Olga Rios has tried and failed multiple times to get into drug treatment.
For two years, Rios had been hooked on heroin.
"I was shooting about one gram daily to sustain my habit. I was injecting into my neck, my arms, my toes. I’d find a vein," says Rios.
Then she came across the number for the Erie County Addiction Hotline.
"I call the hotline and she says, ‘Come in tomorrow at eleven.’,“ says Rios.
The next morning, Rios met with the hotline's assessment counselor, Stacey Spengler. Her job is to help addicts to get into treatment as soon as possible. It's not easy because of the complex nature of drug treatment.
Spengler says, "It’s hard for people that are already struggling with addiction to navigate through the system. It’s very difficult. They don’t know where to turn to. They don’t know how to navigate through the system."
But by getting to know the treatment providers and the facilities they have, Spengler says 80% of the people who make their appointments with her get placed into treatment within 48-hours.
That's what happened for Rios. She called the hotline on March 30th. The next day, Rios met with Spengler. The following day, April 1st, Rios was admitted into treatment.
Her recovery course included two-weeks of detox followed by a month of inpatient treatment. Today, Rios is 6-weeks clean and very grateful.
"“I’m doing well. I’m doing well. Thank God, because I believe there is this other life, better than what I had before,” says Rios.
"I don’t know that there’s another place like this” says Jodie Altman, campus director of Kids Escaping Drugs which is a partner with the hotline, essentially supplying Spengler to do assessment and placement of callers.
Altman says, "They come to our assessment counselor. They have assessment done and they’re linked to treatment often times within 24- hours, if not the same day. Anyone else who calls a treatment facility and tries to get in and doesn’t know how to work the treatment system often times hits a brick wall."
The hotline began taking calls in August. Since then, almost 400 callers have been placed into treatment. The number is 716-831-7007.