The same company that has handled thousands of calls from people with gambling problems in West Virginia for more than ten years is now answering the calls to the West Virginia Prescription Drug Abuse Quitline.

Officials with First Choice Services announced the change on Thursday in Cabell County.  Up to now, calls to the Prescription Drug Abuse Quitline have been handled through West Virginia University's School of Medicine.

First Choice CEO Steve Burton says it's clear the service is needed in West Virginia and he wants his company to be involved.

"We're hoping, by putting education out there, making the treatment accessible to prescription drug abusers, we can help out with all those issues," Burton said.

The number for the West Virginia Prescription Drug Abuse Quitline, which is a resource for addicts and their family members, is 1-866-WVQUITT.  It is a confidential service.

When you call, Burton says, you'll receive immediate assistance from people trained in addiction and recovery services.

While a person is on the line, the clinical coordinator for First Choice will get in touch with a treatment professional in the caller's community and schedule an appointment.

"We know how difficult it is for an individual to call a quitline in the first place, so if you then say, 'Oh, here's another number you need to call,' the likeliness they're going to do that isn't great," Burton said.  "That's why we wanted to make that warm referral."

The help does not end with the scheduling of the appointment, though.  He says there is plenty of follow up about how treatment is going, whether it is working and how things are at home.

The number for the Problem Gamblers Help Network is still 1-800-GAMBLER.  Burton says that line is averaging about 200 calls every month.  Since its creation in August 2000, more than 10,000 calls have been answered.

He says he expects the same kinds of numbers for the West Virginia Prescription Drug Abuse Quitline which has already handled thousands of calls since it was created three years ago.

In West Virginia, drug overdose is the leading cause of death for residents under the age of 45.