difficulty in finding treatment when his daughter was struggling with addiction is the type of situation the ARC seeks to address. Its website allows families to locate not just the treatment centers and professionals in their state and individual counties but walks them through a series of questions to determine which providers are their best matches, he said.
Although the ARC can help locate resources, North Dakota still faces issues with long wait times to see providers because of a shortage of professionals, Stroklund said.
"We are seeing this across the state that it's months sometimes before people can get in to see a mental health professional," he said. "When a person needs help, you need to be there. You need to respond, but we just don't have the amount of counselors needed."
However, the ARC can help callers locate openings to get them care as quickly as possible, Stroklund said. In addition, the website offers resources so families and individuals know the types of actions they can be taking immediately.
"It's a huge tool," Stroklund said. "This resource center is going to save some lives."
The resource center also will give North Dakota more data on where service gaps exist and the extent of the need so the state can better determine how to allocate its assets to help, Stroklund said.
Stroklund, who serves on the State Behavioral Health Planning Council, said a behavioral health report released in April offered a number of recommendations to the governor and legislators for improving services.
"We can't do one or two of them. We need to go after all of he initiatives," he said. "We need to put some money into this."