Nonprofit organization First Choice Services has taken over the state's Prescription Drug Abuse Quitline from the West Virginia University School of Medicine.

 The Quitline, created in 2008, was funded through a settlement from prescription drug company Purdue Pharma because of its marketing of OxyContin.

 Because funding ended in June 2011, the goal has always been to find a partner to help sustain the efforts of the Quitline, said Dr. Keith Zullig, chairman of WVU's Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences.

 "We're very pleased to have the partnership of First Choice Services," Zullig said. "There's no question."

 First Choice Services CEO Steve Burton said the nonprofit organization's 12-year history of operating a gamblers helpline has given it the infrastructure it needs to operate the Quitline.

 "We thought we were the perfect fit for the Prescription Drug Abuse Quitline," Burton said, adding that the organization has a network of clinicians in the state that is able to see clients with a number of mental health issues.

 The confidential Quitline connects prescription drug abusers or their family members with a network of mental health providers. Services include referral to treatment, scheduling appointments with help centers and listening to callers.

 Since its beginning, 1,200 people have used the Quitline, Zullig said. Like all helplines, West Virginia's Prescription Drug Abuse Quitline is vastly underused compared to the need that exists, he said.

 First Choice needs annual funding of $300,000 to maintain the line's operation. It will seek funding from the Legislature, grants and private sources, Burton said.

 There also is $70,000 remaining from the initial court settlement, which will allow operation for the next several months.

 The WVU School of Medicine, through its Department of Community Medicine, will provide data analysis to evaluate the program's success. Community Medicine also will provide data analysis for First Choice's problem-gambling helpline.

 To contact the Quitline, call 1-866-987-8488 (1-866-WV-QUITT).

http://wvgazette.com/News/201201050192