“Never Use Alone”: Free 24-Hour Hotline Expands Across New England

October 20, 2021

The Never Use Alone Massachusetts hotline has become Never Use Alone New England, consolidating the free service for people using drugs across Massachusetts, Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire and Rhode Island. The phone number is the same: 1-800-972-0590.

If you’re about to use alone, you can call the hotline and a trained volunteer operator will stay on the phone with you—you can chat as much or as little as you’d like—and check in every two or three minutes to confirm whether you’re still responsive. If you become unresponsive, they will dispatch local emergency services to revive you.

Anyone in any US state or territory can call any of the Never Use Alone hotlines, regardless of their location. You can call the New England hotline if you’re about to use alone in New York, or call the New York hotline from Arizona, or the national hotline from Maine, and so on. All hotlines operate 24/7. People using drugs alone in Canada can access similar services through the Brave app.

“We just ask that if you live in one of the areas where there is a state or regional hotline, start with that one,” hotline director and MA-based paramedic Stephen Murray told Filter. “And then move on if you can’t get through.”

“We really encourage—beg—people to call us if they’re gonna be in a situation where they’re using alone.”

The MA and Vermont hotlines launched in spring 2020—the early days of the pandemic. By the end of 2020, New York state launched a hotline, too. But the smaller states were struggling to recruit enough local volunteers to keep up with call volume, which is why Murray, after consulting with harm reductionists in neighboring states like Maine, rebranded the Massachusetts line.

“The system kind of caps out how many available operators we can have at once, so if we spread out volunteers’ locations … we have the capacity to be taking more calls,” Murray said. “It’s gonna open us up to additional operators for [the New England] region … There’s a lot of pride in regional services, so this is good for recruitment and good for our callers.”


Heat map of calls made to Never Use Alone hotlines between April 2020 and June 2021.


In 2020, the service received more than 3,000 calls across all lines. Of those calls, 28 resulted in overdose. All 28 were successfully reversed.

Call volume, Murray said, has increased substantially in 2021. The hope for the New England line is that it will allow for a bigger pool of operators in that region, and thus the capacity to respond to the increasing number of calls.

“We really encourage—beg—people to call us if they’re gonna be in a situation where they’re using alone,” Murray said. “With the supply as poisoned as it is right now, it’s not worth it to take a risk for any reason. You could have two bags you bought from the same person, at the same time, and one you don’t have a strong reaction but the other could have a completely different potency.”




National Never Use Alone hotline: 1-800-484-3731. You can find additional information here.

Images courtesy of Stephen Murray

Kastalia Medrano

Kastalia is Filter's deputy editor. She’s previously worked for outlets including Newsweek and VICE, and is also a peer worker at a Brooklyn syringe program where she does outreach hep C testing and navigates people through treatment. She uses meth daily and other drugs sometimes.

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