New Addiction Recovery Helpline hopes to lower overdose deaths leading to lower life expectancy

New Addiction Recovery Helpline hopes to lower overdose deaths leading to lower life expectancy

A new report out Thursday shows the life expectancy for Americans went down between 2016 and 2017 due to an increase in suicides and drug overdose deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Dane County has multiple resources for people struggling with addiction or suicidal thoughts.

The Addiction Recovery 211 Line just opened in October through the Dane County United Way, and Rachel Gundacker, the director for the operation, said they are already busy, with 50 calls to the Madison center but almost 500 calls statewide.

�Dane County United Way has a new ADDICTION RECOVERY HELPLINE�People are staffed 24/7 to help those struggling with addiction (or those with loved ones who are struggling) get them resources they need. Dial 211 or 833-944-4673 if you need it. Retweet to save a loved one. #news3

— Amy Reid (@amyreidreports) November 30, 2018

“What we’re hoping for is that folks in our community who are struggling with addiction, or have friends or family members that are struggling with addiction, will reach out and give us a call so we can get them connected with the resources they need to get help and recover,” Gundacker said.

The helpline opened after new numbers showed deaths from opioid overdoses outpaced car-related deaths.

“That’s when the state was like, ‘We got to get on top of this. We have to do something,'” Gundacker said.

But Thursday the organization faced another staggering statistic: a lower life expectancy for Americans after a 9.6 percent increase in deaths by drug overdose and a 3.7 percent rise in deaths by suicide, according to the CDC.

Doctors spent the day theorizing what may have caused this.

“I think in many parts of the country there is a sense of hopelessness,” said Dr. William Dietz, with George Washington University. “People are unemployed. They’re not sure of their future. There is divisive politics. The income gap is widening. I really do believe that people are increasingly hopeless, and that that leads to drug use. It leads to potentially suicide.”

In Dane County the resources are focused on recovery.

“I hope with this line… people who see that statistic or the statistic about the car accident, that hopefully it sparks a fire in them to get help and give us a call,” Gundacker said.

The Addiction Recovery 211 Line is open 24/7 by dialing 211 or 833-944-4673. Resources are also available online at

The National Suicide Prevention Hotline is available by dialing 1-800-273-8255.

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