Wendy Williams Launches Substance Abuse Hotline a Week After Returning to Show
Wendy Williams battled a cocaine addiction in her 20s and 30s and previously told PEOPLE drugs were "a demon I had to overcome"
Wendy Williams wants to help others in need.
A week after returning to her talk show following a lengthy health-related hiatus, the host announced Monday on The Wendy Williams Show that her family’s Hunter Foundation has partnered with T.R.U.S.T., an organization dedicated to building a bridge from treatment to long-term recovery, to launch a national resource hotline. 1-888-5HUNTER (1-888-548-6837) will provide resources to those suffering from drug addiction or substance abuse, their families and loved ones, or the general public to receive education and awareness information.
“The Hunter Foundation launched a 24-hour nationwide hotline to offer treatment resources to get help for you if you happen to be addicted to drugs and substance abusing,” Williams, 54, told viewers. “What you do is you call, and your call will be answered by specially-trained, certified recovery coaches. These people will provide you, should you want help, with referrals and treatment facilities. If that’s you, we’re here to help.”
The 24-hour hotline will be fully staffed by specially trained certified recovery coaches who will conduct assessments and match callers with lists of treatment facilities including detox, rehabilitation, sober living and outpatient centers throughout the country.
The intake process will also include an evaluation on the level of care needed, the drugs or substances being used, as well as financial circumstances, to match the patient with facilities that may accept Medicaid, self-pay or private insurance.
In a statement, Williams said: “We must all come together to respond to this crisis of addiction and substance abuse. Everyone is at risk from the inner cities to more affluent communities. My family and I are very proud to partner with T.R.U.S.T. to get people the help that they so desperately need, especially if they or their families have given up hope. There is hope.”
Ron Clinton, President of T.R.U.S.T. said, “We are pleased to partner with The Hunter Foundation to help spread the message that there is hope and recovery can work! With over 70,000 overdose deaths in the past year, we can make an impact together to combat this crisis through awareness and treatment. We are grateful to the Hunter family for undertaking this initiative and for asking T.R.U.S.T. to facilitate this life-saving effort.”
Williams made a name for herself on New York and Philadelphia radio, paving the way for TV stardom when she launched The Wendy Williams Show in 2008. But she faced hardships in her 20s and 30s, including a cocaine addiction. “Drugs were a demon I had to overcome,” she told PEOPLE in 2014.
Last year, she launched the “Be Here” National Campaign designed to combat drug addiction and substance abuse in communities.
“I was a functioning addict,” she told Entertainment Tonight while discussing the initiative, recalling how her own battle with addiction developed during her days working in radio. “I report to work on time, and I’d walk in and all my co-workers, including my bosses, would know but since I would have my headphones on and walk in the studio and [they] wouldn’t fire me because I was making ratings.”
“A functioning addict has several alarm clocks, you’re organized,” she continued. “It’s a miracle I was able to stop.”
The Wendy Williams Show airs weekdays (check local listings).
If you or someone you know is in need of help, please contact the SAMHSA substance abuse helpline at 1-800-662-HELP.