Tackling the Opioid Epidemic One Text at a Time

Text Hotlines Are Helping Connect More People to Critical Addiction Resources!

Now addiction hotlines are helping individuals and their friends and family by making resources more accessible. These hotlines are assisting individuals by also offering the same support and access via the privacy of SMS text messaging. For example, if an individual cannot make a phone call (for whatever reason) he or she can also text a different number that’s posted on the help hotline’s website.  Once connected with the agent/counselor, they can text back and forth to obtain the information/referrals for inpatient/outpatient detox and/or treatment/counseling.  By offering the same help through two-way “textchat” dialogue, more individuals who are not ready to “talk” or find it difficult to discuss their addiction over the phone, are opening up and asking for help via the same function they use every day – text messaging. Addiction Text Lines have already helped thousands of individuals and  their friends/families find the support and treatment options most appropriate for their addiction.

Text Hotlines can provide 24/7 anonymous text-communication to individuals of all ages, needing immediate mental health assistance for themselves or for a friend or family member.  According to Pew Research, the average American now uses text more than any other function on their device – more than calls, email, and social media combined. Individuals needing help can send a text to the helpline, (in the case of 211s that are offering addiction support services, they can simply text their zip code to 898211) to get immediate, live help.  Research also shows that the perceived privacy of text helps individuals open up more readily and feel more secure “talking” about the emotional crisis they’re facing.

The Opioid Text Program as an On-Ramp to Live Support!

And with new programs like the “Opioid Text Program” 211 can provide fully automated, vetted referrals (curated directly out of their databases) and then live help for discussing the concerns the individual may have or feel about asking for help. Using the Opioid Text Program (now available in several states) as an on-ramp to help, is changing how individuals seek help for themselves or a loved one. Learn more about how a unique fusion of automation and live help is transforming the help-seeking paradigm! READ MORE

Live Help Can Be Reinforced With Creative, Well-Timed Follow-up Texts and Quality Assurance Surveys!

When the addiction hotline is in two-way dialogue, the agent/counselor can trigger tailored followup texts so the live help portion, is longitudinal rather than an isolated event, which is more often than not the case, with telephone voice support. Research shows that text offers a perceived element of privacy, where additional, well-timed supportive messages are far less intrusive than a phone call.

Planting seeds of hope, with educational/resources stitched into the text messages, have been shown to modify behavior over time, and increase help-seeking. [1]

Check-in texts (aka nudge texts) can reinforce the live help, so that the first dialogue is merely a starting point rather than an end. Once they’re past the most difficult obstacle, asking for help, soft, well sequenced text message “nudges” can help to motivate the individual to cross that final bridge, and act on those referrals to treatment/counseling. And if text is the one channel that makes them comfortable enough, to make that choice, then it follows that every addiction help hotline should also provide the same levels of support through an enterprise text line solution.

Want more info about how to set up an Addiction Text Hotline/Helpline?  Email info@preventionpaystext.com

We also specialize in SMS text helplines for Information and Referral providers as well as text hotlines/helplines for crisis support services and suicide prevention programs. Additionally, we are powering several Text Lines that service victims of domestic violence and rape/sexual assault.  Regardless of the priority group, if you need to setup carrier grade text message based live help, we will help with the design and deployment, including web-based training with recorded sessions for ongoing learning objectives and workshops. Powering many of the nation’s largest and oldest text lines since 2008.

Are you seeking more info or would like to deploy the Opioid Text Program in your community?  Send your inquiries to:  OpioidText@USTXT211.org

Study Finds Text Messaging More Effective for Healthcare Surveys than Phone Calls

From collecting patient data to conducting clinical trials, a well-run survey can make a big difference in how efficient and effective your health organization is run. A new study published in PLos One suggests that health surveys conducted over text messages gather higher quality data than surveys conducted over phone calls.

Comparing survey responses from text messages and phone calls

The study, titled Precision and Disclosure in Text and Voice Interviews on Smartphones, was a joint collaboration with several researchers from the New School in New York, The University Of Maryland, the University of Michigan and other institutions. The researchers wanted to find whether people who participated in a survey over text message answered the questions with greater precision and fuller disclosure than they did over a phone call.

Over 600 randomized participants were asked to fill out a survey delivered in one of four ways: automated text messages, manually sent text messages, automated voice calls, and manually placed voice calls. After participants filled out the surveys, researchers gauged the quality of the data by measuring the extent to which responses were both careful and conscientious. For example, researchers measured the extent to which respondents might round up or round down their answers instead of carefully thinking through a question, or by responding with the same answer for multiple questions in a row instead of varying their responses. They also determined how willing people were to disclose sensitive information via text message as opposed to over the phone.

Study participants answered survey questions more conscientiously and honestly over SMS

The study found that not only did people who answered the survey via text messages answer more conscientiously, but that they also answered more honestly. Patients who took the survey over text messaging, for instance, had greater disclosure level of sensitive information – such as their number of sexual partners or the amount of alcohol they drank. Text message respondents also reported a preference for text message surveys, thereby suggesting that text messaging could quite possibly be the best way to collect data from patients.

Why text messaging works better than phone calls for collecting Client responses

Text messaging is the better option than phone calls for conducting health surveys for several reasons. First, since participants can answer survey questions while carrying out their daily routines, it gives participants more freedom to answer questions thoughtfully on their own schedule. Indeed, the ability to answer questions within one’s own time frame grants participants a more relaxed attitude towards the survey in general, meaning that they are less likely to rush through the questions than they would with a telephone conversation.

Second, text messaging lends better results to data collection is because it grants the participant more anonymity than a phone call. People are more likely to be honest when they don’t have hear their own words or address a person on the other end of the phone line. The phenomenon of "satisficing" or giving answers that are perceived to be desired by the person conducting the survey in order to end the call, irregardless of whether it's an honest answer) plagues phone surveys, whereas, clients tend not to do so during text surveys.

Lastly, a text messaging platform like PreventionPays has the ability to store all the data collected in text message surveys, which is an invaluable feature for researchers because it compiles all the answers into a single, organized database. No need to spend time transcribing the survey results from a voice recording or hardcopy survey into a database!

How text messaging surveys can contribute to the healthcare industry

Using text messaging to collect data can be useful in a variety of ways in the healthcare industry. For example, you can use text messaging to:

  • Find and organize participants for a clinical trial: Text messaging can be used to attract and retain potential participants, guide participants through the trial, as well as determine their eligibility based on a short survey.
  • Gather feedback on patient care after their discharge: Text messaging allows you to poll your patients using both multiple choice questions and open-ended questions about their quality of stay at your hospital or clinic.
  • Improve employee satisfaction: Text messaging can be used internally as well as externally, and it could greatly behoove your organization to conduct an SMS survey with your employees that guarantees anonymity and (as this study suggests) encourages full and honest disclosure.

Regardless of the data that you’re collecting, the ability to collect honest and carefully considered answers and compile all the information on a single platform makes it a lot easier to analyze your data and make improvements to your organization. Text messaging is a great way to make your organization run smoother and achieve better results – and it can start today.

Want to activate a survey? Easy! Already a client? Email or call us so we can pick a time to assess your unique needs and deploy a solution! Want more info on how PreventionPays Text can help you? Email "info@preventionpaystext.com" or text DEMO to 85511

Responding while on-the-go can be as simple as 1, 2, 3!

Responding while on-the-go can be as simple as 1, 2, 3!

citation: University of Michigan, New York New School, U of Maryland Co-Researchers Schober MF, Conrad FG, Antoun C, Ehlen P, Fail S, Hupp AL, et al. (2015) Precision and Disclosure in Text and Voice Interviews on Smartphones. PLoS ONE 10(6): e0128337. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0128337

Santa Barbara County WIC Breastfeeding Peer Counseling Program Honored by USDA Award!

The Loving Support Award of Excellence was developed to recognize and celebrate WIC agencies that provide exemplary breastfeeding programs and support services.  The intent of the award is to provide models and motivate local agencies and clinics to strengthen their breastfeeding promotion and support activities and ultimately increase breastfeeding initiation and duration rates among WIC participants.

Local WIC agencies that have operated a peer counseling program for at least one year and met all of the required core components of the USDA Food and Nutrition Services (FNS) Loving Support© Model for a successful peer counseling program were eligible to apply.  Three levels of excellence were possible for award – Gold, Gold Premiere, and Gold Elite.  The applications went through two levels of review with both the WIC State agency and the FNS Regional Office.

Applicants were required to demonstrate that they had breastfeeding promotion and support policies and processes in place at their WIC local agencies that enable them to provide praiseworthy breastfeeding services to WIC participants.

The BFED Text Program is now in its 6th continuous year! The project protocols and the educational texts (aka Message Tracks) have been replicated by dozens of WIC agencies across the country with several statewide deployments.

This award is indicative of just how effective texting has become with GenY moms as a primary communication channel. In fact, Santa Barbara county WIC now uses text for all their daily communication, since the vast majority of their caseload prefer text over all other channels.


WIC Logo Color-S.jpg

Tackling the Opioid Crisis with the Simplicity of SMS Text!

This project (in many forms) is being piloted at various health and human service agencies (211, I&R and community impact programs) and we're very excited about how much impact this can/will have!  This project was fundamentally designed to offer the very best of PreventionPays including options for live, two-way support, and integration with your CRM (Client Resource Management Solution), so that, as referrals are identified within your CRM, they can be automatically extracted from there and sent to the end user's mobile device and this is completely seamless to the end user!  If you don't use a CRM and simply want to partner with agencies that do, please reach out! We want to hear from you! There are many layers to this work and will require partnerships across all sectors of the help-seeking ecosystem.  This project will provide addresses/links to the most current, vetted resources in closest proximity to the individual's mobile device! 

Are you interested in partnering with an agency from your local community? Email info@preventionpaystext.com and in the subject line, send "Opioid Text Project"!


1. Reduce harm/death from opioid/drug addiction!

Outcomes will be tracked and self-evident through the follow-up work with individuals that text the service.


10% of the population in the target zone text the helpline.

50% of those that seek help, will follow through with the resources/help.

50% of those that follow through with the help will report they continue to receive ongoing support with meetings and other suggestions (as identified by the partner agencies and content curators).

The project is two-fold: marketing website updates/banners/messages/PSAs/Press Release/Local News and the text message program/sms mapping and opt-in protocols


Web banners for partner, community agency websites

School-based programs work really well; posters, brochures, take-away cards strategically placed in public/private spaces will encourage use of the text program.

Add posters and take-away cards in schools and community venues at little to no cost!

Text Module:

End user texts keyword to short code to begin automated Q&A to obtain end users' risk level and then provide end user with recs for treatment/support. (support also available for friends and family so that everyone in the community can gain something from texting the service! We are all impacted by addiction.

End user will get an automated survey querying for zip, county, age of individual that is seeking help.

End user will select whether they need long-term care w/ detox or short term care w/ detox or detox only.

This will trigger referrals to resources that are closest to them according to their need.

After the referrals are delivered, there is a follow-up text letting them know they can call 211 or text their zip code for more support.

5-7 days later:  You requested help with “short-term care w/ detox” for yourself or a loved one. Did you find the information helpful? 

Did you or your loved one enter treatment?

Please remember, 211 (or named agency) is here for you! if you need more assistance or would like to talk with someone at 211, please call 211 or text your zip code at any time.

Then, one week later: We’re thinking about you! We know seeking help for yourself is an emotional and difficult matter. We want to help. 

If you want someone to talk to, call us or just text us and you’ll get a live response from one of our call specialists!

Then, 1-2 weeks later survey:

Did you make contact with the help you were given?

yes responses

Would you like a list of AA meetings for your area?  Per request send additional tips/resources and statements of encouragement/hope etc. 

no responses

Are you still looking for help with short-term care plus detox?

yes responses

Set a time to call or text with a Specialist

no responses

Please make sure to check with us. We realize there are several barriers to getting help. Please call us or text us so we can help you.


The survey data and outcome data will be prepared in a formal document to be shared with participating agencies and funders. 

Project aims and protocols will be published for replication/uses in other regions/states.

Goal:  Reduce harm and cultivate better health outcomes! Present this project at conferences!

Interested in learning more about this project and others like it? email opioidtext@ustxt211.org

Want to partner? email opioidtext@ustxt211.org

Former Ceo of Mental Health Center in Minnesota Joins PreventionPays Text!

Mark Kuppe former CEO of Canvas Health in Minnesota (a metro Community Mental Health Center serving children and adults with a full array of 35 community based mental health services programs) joins Educational Message Services/PreventionPays Text Messaging Service

Kuppe brings over 30 years of experience in collective impact and communities’ improved outcomes. Mark has served in the role of president of the Minnesota Association for Community Mental Health Centers and served on their board of directors for eight years. He was one of the founding members of the National Association for Family-Based Services and the Minnesota Family Based Services Association and has served on both of their boards. He has served on the Washington County Community Corrections Advisory Board, was a member of the MN Suicide Prevention Planning Task force and has been a part of many task forces and committees statewide in Minnesota on issues of mental health in the community. He presently is a Board Member for the Minnesota Board of Law Examiners.

Mark was instrumental in developing and promoting the innovative suicide prevention program Txt4Life for the State of Minnesota. (see: https://txt4life.org/) Txt4Life serves Minnesota residents across all ages and demographics including all 11 Minnesota Tribal Nations.

Kuppe developed local and state funding for this suicide prevention work that includes 2.6 million over 4 years for this program. This texting model has now been replicated by several other states/regions/communities and their protocols have helped inform national entities including SAMHSA, NSPL, NAMI and CONTACT USA.  

Mark's high esteem for the crisis community coupled with his deep knowledge and unparalleled instincts related to cultivating new funding channels through innovative grant-making will help directors answer their big questions like:  how do I maintain adequate staffing/management for a text hotline/helpline? And how do I leverage my data to quantify the value/need for a text helpline? Mark is a highly regarded professional and friend among crisis line directors.

We are delighted to have Mark on the team! Questions or comments? Email info@preventionpaystext.com