Delaware News


Delaware Officials Provide Latest Updates, Underscore Urgency Surrounding Increased Overdose Deaths in the State

Delaware Health and Social Services | Delaware State Police | Department of Safety and Homeland Security | Division of Public Health | Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health | Featured Posts | Lt. Governor Bethany Hall-Long | News | Office of the Lieutenant Governor | Date Posted: Wednesday, January 18, 2023


Brandywine Counseling and Community Services CEO Dr. Lynn Morrison.

NEWARK (Jan. 18, 2023) – Today, Lieutenant Governor Bethany Hall-Long, along with top leaders from the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) and Delaware Department of Safety and Homeland Security (DSHS), led a community response briefing to provide the latest information about suspected drug overdose deaths in the state, current and emerging dangers of illicit drug use, and a clear call to action to reduce overdose deaths through collaboration and innovative programs.

In 2021, Delaware reported 515 overdose deaths, an increase of more than 15% over 2020, according to the Delaware Division of Forensic Science (DFS). In Kent County, overdose deaths increased 74% from 50 in 2020 to 87 in 2021. DFS also reported that 425 of the 515 deaths involved fentanyl, a synthetic pain reliever that is 50-100 times more potent than morphine.

“As a nurse, Chair of the Behavioral Health Consortium, and Lt. Governor, I hear every day from Delawareans and their families about the challenges they face battling substance use disorder and receiving the treatment services they so desperately need,” said Lt. Governor Bethany Hall-Long. “We are working hard across our systems to expand access and connect individuals to quality treatment services. In 2020, Delaware was one of only four states to experience a decrease in the rate of overdose deaths thanks to the hard work of those who are committed to this fight. Still, too many families have an empty seat at the table because their loved one lost the battle to substance use disorder. The current data is alarming. We have to do even more to support them and ensure critical treatment and recovery services are ready and available, and to stop the loss. Delawareans deserve a behavioral health system that works for everyone.”

During the event, DHSS’s Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health (DSAMH) announced the establishment of the Opioid Response Center, which will soon utilize overdose incident data to dispatch targeted community outreach teams who will distribute Narcan and share information about how individuals can get help if they are struggling with addiction. The center is also planning to provide follow-up outreach to community members who have overdosed but who refused subsequent medical care.

DSAMH Director Joanna Champney underscored the sense of urgency among state leadership regarding opioid overdoses and introduced plans to hold quarterly briefings going forward to keep the public informed about the State’s ongoing work to reduce overdoses and respond to the opioid epidemic.

“With overdose deaths continuing to rise, we must escalate our sense of urgency through regular and targeted discussions about the emerging dangers so people know exactly how they can get help.” Champney said.

Nathaniel McQueen, Secretary for the Delaware Department of Safety and Homeland Security spoke of the agency’s commitment to reducing opioid deaths and pointed to the importance of collaboration among agencies and community partners.

“It is our hope that by increasing awareness of the great work done across our state and providing our citizens with data and resources associated with these programs, it will spark a call to action so that we are all better informed and can collectively join the efforts to combat substance use disorder, ultimately reducing the number of overdose deaths in Delaware,” said Secretary McQueen.

According to John Evans, Director of the Division of Forensic Science, preliminary reports show that there were 406 confirmed overdose deaths in the first three quarters of 2022, with approximately 124 suspected overdose deaths still pending final testing from the last quarter of 2022. This compares to 374 confirmed overdose deaths in the first three quarters of 2021.

“Unfortunately, the number of accidental drug overdose deaths occurring in the State has seen a 19% increase over the last three years,” said Evans. “Fentanyl continues to be the most frequently found compound, with it being identified in 82.5% of the overdose deaths. If you are a white male between the ages of 30-59, you are the most likely to die in our state as the result of a drug overdose.”

Captain Joshua Bushweller, Intelligence Commander and Director of the Delaware Intelligence and Analysis Center (DIAC) at the Delaware State Police shared that more than 5,000 drug related crime incidents occurred in 2022, with 19% being cocaine related, 19% heroin related, 3% methamphetamine, 2% hallucinogen., 2% amphetamine, 1% opium, and 3% other. Marijuana comprised 32% and paraphernalia 19%. New Castle County continues to have the highest incidence of opioid crime incidents compared to the other counties. Capt. Bushweller displayed a heatmap showing drug incident hotspots, calling attention to the top five cities with drug incidents in the last five years. The cities in order of prevalence are Wilmington, Dover, Newark, New Castle, and Seaford.

“The Delaware Information and Analysis Center remains committed, determined, and focused with our partners in reducing drug overdoses in Delaware,” said Bushweller. “We understand substance use disorder not only affects its victims, but their families and our communities are deeply impacted as well. The DIAC will continue to strive to serve as a meaningful partner by providing real time data, thorough analysis, and quality feedback to the various stakeholders as we collectively work together towards a healthier Delaware.”

Brent Waninger, DSAMH’s Director of Programs and Grant Administration, provided updated information on the state’s Police Diversion Program, a partnership between Delaware State Police and DSAMH. Individuals who are arrested with certain drug-related offenses are offered the option of meeting with a DSAMH representative who offers information about entering a substance use treatment program. Individuals who agree to enter treatment are eligible to be diverted from prosecution. Waninger was flanked during the briefing by clinicians and peers from DSAMH who are embedded at Delaware State Police Troop locations statewide, as well as State Police personnel instrumental in the program’s launch.

“These are some of the friendly faces who stand ready to talk with you about treatment, said Waninger. These are the people whose commitment, work ethic, real-life experience, and personal compassion have ensured that of the more than 1,000 referrals the PDP has connected with, nearly 40% have accepted the program, and of those, almost 70% were successfully connected to treatment services.”

Dr. Greg Wanner, Chief Physician for the Division of Public Health, provided a demonstration of the use of fentanyl test strips that are now included in the Narcan kits being distributed. The test strips are highly sensitive and will detect fentanyl down to 0.1 mcg/ml.

“The use of fentanyl test strips is an important part of a comprehensive harm reduction strategy to reduce overdose deaths in the state,” said Dr. Wanner. “Fentanyl is the leading cause of drug overdose deaths in Delaware. The test strips are a preventive measure. After a test strip detects fentanyl, an individual can choose not to use the drug based on the additional risk. We will continue to discourage drug use and encourage people to seek treatment, but for persons with substance use disorder, we are using a compassionate approach to help raise awareness and empower those individuals to make informed choices.”

Brandywine Counseling and Community Services CEO Dr. Lynn Morrison discussed community outreach efforts happening across the state, including their various drop-in centers as well as Outreach Packs that are available for distribution increase in several programs including distributing Naloxone statewide, providing access to their mobile treatment and syringe services, and providing technology-based behavioral interventions.

“Recovery, hope, empowerment, and innovation – those concepts are what we must embrace every day if we want to tackle the overdose crisis in our communities,” said Dr. Morrison. “By intensifying our boots-on-the-ground approach to high-risk communities, we are confident we can reach those who need our services and support. Brandywine Counseling and Community Services has always been a welcoming and innovative organization – and we are determined to build stronger communities, by giving hope –and help – to the most vulnerable among us.”

DHSS Cabinet Secretary Molly Magarik closed the briefing with a call to action, encouraging Delawareans who need support – whether they are actively using substances or not – to reach out to trusted sources for help.

“We’re urging people who are struggling with addiction to consider different paths towards help,” said Secretary Magarik. “You can ask for the Police Diversion Program if you get in trouble with the law and are ready to get help. You can visit HelpIsHereDE.com to get information about Bridge Clinics where you can walk in and talk to someone who is in recovery themselves and who can help you explore your options for treatment. You can order fentanyl test strips from HelpisHereDE.com so you know what’s in the drugs you’re using and so you can make smart choices about protecting yourself. And you can connect with Brandywine Counseling’s drop-in centers to get help.”

To help address behavioral health needs of Delawareans, DHSS has several ways for individuals or their family members to connect:

  • Call the 24/7 Delaware Hope Line at 1-833-9-HOPEDE or 1-833-946-7333 – a single point of contact in which callers can connect to a variety of resources and information, including support from clinicians and peer specialists plus crisis assistance.
  • Stop by one of DHSS’ Bridge Clinics for an in-person assessment.
  • Visit TreatmentConnection.com to find out which treatment providers are located near you.
  • Visit HelpIsHereDE.com, DHSS’ one-stop website where Delawareans can search for treatment services and resources in Delaware or nearby states.
  • Call 988 if the individual is in crisis and needs immediate support.
  • Call 911 if someone has overdosed and needs emergency medical attention.
  • Learn where to find Narcan training, get the medication through the mail, and download the OpiRescueDE App here.
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Delaware Officials Provide Latest Updates, Underscore Urgency Surrounding Increased Overdose Deaths in the State

Delaware Health and Social Services | Delaware State Police | Department of Safety and Homeland Security | Division of Public Health | Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health | Featured Posts | Lt. Governor Bethany Hall-Long | News | Office of the Lieutenant Governor | Date Posted: Wednesday, January 18, 2023


Brandywine Counseling and Community Services CEO Dr. Lynn Morrison.

NEWARK (Jan. 18, 2023) – Today, Lieutenant Governor Bethany Hall-Long, along with top leaders from the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) and Delaware Department of Safety and Homeland Security (DSHS), led a community response briefing to provide the latest information about suspected drug overdose deaths in the state, current and emerging dangers of illicit drug use, and a clear call to action to reduce overdose deaths through collaboration and innovative programs.

In 2021, Delaware reported 515 overdose deaths, an increase of more than 15% over 2020, according to the Delaware Division of Forensic Science (DFS). In Kent County, overdose deaths increased 74% from 50 in 2020 to 87 in 2021. DFS also reported that 425 of the 515 deaths involved fentanyl, a synthetic pain reliever that is 50-100 times more potent than morphine.

“As a nurse, Chair of the Behavioral Health Consortium, and Lt. Governor, I hear every day from Delawareans and their families about the challenges they face battling substance use disorder and receiving the treatment services they so desperately need,” said Lt. Governor Bethany Hall-Long. “We are working hard across our systems to expand access and connect individuals to quality treatment services. In 2020, Delaware was one of only four states to experience a decrease in the rate of overdose deaths thanks to the hard work of those who are committed to this fight. Still, too many families have an empty seat at the table because their loved one lost the battle to substance use disorder. The current data is alarming. We have to do even more to support them and ensure critical treatment and recovery services are ready and available, and to stop the loss. Delawareans deserve a behavioral health system that works for everyone.”

During the event, DHSS’s Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health (DSAMH) announced the establishment of the Opioid Response Center, which will soon utilize overdose incident data to dispatch targeted community outreach teams who will distribute Narcan and share information about how individuals can get help if they are struggling with addiction. The center is also planning to provide follow-up outreach to community members who have overdosed but who refused subsequent medical care.

DSAMH Director Joanna Champney underscored the sense of urgency among state leadership regarding opioid overdoses and introduced plans to hold quarterly briefings going forward to keep the public informed about the State’s ongoing work to reduce overdoses and respond to the opioid epidemic.

“With overdose deaths continuing to rise, we must escalate our sense of urgency through regular and targeted discussions about the emerging dangers so people know exactly how they can get help.” Champney said.

Nathaniel McQueen, Secretary for the Delaware Department of Safety and Homeland Security spoke of the agency’s commitment to reducing opioid deaths and pointed to the importance of collaboration among agencies and community partners.

“It is our hope that by increasing awareness of the great work done across our state and providing our citizens with data and resources associated with these programs, it will spark a call to action so that we are all better informed and can collectively join the efforts to combat substance use disorder, ultimately reducing the number of overdose deaths in Delaware,” said Secretary McQueen.

According to John Evans, Director of the Division of Forensic Science, preliminary reports show that there were 406 confirmed overdose deaths in the first three quarters of 2022, with approximately 124 suspected overdose deaths still pending final testing from the last quarter of 2022. This compares to 374 confirmed overdose deaths in the first three quarters of 2021.

“Unfortunately, the number of accidental drug overdose deaths occurring in the State has seen a 19% increase over the last three years,” said Evans. “Fentanyl continues to be the most frequently found compound, with it being identified in 82.5% of the overdose deaths. If you are a white male between the ages of 30-59, you are the most likely to die in our state as the result of a drug overdose.”

Captain Joshua Bushweller, Intelligence Commander and Director of the Delaware Intelligence and Analysis Center (DIAC) at the Delaware State Police shared that more than 5,000 drug related crime incidents occurred in 2022, with 19% being cocaine related, 19% heroin related, 3% methamphetamine, 2% hallucinogen., 2% amphetamine, 1% opium, and 3% other. Marijuana comprised 32% and paraphernalia 19%. New Castle County continues to have the highest incidence of opioid crime incidents compared to the other counties. Capt. Bushweller displayed a heatmap showing drug incident hotspots, calling attention to the top five cities with drug incidents in the last five years. The cities in order of prevalence are Wilmington, Dover, Newark, New Castle, and Seaford.

“The Delaware Information and Analysis Center remains committed, determined, and focused with our partners in reducing drug overdoses in Delaware,” said Bushweller. “We understand substance use disorder not only affects its victims, but their families and our communities are deeply impacted as well. The DIAC will continue to strive to serve as a meaningful partner by providing real time data, thorough analysis, and quality feedback to the various stakeholders as we collectively work together towards a healthier Delaware.”

Brent Waninger, DSAMH’s Director of Programs and Grant Administration, provided updated information on the state’s Police Diversion Program, a partnership between Delaware State Police and DSAMH. Individuals who are arrested with certain drug-related offenses are offered the option of meeting with a DSAMH representative who offers information about entering a substance use treatment program. Individuals who agree to enter treatment are eligible to be diverted from prosecution. Waninger was flanked during the briefing by clinicians and peers from DSAMH who are embedded at Delaware State Police Troop locations statewide, as well as State Police personnel instrumental in the program’s launch.

“These are some of the friendly faces who stand ready to talk with you about treatment, said Waninger. These are the people whose commitment, work ethic, real-life experience, and personal compassion have ensured that of the more than 1,000 referrals the PDP has connected with, nearly 40% have accepted the program, and of those, almost 70% were successfully connected to treatment services.”

Dr. Greg Wanner, Chief Physician for the Division of Public Health, provided a demonstration of the use of fentanyl test strips that are now included in the Narcan kits being distributed. The test strips are highly sensitive and will detect fentanyl down to 0.1 mcg/ml.

“The use of fentanyl test strips is an important part of a comprehensive harm reduction strategy to reduce overdose deaths in the state,” said Dr. Wanner. “Fentanyl is the leading cause of drug overdose deaths in Delaware. The test strips are a preventive measure. After a test strip detects fentanyl, an individual can choose not to use the drug based on the additional risk. We will continue to discourage drug use and encourage people to seek treatment, but for persons with substance use disorder, we are using a compassionate approach to help raise awareness and empower those individuals to make informed choices.”

Brandywine Counseling and Community Services CEO Dr. Lynn Morrison discussed community outreach efforts happening across the state, including their various drop-in centers as well as Outreach Packs that are available for distribution increase in several programs including distributing Naloxone statewide, providing access to their mobile treatment and syringe services, and providing technology-based behavioral interventions.

“Recovery, hope, empowerment, and innovation – those concepts are what we must embrace every day if we want to tackle the overdose crisis in our communities,” said Dr. Morrison. “By intensifying our boots-on-the-ground approach to high-risk communities, we are confident we can reach those who need our services and support. Brandywine Counseling and Community Services has always been a welcoming and innovative organization – and we are determined to build stronger communities, by giving hope –and help – to the most vulnerable among us.”

DHSS Cabinet Secretary Molly Magarik closed the briefing with a call to action, encouraging Delawareans who need support – whether they are actively using substances or not – to reach out to trusted sources for help.

“We’re urging people who are struggling with addiction to consider different paths towards help,” said Secretary Magarik. “You can ask for the Police Diversion Program if you get in trouble with the law and are ready to get help. You can visit HelpIsHereDE.com to get information about Bridge Clinics where you can walk in and talk to someone who is in recovery themselves and who can help you explore your options for treatment. You can order fentanyl test strips from HelpisHereDE.com so you know what’s in the drugs you’re using and so you can make smart choices about protecting yourself. And you can connect with Brandywine Counseling’s drop-in centers to get help.”

To help address behavioral health needs of Delawareans, DHSS has several ways for individuals or their family members to connect:

  • Call the 24/7 Delaware Hope Line at 1-833-9-HOPEDE or 1-833-946-7333 – a single point of contact in which callers can connect to a variety of resources and information, including support from clinicians and peer specialists plus crisis assistance.
  • Stop by one of DHSS’ Bridge Clinics for an in-person assessment.
  • Visit TreatmentConnection.com to find out which treatment providers are located near you.
  • Visit HelpIsHereDE.com, DHSS’ one-stop website where Delawareans can search for treatment services and resources in Delaware or nearby states.
  • Call 988 if the individual is in crisis and needs immediate support.
  • Call 911 if someone has overdosed and needs emergency medical attention.
  • Learn where to find Narcan training, get the medication through the mail, and download the OpiRescueDE App here.
image_printPrint

Related Topics:  , , , , , , , ,


Graphic that represents delaware news on a mobile phone

Keep up to date by receiving a daily digest email, around noon, of current news release posts from state agencies on news.delaware.gov.

Here you can subscribe to future news updates.