Drug Helplines are telephone services, providing any caller who telephones them with a high quality of service, which is reliant upon the competence of the staff who run them and ethical guidelines regarding human rights.
They represent an essential link in the national and/or local strategy for reducing the demand of drugs.
They can be defined by their function, the place they have within the different sectors involved (social, health and education) and the conditions which allow their existence.
By actively listening and not judging, drug helplines inform, guide, befriend, support, advise and help in order to:
In order to fullfil these functions the services are reliant upon the many skills of the people who run them - people who are specially trained in listening and helping over the phone and in the problems of drugs use and drug abuse.
Their place in society
With regard to drug issues, drug helplines have their place at the interface of the public and the services which provide help, treatment and prevention. They provide specialist answers to callers’ questions and offer a general service to organisations which specialise in drug addic-tion.
With regard to the people who use them (young people, adults, professionals, drug users and those around them) they aim to facilitate links and contact with them and promote equal access to the resources available (of information and care).
With regard to their particular place in society, drug helplines can provide a permanent guide to :
The condition of their existence
In order to fullfil their function, drug helplines must be able to rely on a contract which guarantee their financial stability; defines the nature of their links with funders; sets the statutory proceedings they may have to follow and how to resolve any lobbying they may be subject to.
In order to provide the public with a fully effective service they should offer a permanent service with a process of ongoing training.
Drug helplines should guarantee the anonymity of the caller and make sure any information taken remains confidential.
They must guarantee to provide the telephone advisors with ethical guidelines, which set limits and rights through a contract, the contents of which must be open to public knowledge.
Equally in the contact with callers and in their links with society, drug helplines must
seek to develop an environment which is conducive to talking and for questions to be
answered on the subject of drug use without dramatisation, without trivializing, and
without exclusion or rejection.