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Heroin Hotlines: Your Immediate Lifeline in Crisis Moments

Peter Manza, PhD profile image
Reviewed By Peter Manza, PhD • Updated Nov 23, 2023 • 5 cited sources

About 1.1 million people use heroin within the United States.[1] If you’re one of them, the help you need is a phone call away.

Heroin hotlines can connect you with treatment programs that can help. If your drug use has altered other parts of your life, including your job or housing, some hotlines can help with that too. 

What Are Heroin Hotlines?

Heroin and other drug-use hotlines are designed to connect people in need with treatment and resources that can help. 

Several drug hotlines exist, including the following:

  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)’s National Hotline: 1-800-662-HELP (4357)
  • United Way’s national helpline: 211
  • Partnership to End Addiction: Text “connect” to 55753

This is a short list of hotlines that are available to you within the United States. All of them are designed to connect you with professionals and other resources that can help you stop misusing drugs for good. 

What to Expect When You Call a Heroin Hotline 

While every hotline works a little differently, most of them work in similar ways. 

Your heroin hotline experience will probably involve these steps:

  1. Gentle greeting: The operator will open the conversation by asking where you live and what you need to discuss that day. 
  2. Questions: The operator will determine which drugs you’re using, how they’re harming your life and what you’d like from the future. 
  3. Education: The operator will explain the resources that are available in your area and ask if you’re interested in any of them. 
  4. Connection: The operator can transfer you to the resources you’d like to use. In some cases, your operator will complete intake paperwork. 

Don’t expect blame, anger or referral to law enforcement. People who work at heroin hotlines are there to help, not to criticize you. 

Do I Need Health Insurance to Get Help?

Most heroin hotlines are free, and others are state funded. Your operator should not ask for any kind of insurance verification card to help you. 

As SAMHSA says, their services are free. If you call their number and don’t have insurance, they’ll refer you to the state’s office that is responsible for state-funded treatment programs. SAMHSA can also refer you to facilities that accept sliding-scale payments.[2]

If you’re not interested in entering a heroin addiction treatment program right now, but you just want to get through a difficult time, your heroin hotline providers can help you. They’re ready to listen to you and help you find the assistance you need. 

Are Heroin Hotlines Confidential?

People call heroin hotlines because they’re in crisis. Your conversations involve very sensitive issues, and emotions can run high. You can speak openly and honestly with the people who answer the phone. Anything you say is confidential. 

If your operator transfers you to treatment for opioid addiction, some data will be critical to share. For example, the treatment provider will need to understand what drugs you’ve been using and how long the habit has persisted. 

Your operator will explain what information might be shared as a next step. You have full control over what happens and what will (or won’t) be shared. 

When to Call a Heroin Hotline

Heroin hotlines are designed to help people in crisis. You can use them at any point in your addiction process. 

Heroin hotlines are helpful for the following types of people:

  • Users who want to cut back or quit using heroin
  • Users in treatment who aren’t getting better and need a different option 
  • Concerned family members wondering how treatment works 
  • Users struggling with housing and employment issues 

Know that heroin changes the physical structure of the brain. Repeated users can’t control how much they use and when to stop. The part of their brain controlling decision making is impaired by drugs.[3]

A heroin hotline can help you break through indecision and get the treatment you need. Making the leap to treatment isn’t always easy. A simple call could make all the difference. 

How to Find a Medication-Assisted Treatment Program 

Heroin’s changes can persist, and they can be hard to overcome without help. A medication-assisted treatment (MAT), or a Medication for Addiction Treatment, program is specifically designed for heroin addictions. 

In an MAT program, your care team uses solutions like Suboxone to correct chemical imbalances caused by heroin. They can help to ease heroin withdrawal symptoms and cravings.[4,5] If you’ve tried other treatments before without success, MAT could make a big difference. 

A heroin hotline could help you connect with MAT. Tell the operator that this is the type of treatment you’d like to consider for your addiction. 

Know that you’re not required to use a hotline for MAT. Bicycle Health offers telemedicine-driven MAT across the country. Meet with your addiction treatment team via phone or computer, and pick up the prescription at a pharmacy near you. A referral from a heroin hotline is not required. 

Contact us at Bicycle Health to find out if this method of treatment is right for you. We would love to help you improve and change your life for the better. With Suboxone, you can stop heroin use and build a better future.

Reviewed By Peter Manza, PhD

Peter Manza, PhD received his BA in Psychology and Biology from the University of Rochester and his PhD in Integrative Neuroscience at Stony Brook University. He is currently working as a research scientist in Washington, DC. His research focuses on the role ... Read More

  1. What is the scope of heroin use in the United States? National Institute on Drug Abuse. Published June 2018. Accessed November 6, 2023.
  2. SAMHSA’s National Helpline. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Published June 9, 2023. Accessed November 6, 2023.
  3. What are the long-term effects of heroin use? National Institute on Drug Abuse. Published June 2018. Accessed November 6, 2023. 
  4. Kleber HD. Pharmacologic treatments for opioid dependence: detoxification and maintenance options. Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience. 2007;9(4):455-470. 
  5. Gowing L, Ali R, White JM, Mbewe D. Buprenorphine for managing opioid withdrawal. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 2017;(2). 

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