Suspected Overdose Deaths for May in Delaware Set New Monthly High Total

Health Officials Fear Rising Death Toll Linked to Fentanyl, Cocaine

NEW CASTLE (June 8, 2022) – Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) officials announced a new monthly high total of deaths from suspected overdoses during May and said they fear the vast majority of the deaths will be connected to fentanyl, a powerful synthetic pain reliever that is 50-100 times more potent than morphine, or to the increasing use of cocaine, a powerfully addictive stimulant. In 2021, when a record 515 people died in Delaware from overdoses, more than 80% of the deaths involved fentanyl and more than 45% involved cocaine.

In May 2022, 42 people died from suspected overdoses in Delaware, according to the Delaware Division of Forensic Science. That surpassed the previous monthly high total set in August 2018 and tied in May 2020, of 39 deaths. In May 2022, preliminary totals show that 25 of the 42 deaths involved people in New Castle County, 12 in Sussex County and five in Kent County.

Through May 31, 159 people have died from suspected overdoses in Delaware, which is about the same rate as 2021.

“We know that more families and friends have Narcan at home or with them to try to reverse opioid overdoses, but, sadly, that cannot prevent every heartbreaking overdose death,” said DHSS Secretary Molly Magarik. “We urge families to convince their loved ones to get connected to treatment resources and services. Medical providers can make that referral or family members can drop by one of our Bridge Clinics to talk with trained counselors.”

Delawareans struggling with substance use disorder also can call DHSS’ Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health’s 24/7 Delaware Hope Line – a single point of contact where callers can connect to a variety of resources and information, including support from clinicians and peer specialists plus crisis assistance. For support, Delawareans can:

  • Drop by DHSS’ Bridge Clinics for in-person support, including access to naloxone (see locations and hours at the bottom of this release).
  • Reach the free Delaware Hope Line at 1-833-9-HOPEDE or 1-833-946-7333.
  • Get behavioral health tips and reminders by texting DEHOPE to 55753.
  • Search for treatment services and resources in Delaware or nearby states at DHSS’ one-stop website, HelpIsHereDE.com.

Joanna Champney, director of the Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health (DSAMH), emphasized that there is no wrong door for accessing treatment. She encourages individuals who need help to call or stop by one of the Bridge Clinics, located in each county. “Our Bridge Clinics greet walk-ins with dignity and no judgment,” Champney said. “Whether someone just needs to talk about their options or they’re ready for treatment, we can help you.”

Champney also pointed to DSAMH’s expansion of clinical services to people who are justice-involved, building on the Division’s “no wrong door” approach to offering substance use disorder treatment. “Through our partnership with the Delaware State Police, we’ve put clinicians in multiple police troop locations statewide so we can help people pre-arrest who have had a brush with the law,” she said. “We know that substance use disorders often are the driver for illegal behavior, so the idea is to treat the problem. We’re seeing very high success rates of connecting people to treatment through this program.”

The increase in deaths from suspected overdoses during May 2022 follows another increase in overdose deaths for all of 2021. In its annual report for 2021, the Division of Forensic Science (DFS) reported 515 overdose deaths, an increase of more than 15% over 2020. The 515 deaths by county:

  • New Castle County: 334
  • Sussex County: 94
  • Kent County: 87

Of the 515 total deaths, DFS reported that 425 (82.5%) involved fentanyl, a decline of seven-tenths of a percentage point from 2020, and 221 involved cocaine, an increase of almost 9 percentage points from 2020.

Division of Public Health Director Dr. Kary Rattay urged those in active use of any illicit substances to get Narcan through DHSS’ mail-order Next Distro program, one of DSAMH’s Bridge Clinics, at a participating pharmacy – where no prescription is required – or at a Narcan training.

“This increased loss of life is heartbreaking,” Dr. Rattay said. “It is important for the public to know that fentanyl is being added to multiple types of illicit substances and is seen more commonly with amphetamines like cocaine. We know that Narcan can and does save lives, so we urge anyone who is actively using any illicit substances, as well as family and friends, to have Narcan on hand and be trained on how to use the medication. Additionally, we encourage Delawareans to download OpiRescue Delaware, a smartphone app that provides life-saving step-by-step instructions on how to respond to an overdose, including how to administer Narcan.”

In addition, under Delaware’s 911/Good Samaritan Law, people who call 9-1-1 to report an overdose and the person in medical distress cannot be arrested for low-level drug crimes.

To find Narcan training or distribution events, or a participating pharmacy, go to HelpIsHereDE.com, and click on the overdose prevention tab. The Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health’s Bridge Clinic locations and hours:

NEW CASTLE COUNTY
DSAMH Central Office
14 Central Ave.
New Castle, DE 19720
24/7
302-255-1650

New Castle County Hope Center
365 Airport Road
New Castle, DE 19720
Mon-Fri: 8:30 a.m.-9:30 p.m.
Sat-Sun: 8:30 a.m.-6:30 p.m.
302-544-6815

KENT COUNTY
James W. Williams State Service Center
805 River Road, Third Floor
Dover, DE 19901
Mon-Fri: 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m.
302-857-5060

SUSSEX COUNTY
Thurman Adams State Service Center
546 S. Bedford St.
Georgetown, DE 19947
Mon-Fri: 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m.
302-515-3310


In Another Likely Consequence of Pandemic, Delaware Overdose Deaths Increase 15% in 2021

Division of Forensic Science Annual Report Finds Fentanyl Still Involved in More Than 80% of Deaths; Cocaine Link on the Rise

NEW CASTLE (May 24, 2022) – In what health officials fear is another consequence of the uncertainty associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, Delaware’s overdose deaths increased more than 15% in 2021 to a record high 515, according to the Delaware Division of Forensic Science’s annual report.

The Division of Forensic Science also reported 425 of the 515 deaths involved fentanyl, a synthetic pain reliever that is 50-100 times more potent than morphine. The percentage of total overdose deaths in 2021 involving fentanyl (82.5%) declined seven-tenths of a percentage point from 2020. The DFS report found a substantial increase in overdose deaths that involved cocaine, with the powerfully addictive stimulant found in 221 of the 515 individuals who died, an increase of almost 9 percentage points from 2020.

“Our worries about the impact that COVID-19 would have on Delawareans already struggling with substance use disorder appear to be borne out by the Division of Forensic Science report on overdose deaths,” said Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) Secretary Molly Magarik. “At DHSS, we will continue to prioritize such harm-reduction strategies as training more loved ones to use Narcan, the medication that can reverse an opioid overdose, and to help more people in getting connected to the treatment they need to begin their recovery.”

To help Delawareans cope with stress and address behavioral health needs during the coronavirus pandemic, DHSS’ Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health launched the 24/7 Delaware Hope Line – a single point of contact where callers can connect to a variety of resources and information, including support from clinicians and peer specialists plus crisis assistance. For support, Delawareans can:

  • Reach the free Hope Line at 1-833-9-HOPEDE or 1-833-946-7333.
  • Get behavioral health tips and reminders by texting DEHOPE to 55753.
  • Search for treatment services and resources in Delaware or nearby states at DHSS’ one-stop website, HelpIsHereDE.com.

Joanna Champney, director of the Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health (DSAMH), urged individuals in active substance use to consult with a medical provider immediately or to call the Delaware Hope Line to be connected to trained crisis professionals who can discuss treatment options. “The COVID-19 pandemic increased stress in people’s lives, negatively impacted mental health, and isolated people from services,” she said. “Coupled with the availability of illegal fentanyl, this created a very dangerous situation.”

“DSAMH is funding expansions of the continuum of care for substance use treatment services in each county – from withdrawal management to residential treatment, from outpatient treatment to sober living recovery residences,” Champney added. “For people who are uninsured or underinsured, the State will fund their treatment services. We’re also funding mobile treatment services and we have transportation services available. We want to reduce as many barriers to health care as possible.”

In its annual report for 2021, the Division of Forensic Science reported 515 overdose deaths, an increase of 15.2% over the 447 deaths reported in 2020. The 515 deaths by county:

  • New Castle County: 334
  • Sussex County: 94
  • Kent County: 87
    Of the 515 total deaths, 348 involved males (68%) and 167 involved females (32%). By race and ethnicity, 72% of the individuals who died were white (372); 24% were Black (122); 4% were Hispanic (20); and 1 was Asian.

The age category with the highest number of deaths was 31-40 with 144 (28%). The remaining age groups ranked by number of deaths:

  • 41-50: 128 deaths (24.9%)
  • 51-60: 115 deaths (22.3%)
  • 61 or older: 64 deaths (12.4%)
  • 21-30: 60 deaths (11.7%)
  • 10-20: 2 deaths (0.4%)

Champney encouraged anyone who is using substances or suffering from addiction to call for help, see a medical provider, or ask a police officer or another first responder for help. “Too many times, our police officers, EMTs and other first responders see first-hand the dangers of overdoses,” she said. “Our first priority is to save lives. If you or someone you know is ready to get help, we invite you to walk into one of our Bridge Clinics for an assessment, or go to TreatmentConnection.com to find out which treatment providers are located near you.”

Under Delaware’s 911/Good Samaritan Law, people who call 9-1-1 to report an overdose and the person in medical distress cannot be arrested for low-level drug crimes.

Division of Public Health (DPH) Director Dr. Karyl Rattay urged those in active use to obtain Narcan, which is available through many sources including at participating pharmacies – where no prescription is required – at a DSAMH bridge clinic, during a Narcan training session, or through DPH’s Mail Order Naloxone program. The mail order program is free and available to anyone with a mailing address in Delaware requesting it as a private citizen through https://nextdistro.org/delaware

“Narcan saves lives,” Dr. Rattay said. “We urge anyone who is actively using illicit substances, as well as their family and friends, to have Narcan on hand, and be trained in how to use the overdose-reversing medication. Additionally, we encourage Delawareans to download OpiRescue Delaware, a smartphone app that provides lifesaving step-by-step instructions on how to respond to an overdose, including administering Narcan.”

To find training or distribution events, a participating pharmacy, or the Bridge Clinic in your county, go to HelpIsHereDE.com, and click on the overdose prevention tab.

In addition, Dr. Rattay praised Brandywine Counseling and Community Services’ Syringe Services Program, which provides outreach statewide. Brandywine Counseling’s mobile sites offer Narcan, fentanyl testing strips, and syringe services, and have a positive track record of connecting people to care for substance use disorder.

The Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health’s Bridge Clinic locations and hours:

NEW CASTLE COUNTY

DSAMH Central Office

14 Central Ave.

New Castle, DE 19720

24/7

302-255-1650

New Castle County Hope Center

365 Airport Road

New Castle, DE 19720

Mon-Fri: 8:30 a.m.-9:30 p.m.

Sat-Sun: 8:30 a.m.-6:30 p.m.

302-544-6815

KENT COUNTY

James W. Williams State Service Center

805 River Road, Third Floor

Dover, DE 19901

Mon-Fri: 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m.

302-857-5060

SUSSEX COUNTY

Thurman Adams State Service Center

546 S. Bedford St.

Georgetown, DE 19947

Mon-Fri: 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m.

302-515-3310


Overdose Medication Distribution Planned For Smyrna Wednesday

Commissioner Navarro to provide Naloxone kits and training at event

Insurance Commissioner Trinidad Navarro, in collaboration with Public Health’s Kent County Community Response Team, the First Presbyterian Church of Smyrna, and the Smyrna-Clayton Ministerium will provide free training and opioid rescue kits to residents on Wednesday, October 14 from 2:00 to 5:00PM. The event, taking place outdoors at the First Presbyterian Church of Smyrna, 118 W. Commerce St. will offer both drive-through and walk up options in order to maintain social distancing.

“Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, we can’t forget about the opioid epidemic. Addiction has its grip on our community, and with this event and others, we can make sure that Naloxone gets to individuals and families who may need it during an opioid overdose emergency” said Commissioner Navarro. “While we continue to work to ensure that treatment for those with drug dependencies is affordable and accessible, events like these offer an opportunity to increase awareness and education life-saving techniques and tools.”

Attendees will spend roughly ten minutes being trained to recognize and respond to an opioid overdose emergency, as well as learning about local treatment and support resources. Opioid Rescue Kits, each containing two doses of Naloxone, an opioid overdose reversal medication, will be distributed. Residents who are at risk of experiencing and overdose, or individuals whose loved ones may be at risk, are strongly encouraged to attend.

If you or a loved one are struggling with substance abuse, do not wait, find help today. The Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health launched the 24/7 Hope line to serve as a single point of contact for resources, info, clinical and peer support, and crisis assistance. Call 1-833-9-HOPEDE or visit HelpisHereDE.com.

Any residents having problems obtaining insurance approval for treatment or prescriptions related to substance abuse or mental health needs, contact the Delaware Department of Insurance’s Consumer Services Division by emailing consumer@delaware.gov or calling (302) 674-7300.

Event attendees and media representatives must observe social distancing and wear a face covering.

NOTE TO MEDIA: If you plan to attend, please RSVP to Christina.Haas@Delaware.gov.


ATLAS™ Website Launches to Help Delawareans Navigate to Appropriate Addiction Treatment

NEW CASTLE (July 21, 2020) – The Delaware Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) today announced the launch of ATLAS™, the first resource of its kind to help those looking for addiction treatment find high-quality and appropriate care. This online platform, www.TreatmentATLAS.org, provides the public and decision makers across the state with transparent data on the use of evidence-based medical practices and patient experiences at addiction treatment facilities. ATLAS will empower Delawareans to seek the treatment that is most likely to put them on the path to recovery at a time when it is more necessary than ever.

ATLAS also will support statewide improvement in the quality of addiction treatment by democratizing data for use by the facilities to inform quality improvement initiatives by health care payers, such as employers and insurers, to align market forces with best practices. State officials will be able to disseminate resources and design future interventions. In Delaware, for the first six months of 2020, 190 people have died from suspected overdoses, according to the Delaware Division of Forensic Science. That’s about a 47% increase over the same 6 months in both 2018 and 2019. In all of 2019, Delaware reported 431 overdose deaths – up 8% from the total for 2018. “We are grateful for this partnership with Shatterproof to provide Delaware families with this online resource where they can find high-quality and trusted addiction treatment,” Delaware Governor John Carney said. “Getting people to the right care at the right time can help save lives and move more Delawareans into active and long-term recovery.”

Delaware is one of six states that has partnered with Shatterproof, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to reversing the addiction crisis in America, to develop and launch ATLAS.

“When my family was looking for addiction treatment for my son Brian, the system was impossible to navigate. If ATLAS was available, I believe we could have found evidence-based treatment and my son might be alive today,” said Gary Mendell, Founder and CEO of Shatterproof. “As I look forward as to how ATLAS will help so many people in need and their loved ones and as I learn more about how the COVID-19 pandemic is aggravating the already existing addiction public health crisis, it is so important that we make ATLAS available to everyone in Delaware and across the country.”

“We are worried about the impact that COVID-19 is having on Delawareans who already are struggling with substance use disorder,” said Delaware Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) Secretary Dr. Kara Odom Walker, a practicing family physician. “For Delaware families who are trying to navigate treatment services for their loved ones, this new tool from Shatterproof will help them find evidence-based, high-quality care that they can trust.”

ATLAS measures addiction treatment facilities’ use of best practices through a combination of validated data sources and reports them publicly. It enables the end-user to search and filter using different criteria and includes an expert-agreed upon Addiction Treatment Needs Assessment to help guide the search based on the individual’s needs. Recognizing that consumers are not the only market influencer that can propel the quality of the addiction treatment field, ATLAS is also designed for use by state agencies, health insurers and employers to align policies and payment decisions through expert agreed upon best practices. ATLAS enables treatment facilities that voluntarily submit data to benchmark themselves against their peers and design data-driven quality improvement initiatives, making this information transparent to the public in a user-friendly manner. Information is also made transparent to providers, payers, and states in a way that can drive quality improvement.

While all addiction treatment facilities across Delaware are listed on ATLAS, 64.7% of the facilities voluntarily reported on their services and practices. ATLAS also includes feedback from other patients once a minimum threshold of 20 responses per facility is met. This data updates every 24 hours.

In Delaware, individuals and families who are struggling with substance use disorder or mental health issues, can call the 24/7 Delaware Hope Line at 1-833-9-HOPEDE (1-833-946-7333). Or they can visit HelpIsHereDE.com, DHSS’ clearinghouse website, for a connection to treatment and recovery services and supports in Delaware or nearby states.

Finding addiction treatment can be extremely difficult. ATLAS is a trusted resource to help make this process easier. Join Shatterproof on July 21, 2020, as it celebrates the launch of ATLAS, an innovative new platform for locating appropriate, high-quality addiction treatment.


Commissioner Navarro Partners with Aquila to Distribute Overdose Medication

Will provide Naloxone kits and training at Seaford event

Insurance Commissioner Trinidad Navarro, the Town of Seaford, and Aquila Behavioral Health of Delaware have joined forces to deliver life-saving overdose reversal medication to residents on July 27 from 4:00 to 6:00PM at Williams Pond Park. Free opioid rescue kits provided by the Division of Public Health, will be distributed car-side to attendees along with trainings of how the product should be used. Each kit has two doses of Naloxone.

“I am proud to join Aquila in offering life-saving overdose reversal kits to residents. For individuals who are facing the struggle of addiction, or those who have family members or friends in this fight, a naloxone kit is a must-have. For those in this situation, having naloxone on hand is like having an airbag in your vehicle – we hope that you won’t need to use it, but it is important to have one because it could save a life” said Commissioner Navarro.

Coverage for mental health has been a priority of the Commissioner. Efforts include working with the General Assembly and insurers to require coverage for serious mental illnesses including addiction, creating Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act reporting requirements, and ensuring that medication-assisted treatment for those with drug and alcohol dependencies can be accessible.

The event comes as the Delaware is seeing increased overdose rates during the coronavirus pandemic, with 39 suspected overdose deaths in May, tying the highest monthly total. As of the end of May, 160 suspected overdose deaths have occurred in Delaware, a 60% increase over a similar period of 2019.

“Aquila is pleased to partner with the Insurance Commissioner and the Town of Seaford to ensure Naloxone gets into the hands and homes of all individuals who may need it to keep their loved ones safe – we know that nobody chooses addiction, and by making this opioid reversal drug available, we can give individuals another chance to get treatment. Thank you to Public Health for continuing to provide these kits to the community,” said Amy Kevis, Director of Development for Aquila Behavioral Health of Delaware. Aquila provides comprehensive psychiatric and substance abuse treatment statewide. Learn more by calling (302) 999-1106.

The Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health launched the 24/7 Hope line to serve as a single point of contact for resources, info, clinical and peer support, and crisis assistance. If you or a loved one are struggling with substance abuse, do not wait, find help today. Call 1-833-9-HOPEDE or visit HelpisHereDE.com.

Any residents having problems obtaining insurance approval for treatment or prescriptions related to substance abuse or mental health needs, contact the Delaware Department of Insurance’s Consumer Services Division by emailing consumer@delaware.gov or calling (302) 674-7300.

Event attendees and media representatives must observe social distancing and wear a face covering.