(KUTV) — Dennis Cecchini lost his son, Tennyson, to an overdose in May 2015.
“He suffered for 10 years with this awful disease,” said Cecchini. “He suffered most of the time in silence.”
Cecchini and his wife, Celeste, had tried several times to get Tennyson proper treatment. They relied on the advice of others and looked online for resources, but treatments they found there were ineffective.
They didn’t know where to turn.
“Scrambling to get some help is very hard, because you don’t know who to call, you don’t know who to ask,” Cecchini said.
The Cecchinis decided to take a look at what was missing in the state for families like them. They pushed for a helpline to give people a place to find resources for anyone dealing with substance use disorder.
Now, anyone in Utah can call 211 and get connected to specialists at United Way to help you find addiction resources.
“We have about 500 resources throughout the state that can help people,” said Beth Martial, managing director for Utah 211.
Each resource has been vetted to make sure it is legitimate and accessible. Resources are located all around the state, and specialists provide individualized help to each person who reaches out to them. Martial told 2News:
“Let’s take that wild goose chase out of that search and lean on us to be able to connect you with whatever it is that you may need.”
The specialists also offer follow-up calls to make sure someone received the help they were looking for.
Utah 211 has resources for other needs like housing, transportation, food, legal and medical help, employment, education, and more.
Substance use disorder resources were recently added as a pilot program in March of 2019.
“There’s a need. It’s evident that there’s a need; anecdotally we can see that,” Martial said.
Private money has funded the program the past year, but it runs out in June. Martial is committed to finding more funding.
“We’re very hopeful that we’ll be able to keep this body of work going,” she said.
So is Cecchini.
“There are so many people who need this help,” he said.
He vows to keep fighting for resources in Tennyson’s honor.
“He always cared about other people, which is why I would think he would want his mother and I to do whatever we could do to try to stop others from suffering the way he had to suffer.”
To reach out to Utah 211 and get help, you can do the following:
- Dial 211
- Text them at 898-211
- Chat with specialists online
- Send an email
- Or reach out on social media
Instructions on all of this can be found on the Utah 211 website.