The Kentucky Poison Control Center of Norton Children’s Hospital has launched a 24/7 support hotline for health care providers, patients and first responders on opioid-related issues. The Kentucky Opioid Assistance & Resource (OAR) Hotline — (800) 854-6813 — is staffed by toxicology-certified nurses and pharmacists.

“The hotline serves all of Kentucky,” said Ashley Webb, M.Sc., Pharm.D., DABAT, executive director of the Kentucky Poison Control Center. “Our experts are available around the clock to provide information about opioid dependence, withdrawal and where to get help.”

For the public, the hotline offers advice on safe medication disposal, where to get naloxone ( an antidote) and how to use it. Staff also can directly connect users and their families to Operation UNITE for substance use disorder treatment and assist displaced patients of pain clinics that suddenly close.

For first responders, the hotline offers advice on immediate decontamination and management for those who may have been exposed to fentanyl or other opioids at a scene.

For health care providers, staff can offer recommendations for safe opioid prescribing, managing patient withdrawal and using medication-assisted therapy for opioid use disorders.

In 2017, Kentucky reported more than 1,100 opioid-involved deaths — a rate of 27.9 deaths per 100,000 people. That rate is nearly twice the national average. Last year, the Kentucky Poison Control Center handled more than 3,000 opioid exposures or opioid-related questions.