Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, DHSS Bring New Statewide Resources for Families in Crisis

The Delaware Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) and Partnership for Drug-Free Kids are collaborating to bring dedicated, science-based resources and support to Delaware families. The two entities will work together to provide innovative, digital resources and one-on-one support to parents and caregivers as they help a loved one struggling with opioids or other substances.

With 192 overdose deaths occurring in the U.S. every day, underscored by a vast majority of people unable to access treatment, the combined effort between DHSS and Partnership for Drug-Free Kids aims to be a vital part of an integrated solution to affect statewide change.

In 2017, Delaware ranked sixth in the nation in drug overdose death rates, with most of these deaths directly linked to opioids, including heroin, prescription opioids and fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that is 50 times more powerful than heroin. Last year alone, Delaware lost 400 lives to overdose, marking an increase of 16% in overdose deaths from 2017 – and almost 3 in 4 of those deaths involved fentanyl.

“With thousands of Delawareans and their families continuing to be impacted by the disease of addiction, we need collaborations like this one with Partnership for Drug-Free Kids to offer critical support for parents and other caregivers,” said DHSS Secretary Dr. Kara Odom Walker, a board-certified and practicing family physician. “We need to listen to the challenges that families face and help them find a path to recovery for their loved ones.”

“We are honored to partner with the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services on this important project that will help close a gap in desperately needed support for Delaware families,” said Marcia Lee Taylor, Executive Vice President, External and Government Relations at Partnership for Drug-Free Kids. “Delaware has proven to be at the forefront of finding and adopting solutions to help those impacted by addiction. We are grateful to collaborate with a like-minded partner that understands the importance of bringing together a national family service infrastructure, coupled with local expertise and resources to make sure that more Delawareans get the help they need.”

This collaboration will be comprised of:

• A co-branded landing page tailored for Delaware families with resources, help and support.

• A dedicated Helpline for Delaware families (855-DRUG-FREE), where parents and other caregivers can connect with Parent Support Specialists who can listen to families’ challenges and help them develop an action plan that will help their child work toward recovery. Specialists will also be able to speak to state-specific issues like getting their loved one connected to treatment services through the START Initiative, finding needed clinical support through the Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health’s Bridge Clinic, exploring treatment and recovery services at, learning where naloxone is available and finding out how Delaware’s Good Samaritan Law works.

• Public service announcements (broadcast, radio, print and digital) to run in donated, pro-bono space thanks to the generosity of Delaware media.

“I’m pleased that families in Delaware will benefit from these best-in-class resources,” said Delaware Governor John Carney. “Across our state, I’ve heard from so many parents who are struggling to make that initial treatment connection for their adult children. Being able to provide parents with valuable, supportive and free resources will make a difference in their families’ lives.”

Josette Manning, Secretary of the Delaware Department of Services for Children, Youth and Their Families said, “We see the impact of substance use in families across the lifespan, from substance-exposed infants to parents and grandparents struggling with addiction. We welcome any partnership that increases prevention efforts and treatment opportunities so our families can achieve positive outcomes.”

The collaboration between Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, DHSS and the Delaware Department of Services for Children, Youth and Their Families (DSCYF) complements ongoing work to increase treatment and recovery services, reduce harm and expand prevention efforts by DHSS’ Division of Substance Abuse and Mental and Division of Public Health, and by the Behavioral Health Consortium, chaired by Delaware Lt. Governor Bethany Hall-Long. The Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health (DSAMH) has partnered with atTAcK addiction, a grassroots advocacy group led by parents impacted by addiction, and the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Delaware to train parents and other adults to handle Helpline calls.

“When I discovered that my son was struggling with heroin addiction, I didn’t know where to turn, or how to go about finding help for him. I never felt as helpless, hopeless and ashamed as I did during that time in my life,” said Belinda Wilson, a North Wilmington mom whose son is in now in recovery. “Finally, I was able to get my son the help he needed, but I realized I also needed support for my own self-care so that I would have the emotional and physical strength required to continue to help my son. Bringing these necessary resources to our state will help so many other families in Delaware, families like mine, have better outcomes for their loved ones who are struggling with substance use.”

For more information, visit

Delaware to Partner with Shatterproof to Develop Addiction Treatment Rating System Nationwide

NEW CASTLE (April 25, 2019) – The Delaware Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) today announced that Delaware is one of five states selected to partner with the national nonprofit Shatterproof in the development of a new pilot rating system designed to measure quality in addiction treatment programs. Delaware was selected due to the work the Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health (DSAMH) has undertaken as part of the Substance Use Treatment and Recovery Transformation Initiative (START), which was launched in October 2018.

Under the START Initiative, DSAMH is currently tracking quality and clinical measures for addiction treatment across the state and then sharing that information with providers to help them improve their services. The partnership with Shatterproof, which was formed in 2012 to end the devastation addiction causes families, will enhance these efforts by providing a common set of measures for providers to benchmark themselves against, not just in Delaware but across the United States. The Shatterproof Rating System will also allow those seeking treatment for themselves or a loved one to see overall ratings via a free, public website increasing the transparency of the entire system.

“We are committed to doing everything we can to improve the quality of care for those suffering from addiction,” said Lt. Governor Bethany Hall-Long, who chairs the Behavioral Health Consortium. “This partnership with Shatterproof is another leap forward for the START Initiative and will help ensure that Delawareans have a quality treatment system that works for them when they need it most.”

“The START Initiative was one of the first steps forward in embracing the recommendations of the Johns Hopkins report to strengthen the treatment system in our state,” said DHSS Secretary Dr. Kara Odom Walker, a board-certified family physician. “Being selected by Shatterproof to participate in this pilot program will further the goal of the START Initiative to offer care that is high-quality, comprehensive, coordinated, evidence-based, and person-centered.”

The Shatterproof Rating System will be piloted in select states over two years. The three other participating states that have been announced are Louisiana, Massachusetts and New York. The pilot will apply public rating system best practices to the addiction treatment field by measuring the evidence-based elements of care delivery shown to improve patient outcomes. This information will be gathered from three sources: insurance claims, provider surveys, and consumer experience. The roughly $5 million pilot is funded by a coalition of Shatterproof’s stakeholders and none of the treatment programs in the rating system, or pilot states, will pay any cost or provide funding.

“This pilot dovetails perfectly with the work that we are engaged in and is only going to amplify our efforts,” said DSAMH Director Elizabeth Romero. “Our providers have been and will continue to be essential partners in this effort to improve Delaware’s treatment system.”

Providers were briefed on the Shatterproof Rating System and the pilot program at a meeting in April. The rating system will give treatment programs the opportunity to benchmark themselves against their peers throughout the state, target their quality improvement efforts, and offer transparency to patients seeking treatment.

Upon successful completion of the two-year pilot, the system will continue in the pilot states and a nationwide rollout will eventually establish the Shatterproof Rating System as the national standard for measuring the quality of behavioral health treatment.

“Addiction is a chronic, relapsing disease that can be treated with the same effectiveness as other illnesses when using evidence-based best practices,” said Gary Mendell, Founder and CEO of Shatterproof. “Tragically, though, the quality of care varies widely among addiction treatment programs, and it’s difficult for individuals looking for care to identify high-quality programs. It is time that a standard be set across all addiction treatment, and that the entire system aligns behind evidence-based care.”

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction in Delaware, call DHSS’ 24/7 Crisis Hotline to be connected to treatment and recovery options. In New Castle County, call 1-800-652-2929. Or in Kent and Sussex counties, call 1-800-345-6785. To search online for treatment and recovery services in Delaware or nearby states, visit


The Department of Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of life of Delaware’s citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations.

DPH to Distribute Overdose Reversing Medication Naloxone March 20, 2019 in Dover

DOVER – In an effort to reduce the number of individuals dying from drug overdoses in Delaware, the Division of Public Health (DPH) will hold Community Naloxone Distribution events in each county throughout the month of March. DPH will distribute free naloxone kits to members of the general public from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., on Wednesday, March 20, 2019, at Delaware Technical Community College, Terry Campus, 100 Campus Drive, Dover, DE 19904. The distribution event will be held in the Corporate Training Center, Rooms 408 and 412. Individuals are encouraged to stop by at any time during the event. Training takes approximately 15 minutes. 

Each naloxone kit will contain two doses of naloxone, and members of the community who attend these events will receive one-on-one training on how to administer the overdose-reversing medication. The Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health (DSAMH) also will have representatives on hand to answer any questions about access to treatment for those struggling with substance use disorder.

About 80 percent of all overdoses happen in a private residence, whether it’s their own or someone else’s, which is why DPH is encouraging friends, family members, and those struggling with opioid addiction to have naloxone on hand. If family or friends of someone overdosing have naloxone immediately accessible, it can mean the difference between life or death for that person.

Within three to five minutes after administration, naloxone can counteract the life-threatening respiratory depression of an opioid-related overdose and stabilize a person’s breathing, which buys time for emergency medical help to arrive. DPH recommends calling 9-1-1 immediately if you find someone in the midst of a suspected overdose, starting rescue breathing, and then administering naloxone. Naloxone is not a replacement for emergency medical care and seeking immediate help and follow-up care is still vital.

Preliminary estimates for 2018 indicate 419 overdose deaths across the state, an increase of 21 percent from the 2017 total of 345 deaths, according to the Division of Forensic Science. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ranked Delaware number six in the nation for overdose mortality rate in 2017.

In 2018, first responders administered 3,728 doses of naloxone, compared to 2,861 in 2017, a 30 percent increase.

Funding for the Community Naloxone Distribution Initiative comes from state funding built into DPH’s budget for the first time in state fiscal year 2019, thanks to the advocacy of Lt. Governor Bethany Hall-Long and the Behavioral Health Consortium. In October, DPH also announced the agency was awarded federal funds to support the purchase of naloxone and other programs for first responders.

Community access to naloxone has increased significantly since 2014 when legislation was enacted making it available to the public. In 2017, Governor John Carney signed additional legislation ensuring pharmacists had the same legal protections as doctors, peace officers and good Samaritans when dispensing the medicine without a prescription.

Information on community training and pharmacy access to naloxone, along with resources regarding prevention, treatment and recovery are available at

A person who is deaf, hard-of-hearing, deaf-blind or speech-disabled can call the DPH phone number above by using TTY services. Dial 7-1-1 or 800-232-5460 to type your conversation to a relay operator, who reads your conversation to a hearing person at DPH. The relay operator types the hearing person’s spoken words back to the TTY user. To learn more about TTY availability in Delaware, visit

Delaware Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware’s citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations. DPH, a division of DHSS, urges Delawareans to make healthier choices with the 5-2-1 Almost None campaign: eat 5 or more fruits and vegetables each day, have no more than 2 hours of recreational screen time each day (includes TV, computer, gaming), get 1 or more hours of physical activity each day, and drink almost no sugary beverages.

Lieutenant Governor, Behavioral Health Consortium Present Governor with “Three-Year Action Plan”


Advisory body developed roadmap to address prevention, treatment and recovery


WILMINGTON, Del. – On Tuesday, Lieutenant Governor Bethany Hall-Long, along with members of the Behavioral Health Consortium, presented Governor Carney with their initial report, a “Three-Year Action Plan,” to confront addiction and mental illness across Delaware.

“I am proud to release this initial report to Governor Carney,” said Lieutenant Governor Bethany Hall-Long. “The members of the Behavioral Health Consortium have been meeting for over six months listening to members of the community tell their personal stories and experiences of how the addiction epidemic has affected them and gathering their feedback on how we can improve our behavioral health care system and better serve Delawareans. This report is an initial roadmap for the Governor and members of the General Assembly to address the challenges we face and start saving lives.”

Creation of the Behavioral Health Consortium was a recommendation of Governor Carney’s Action Plan for Delaware. Last August, the Governor signed Senate Bill 111, creating the advisory body of advocates, health officials, law enforcement, state leaders, and members of the community to develop an integrated plan addressing prevention, treatment and recovery for mental health, substance use, and co-occurring disorders. It has been meeting since October to develop both short and long term solutions to address behavioral health and the addiction epidemic in Delaware.

“Too many Delaware families are dealing with the effects of addiction and mental illness,” said Governor Carney. “This action plan gives us a path to follow, to directly confront many of the challenges facing Delaware families, to expand access to prevention and treatment services, and to reduce the stigma around mental illness and substance abuse. I asked Lieutenant Governor Hall-Long to lead this effort because she has the experience and leadership necessary to help us make real change. I look forward to reviewing this plan in more detail, and to talking to members of the General Assembly about a path forward. Thank you to the Lieutenant Governor, and all the advocates across our state for their leadership on this very important issue.”

Based on the data gathered by the Consortium, and from the voices of more than 600 Delawareans that participated in a community forum process, the report is divided into six main areas of action:

  • Access and Treatment
  • Changing Perceptions and Stigma
  • Corrections and Law Enforcement
  • Data and Policy
  • Education and Prevention
  • Family and Community Readiness

Each contains both immediate and longer term recommendations for action to improve the behavioral health care system in Delaware.

“Although the consortium already had a great deal of expertise among its members, the group still solicited a lot of public input that helped inform this first report,” said Representative David Bentz. “It’s also encouraging that this report includes a detailed action plan, which is something we can begin to enact almost immediately. This won’t be a report that sits on a shelf and collects dust – it’s going to get put good use right away, making a difference for residents facing mental health and substance abuse issues.”

“Thousands of families, advocates, medical professionals, and policymakers across the state have stood up and said that we need to meet the addiction crisis head-on,” said Senator Stephanie Hansen. “That’s an incredible resource, and the Behavioral Health Consortium’s focus has been keeping this train moving in the right direction. The Consortium’s final report is the product of months of work that provides a valuable North Star for Delaware as we combat this harrowing epidemic.

For more information on prevention, addiction, treatment and recovery, please visit Individuals who are suffering from addiction can also call DHSS’ 24/7 Crisis Hotline to be connected to treatment options. In New Castle County, call 800-652-2929, or Kent and Sussex Counties, call 800-345-6785.

Click here to view the Behavioral Health Consortium’s Three-Year Action Plan.

Click here to view the livestream from today’s event.


Related news:
Delaware Opioid Prescription Rates Falling Seven Months After New Regulations Enacted
In Response to Addiction Epidemic, DHSS Seeks Proposals to Implement Centers of Excellence Model to Improve State’s Substance Use System of Care
Delaware Steps Up Fight Against Addiction; Begins Work to Expand Mental Health Services
Governor Carney Signs Legislation Forming a Behavioral Health Consortium and Addiction Action Committee in Delaware
Governor Carney Signs Package of Legislation to Combat Addiction Crisis

Turn in Unused and Expired Medications on Drug Take-Back Day: October 28, 2017

a picture of a pill bottle with pills spilling out of it
Courtesy: Thinkstock

DOVER – With hundreds of lives being lost to drug overdoses each year in our state, Delaware will hold a Drug Take-Back Day on Saturday, October 28, 2017, to help reduce the risk of prescription medications being diverted for misuse. Delawareans can discard their expired or unused medications at 22 locations statewide between 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m.

Organized by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the Department of Health and Social Service (DHSS), the twice-a-year event has resulted in more than 70,000 pounds of medication being collected in 14 events. Properly discarding unused medications reduces the risk of addiction, keeps prescription medications out of the hands of people who may abuse them, helps prevent drug overdoses and protects groundwater.

“With the recent suspected overdose deaths in Kent County, people across the state are wondering what they can do to reduce the impact of addiction,” said DHSS Secretary Dr. Kara Odom Walker. “One concrete thing that everyone can do is to use Drug Take-Back Day as an opportunity to turn in your expired or unused medications. Tragically, in more than 80 percent of the 308 fatal overdoses in Delaware last year, the presence of one or more prescription drugs was detected.” National studies show that almost two-thirds of people who misuse prescription drugs get them from friends and family, including by raiding medicine cabinets, purses and drawers.

As of Oct. 18, 2017, there have been 180 suspected drug overdose deaths in Delaware. In 2016, 308 people died from drug overdoses, compared to 228 in 2015 and 222 in 2014.

In addition to the 22 participating sites in Drug Take-Back Day activities, there are also 21 permanent medicine drop-off locations across the state available year-round. In April, Walgreens became the first private Delaware retailer to install safe medicine disposal boxes. Six of Delaware’s permanent drop-off sites are in Walgreens pharmacies. The remaining 15 are located in local law enforcement agencies.

“Drug Take-Back Day is an important day to drop off medications, but we want people to be aware that they can safely dispose of unused and expired medications all year round,” said Division of Public Health (DPH) Director Dr. Karyl Rattay. “The permanent locations are an important tool in our fight against addiction, along with providing access to the drug overdose-reversing medication naloxone and getting those struggling with addiction into treatment.”

Delawareans seeking help for drug addiction, medical providers seeking information on patient education and treatment resources, or individuals searching for information about naloxone training classes and how to use the medicine, can visit The website, Delaware’s one-stop-shopping resource for information about education, prevention and treatment options for addiction, also features short testimonial videos from Delawareans in long-term recovery, parents who lost adult children to overdoses, a treatment provider and a police officer.

On Drug Take-Back Day, drugs for disposal must be in a container such as a pill bottle, box, blister pack, or zipped plastic bag, with personal information removed. Liquid medications must be in their original containers. Needles, aerosols, biohazard materials, medical equipment, and batteries will not be accepted.

For more details and a list of permanent collection sites, visit DPH at or 302-744-4546, ext. 4; and the DEA at

Delaware’s Drug Take-Back Day sites for Oct. 28, 2017 from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. are:

New Castle County
Christiana Care Surgical Center, 4755 Ogletown Stanton Road, Newark, DE 19718
Daniel S. Frawley Stadium, 801 Shipyard Drive, Wilmington, DE 19801
Delaware City Police Department, 407 Clinton St., Delaware City, DE 19706
Delaware State Police Troop 2, 100 La Grange Ave., Newark, DE 19702
Middletown Police Department, 130 Hampden Road, Middletown, DE 19709
New Castle County Airport, 151 N. DuPont Highway, New Castle, DE 19720
New Castle County Police Department, 3601 N. DuPont Highway, New Castle, DE 19720
Newark Police Department, 220 South Main St., Newark, DE 19711 (permanent collection site)
Wilmington VA Medical Center, 1601 Kirkwood Highway, Wilmington, DE 19805

Kent County
Atlantic Apothecary, 103. S. Dupont Blvd., Suite 2, Smyrna, DE 19977
Camden Police Department, 1783 Friends Way, Camden, DE 19934
Cheswold Police Department, 691 Main St., Cheswold, DE 19936
Delaware State Police Troop 3, 3759 S. State St., Camden, DE 19934
Felton Police Department, 24 East Sewell St., Felton, DE 19943 (permanent collection site)
Milford Police Department, 400 N.E. Front St., Milford, DE 19963 (permanent collection site)

Sussex County
City of Lewes Board of Public Works, 129 Schley Ave., Lewes, DE 19958
Dagsboro Police Department, 33134 Main St., Dagsboro, DE 19939
Delaware State Police Troop 4, 23652 Shortly Road, Georgetown, DE 19947
Delaware State Police Troop 7, 18006 Coastal Highway, Lewes, DE 19958
Laurel Police Department, 205 Mechanic St., Laurel, DE 19956 (permanent collection site)
Milton Police Department, 101 Federal St., Milton, DE 19968
Ocean View Police Department, 201 Central Ave., Ocean View, DE 19970 (permanent collection site)

For further information on addiction recognition, prevention and treatment, visit

A person who is deaf, hard-of-hearing, deaf-blind or speech-disabled can call the DPH phone number above by using TTY services. Dial 7-1-1 or 800-232-5460 to type your conversation to a relay operator, who reads your conversation to a hearing person at DPH. The relay operator types the hearing person’s spoken words back to the TTY user. To learn more about TTY availability in Delaware, visit

Delaware Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware’s citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations. DPH, a division of DHSS, urges Delawareans to make healthier choices with the 5-2-1 Almost None campaign: eat 5 or more fruits and vegetables each day, have no more than 2 hours of recreational screen time each day (includes TV, computer, gaming), get 1 or more hours of physical activity each day, and drink almost no sugary beverages.