The Tennessee REDLINE has unveiled its new text message capability for people seeking a referral to addiction treatment services. The number for confidential referrals via voice call or text message remains the same: 800-889-9789.

Since 1989, the Tennessee REDLINE has served as a referral service to addiction treatment for people and their families looking for help for substance use disorder. The service is provided by the Tennessee Association for Alcohol, Drug and other Addiction Services (TAADAS) though a contract with the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (TDMHSAS).

“The new text messaging feature will enable more people to connect with addiction services when they're ready to make that decision,” said David Statum, family treatment court coordinator with the Coffee County Recovery Court Foundation.

“For various reasons, this text message feature will help people who might not ordinarily call for help. Some people may only have texting on their phone, meaning they can text but not make outgoing calls or receive follow-up calls.”

This feature can “break down that barrier,” added Statum. 

“Also, it helps the individual who is seeking help by having a record of the text conversation, for things such as support, guidance, instruction, and advice. As a person seeking any type of medical, mental health, or behavioral health support, it could be easy to forget some pieces of information that were shared during the voice conversation.”

Additionally, putting things in writing makes for a more deliberate approach to seeking help, he said.

“You have a record of the conversation so you can re-read it if you need to,” Statum said. “It makes it real and substantial; when relying on your own memory, especially in situations like this, might leave room for misunderstanding.”


Eliminating a barrier

“Having to pick up the phone and make a call for a referral to addiction treatment services can be a barrier in a lot of cases. Whether you’re worried about someone overhearing your conversation, you’re too busy with work or school, or you’re simply more comfortable texting than talking, this new text message feature is going to remove that barrier,” said TDMHSAS Commissioner Marie Williams, LCSW.

The text message capability on the Tennessee REDLINE allows staff to make referrals via text or to follow up phone call referrals with texted information. It also gives people an opportunity to interact and obtain information at their own pace rather than spending a period of time engaged in a call. All conversations and referrals via text message or voice call are completely confidential.

“Whether they’re people struggling with substance abuse or family members searching for help, callers are often not in the best frame of mind to write down information. With this new feature, we can text information to people to insure they get the addiction treatment referral they contacted us for,” said Mary-Linden Salter, Executive Director, TAADAS.

In state fiscal year 2019 (ending June 30, 2019), more than 13,000 callers reached out to the Tennessee REDLINE for help. Calltakers are able to make referrals for callers from across the state.