In the News
Greater public awareness needed for SAMHSA's national addiction helpline. The free helpline for addiction treatment referrals, run by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), is underrecognized by the public and the media, according to investigators writing in JAMA Internal Medicine. Analyzing the volume of Google searches and Twitter references for terms indicative of public awareness of the hotline during the week after singer Demi Lovato was hospitalized for a drug overdose in July 2018, the researchers found it to be similar to the volume during a mean 90-day period before the widely publicized overdose. By contrast, the week after chef Anthony Bourdain committed suicide in June 2018, there was a marked increase in engagement with the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, including an 81% increase in related tweets. The authors called on SAMHSA to more aggressively promote the helpline with public messaging like the campaigns of suicide-prevention and anti-smoking groups. The SAMHSA helpline number is (800) 662-HELP (4357).