As part of the state’s Don’t Let Them Die campaign, the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet and Operation UNITE have created the KY Help Call Center to connect residents with drug treatment, according to Gov. Matt Bevin’s office.

The toll-free hotline — 1-833-8KY-HELP (1-833-859-4357) — opens on Dec. 1 and is intended for individuals struggling with substance abuse as well as family members.

“This phone number will connect callers to a live person who understands this exact issue and will link them to community resources that can help,” Bevin said in a release.

Bevin kicked off the Don’t Let Them Die campaign this year to help combat the opioid crisis, which claimed more than 1,400 lives in 2016.

Operation UNITE (an acronym for Unlawful Narcotics Investigations, Treatment and Education) was introduced in April 2003 by U.S. Congressman Harold “Hal” Rogers after The Lexington Herald-Leader wrote a series of articles that exposed the addiction and corruption associated with drug abuse in southern and eastern Kentucky, according to its website.

It already fields about 1,000 inquiries each month from residents seeking help with a substance use disorder. The new KY Help Call Center will provide referrals across the state to both public and private treatment providers, according to the release.

UNITE is staffing the KY Help Call Center with specialists in Prestonsburg, Ky.; a specialist is available 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. Otherwise, callers can leave a message.

In a statement, Nancy Hale, president of Operation UNITE, said: “There are so many people across the commonwealth who have nowhere to turn when confronted with their own addiction or that of a loved one. They are desperate for answers. They are desperate for help. This call center will guide people toward recovery. It will give them hope.”

The Kentucky Justice Cabinet is funding it through anti-drug appropriations in the current budget — approximately $500,000 per year for the next two years.

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