Division Of Public Health Releases Information On 2020 Delaware Unintentional Drug Overdose Deaths

DOVER, DE (August 30, 2022) – The Division of Public Health (DPH) is releasing a 2020 State Unintentional Drug Overdose Reporting System (SUDORS) fact sheet on all drug overdose deaths that occurred in Delaware. This snapshot contains fatality data abstracted from the state’s Overdose Data to Action (OD2A) collaborative. DPH collects and analyzes unintentional drug overdose death data from death certificate information, medical examiner reports, forensic toxicology results, and law enforcement reports.

The fact sheet provides information on the drugs listed as the cause of death on the death certificate and drugs identified as present by toxicology or medical examiner reporting. Almost all heroin overdose deaths had fentanyl present (99%). Furthermore, fentanyl was the drug most frequently listed as the cause of death (84%). Most overdose deaths had more than one drug present (78%) and (84%) of all cocaine overdose deaths had fentanyl. Similarly, fentanyl presence is high among methamphetamine (79%) and benzodiazepine (79%) overdose deaths.

“As we commemorate International Overdose Awareness Day on August 31 and remember the lives lost to overdose, it is important for all Delawareans and visitors to the state to know that no illicit drug is safe,” said DPH Interim Director Dr. Rick Hong. “Assume that drugs not prescribed by your doctor contain, or are laced with, fentanyl. The information analyzed by the Overdose Data to Action collaborative clearly shows that fentanyl is present in not only opioids, but also cocaine, and counterfeit prescription medications.”

DPH is finalizing its strategy to distribute fentanyl test strips in bulk. Currently, the public can receive two test strips in any DPH Narcan kit, which are available through mail order and at points of distribution (POD) events listed on HelpisHereDE.com. To prevent overdose death, in addition to having Narcan on hand and utilizing fentanyl test strips, a person in active substance use should never use alone and go slow so that someone they trust can monitor them for any adverse side effects.

To prevent the spread of infectious diseases, DPH encourages persons with substance use disorder (SUD) to engage with Brandywine Counseling & Community Services for more information and syringe exchange services by visiting BrandywineCounseling.com or calling 302-656-2348

DPH encourages those struggling with SUD to visit HelpIsHereDE.com to connect to treatment online, in person, or by phone.

Friends and family need to recognize the signs and symptoms of a SUD. It is also important that parents, educators, counselors, and other influential members recognize the seriousness of fentanyl and have conversations about the risk of overdose when experimenting with drugs. 

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction in Delaware, call the 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.

For free 24/7 counseling, coaching, and support, as well as links to mental health, addiction, and crisis services call the Delaware Hope Line at 833-9-HOPEDE. To search for treatment and recovery services in Delaware or nearby states, visit HelpIsHereDE.com.

Delaware Overdose Deaths in 2020
Delaware Overdose Deaths in 2020

###

The Delaware Division of Public Health (DPH), a division of the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services, is a nationally accredited public health agency recognized by the Public Health Accreditation Board for outstanding dedication to driving change through innovation. DPH 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. 

Anyone who is deaf, hard of hearing, Deaf-Blind or speech disabled can contact DPH by first dialing 711 using specialized devices (i.e., TTY, TeleBraille, voice devices). The 711 service is free and to learn more about how it works, visit delawarerelay.com.


Surge in Fentanyl-Related Overdoses Pushes State’s Fatal Overdose Total Past 300 for 2016

NEWS FROM THE DELAWARE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND SOCIAL SERVICES AND THE DELAWARE DEPARTMENT OF SAFETY AND HOMELAND SECURITY

 

Surge in Fentanyl-Related Overdoses Pushes State’s Fatal Overdose Total Past 300 for 2016; Health and Law Enforcement Officials Urge Delawareans Struggling with Addiction to Seek Treatment

NEW CASTLE (Feb. 13, 2017) – An alarming increase in fentanyl-related overdose deaths in 2016 drove the total number of fatal overdoses in Delaware past 300, with fentanyl-related deaths divided among fentanyl alone and fentanyl mixed with cocaine or heroin, or both, according to figures released by the Division of Forensic Science.

Through toxicology analysis, the Division of Forensic Science confirmed the presence of fentanyl in more than a third of the 308 total fatal overdoses for 2016. Fentanyl is a synthetic painkiller that is up to 50 times more potent than heroin. In the 120 fentanyl-related deaths, fentanyl alone was confirmed in 51 cases, cocaine also was present in 48 cases, and heroin was confirmed in 37. In 16 cases, heroin and cocaine were both confirmed positive, in addition to fentanyl.

In all of 2015, there were 42 overdose deaths involving fentanyl in Delaware.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported death rates from synthetic opioids, including fentanyl, increased 72 percent from 2014 to 2015. In Delaware, the number of fentanyl-related deaths soared by 180 percent from 15 deaths in 2012 to 42 deaths in 2015. From 2015 to 2016, the rate almost tripled, increasing by 186 percent.

Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) Secretary Dr. Kara Odom Walker, a family physician, urged individuals in active substance use to see a medical provider immediately or call DHSS’ 24/7 Crisis Services Helpline to be connected to addiction treatment options. In New Castle County, the number is 1-800-652-2929. In Kent and Sussex counties, the number is 1-800-345-6785.

“As a physician, I have seen the toll that addiction takes on individuals and their families, and I have personally seen the effects of dangerous combinations with fentanyl, heroin and cocaine,” Secretary Walker said. “Even one use of an illicit drug can be lead to overdose and death, but the added presence of fentanyl dramatically increases those risks. We hope that those affected will talk with a provider to help individuals get connected to treatment for this disease.”

Drug dealers sell fentanyl in a variety of ways, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Dealers sell pure fentanyl in white powder form to users who assume they are buying heroin. They lace fentanyl with cocaine or heroin. And they press fentanyl into pills and pass them off as OxyContin.

“Too many times, our police officers and other first responders see first-hand the dangers of fentanyl-related overdoses,” Department of Safety and Homeland Security (DSHS) Secretary Robert Coupe said. “That’s why we encourage anyone who is using or suffering from addiction to call for help or to ask a police officer, a medical professional or another first responder for help. Our first priority is to save lives.”

Individuals and families can visit DHSS’ website, www.HelpIsHereDE.com, for addiction treatment and recovery services in Delaware and nearby states. If individuals see someone overdosing, they should call 911. Under Delaware’s 911/Good Samaritan Law, people who call 911 to report an overdose and the person in medical distress cannot be arrested for low-level drug crimes.
“AtTAcK addiction continues to work with the Division of Public Health so that a standing order is instituted allowing the life-saving medication, naloxone, to be purchased in pharmacies throughout Delaware after the consumer undergoes a brief training,” atTAcK addiction board member Dave Humes said. “We are hoping to see expansion and approval of newer manufacturers of the medication. This will help combat price increases. We now have close to half of all Delaware departments of peace officers trained and carrying naloxone, including the Delaware State Police, resulting in more lives saved. We must find a better way to inform those people still in active use of the dangers that fentanyl poses not only to their health, but also to their life, and the impact their substance use disorder has on their loved ones.”
Of the 120 fentanyl-related overdose deaths in 2016, the Division of Forensic Science reported 68 deaths (57 percent) occurred in New Castle County, with 36 deaths (30 percent) in Sussex County and 16 deaths (13 percent) in Kent County.

Ninety-six of the 120 fentanyl-related overdose deaths (80 percent) involved men. The ages ranged from 17 to 64, with 71 of the 120 deaths (59 percent) involving individuals in their 30s and 40s, and the average age slightly above 38.

In 2015, a total of 228 people died from overdoses in Delaware, with 222 overdose deaths reported in 2014, according to the Division of Forensic Science. Nationwide, the CDC reported 47,055 people died from drug overdoses in 2014, or 1.5 times greater than the number killed in car crashes.

When a user ingests fentanyl or a drug laced with fentanyl, it affects the central nervous system and brain. Because it is such a powerful opioid, users often have trouble breathing or can stop breathing as the drug sedates them. If someone is too drowsy to answer questions, is having difficulty breathing, or appears to be so asleep they cannot be awakened, call 911 immediately. Naloxone, the overdose-reversing medication carried in Delaware by community members, paramedics and some police officers, can be administered in overdoses involving fentanyl. Because fentanyl is more potent than heroin or opioid painkillers, multiple doses of naloxone may be needed to reverse an overdose. In 2016, Delaware paramedics and police officers administered naloxone 2,334 times in suspected overdose situations.
“We know that 80 percent of people who are addicted to opioids started with prescription painkillers,” said Division of Public Health Director Dr. Karyl Rattay. “The safest course is to avoid prescription painkillers altogether or to use them at the lowest possible dose for the shortest period of time. Opioids become less effective over time so people may feel compelled to take higher doses to get the same results or even seek out illegal sources such as heroin. For those in the throes of addiction, please seek help through your primary care doctor, another medical professional or directly through an addiction treatment center. Addiction can be treated and people do live fulfilling lives in long-term recovery.”

In the spring, the Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) will initiate a community outreach campaign in support of its www.HelpIsHereDE.com website. The campaign will include the unveiling of the revamped website, making it easier to navigate and find information, and new resources and materials on addiction prevention, treatment, and recovery. In addition, DHSS will develop materials for medical providers on prescribing pain medications and information on how to screen patients and connect them with addiction treatment resources, as well as materials on preventing substance exposure in infants.

-30-

For more information, contact:
Jill Fredel, Department of Health and Social Services, (302) 255-9047 (office) or (302) 357-7498 (cell)
Wendy Hudson, Department of Safety and Homeland Security, (302) 744-2680 (office)

 

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.


Delaware Overdose Deaths Involving Fentanyl Double in Less Than a Year

NEWS FROM THE DELAWARE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND SOCIAL SERVICES AND THE DELAWARE DEPARTMENT OF SAFETY AND HOMELAND SECURITY

 

 

Delaware Overdose Deaths Involving Fentanyl Double in Less Than a Year; Health and Law Enforcement Officials Urge Active Users to Seek Treatment

NEW CASTLE (Dec. 9, 2016) – Through September, Delaware’s overdose deaths involving fentanyl have more than doubled over 2015, with an increasingly higher percentage of the alarming uptick occurring in Kent and Sussex counties and a slight increase among people in their 30s and 40s. Through September, toxicology analysis by the Division of Forensic Science has confirmed 90 people have died from overdoses that involved fentanyl, a synthetic painkiller that is up to 50 times more potent than heroin. In all of 2015, there were 42 overdose deaths involving fentanyl in Delaware.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported synthetic opioids were responsible for the largest increase in overdose deaths in the U.S. from 2013 to 2014, when the rate nearly doubled from 1 death per 100,000 people to 1.8 deaths. In Delaware, the number of fentanyl-related deaths soared by 180 percent from 15 deaths in 2012 to 42 deaths in 2015. So far in 2016, fentanyl-related deaths in Delaware have increased 114 percent over 2015.

Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) Secretary Rita Landgraf urged individuals in active substance use to call DHSS’ 24/7 Crisis Services Helpline to be connected to addiction treatment options. In New Castle County, the number is 1-800-652-2929. In Kent and Sussex counties, the number is 1-800-345-6785.

“The dramatic increase in overdose deaths related to fentanyl is heartbreaking,” Secretary Landgraf said. “We urge people to seek treatment for addiction rather than face an increasing risk of death from an overdose of fentanyl, heroin, cocaine or some combination of drugs,” she said. “One use of any drug can be deadly, but with fentanyl, the risk too often is tragically greater. For individuals suffering from addiction or families worried about a loved one, my department can connect people to treatment. While relapse is part of this disease, we also know that treatment does work and people do recover.”

Drug dealers sell fentanyl in a variety of ways, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Dealers sell pure fentanyl in white powder form to users who assume they are buying heroin. They lace fentanyl with cocaine or heroin. And they press fentanyl into pills and pass them off as OxyContin. Toxicology analysis by the Division of Forensic Science found 17 of the 42 cases since May also tested positive for heroin. Another 16 of the 42 cases also tested positive for cocaine.

“We encourage anyone who is using or with an addiction issue to call for help or to ask a police officer, a medical professional or another first responder for help,” Department of Safety and Homeland Security (DSHS) Secretary James Mosley said. “The fentanyl on our streets is so toxic that it greatly decreases the chance of survival.”

Individuals and families can visit DHSS’ website, www.HelpIsHereDE.com, for addiction treatment and recovery services in Delaware and nearby states. If individuals see someone overdosing, they should call 911. Under Delaware’s 911/Good Samaritan Law, people who call 911 to report an overdose cannot be prosecuted for low-level drug crimes.

“As atTAcK addiction looks to change the approach to substance use disorder we have been able to increase the number of community members that have access to the life-saving medication naloxone,” atTAcK addiction board member Dave Humes said. “We have continued to work with the Division of Public Health and the Department of Justice in making sure more police departments are trained and carrying naloxone. While first responders do an excellent job when dispatched by the 911 centers, oftentimes it is police who are the first on the scene. When an overdose occurs, time is of the essence in order to save the life. There have been documented instances where police officers had suffered ill-effects from merely handling fentanyl. Having naloxone has become a matter of safety and protection for the police officers.”

The Division of Forensic Science, which confirms the presence of fentanyl through toxicology analysis, reported 42 overdose deaths involving fentanyl occurring between June 3 and Sept. 25 of this year. During that period, 17 deaths (40.5 percent) occurred in New Castle County, with an increasing share in Sussex (15 deaths or 35.7 percent) and Kent (10 deaths or 23.8 percent). In January through May, 58.3 percent of the deaths happened in New Castle County.

Thirty-four of the 42 fentanyl-related overdose deaths from June through September involved men. The ages ranged from 21 to 61, with 26 of the 42 deaths (62 percent) involving individuals in their 30s and 40s, a slight uptick in age from the January through May period when two-thirds (32 of the 48 deaths) were among those in their 20s and 30s.

Details about the 90 fentanyl-related overdose deaths include:

• 45 deaths (50 percent) happened in New Castle County; 30 (33.3 percent) in Sussex; and 15 (16.7 percent) in Kent.
• 76 (84.4 percent) of those who died were men; 14 were women.
• 76 (84.4 percent) of the decedents were white; 11 (12.2 percent) were African-American; two were Hispanic; and one person was Asian.
• 56 of those who died (62.2 percent) were in their 20s and 30s; 17 (18.9 percent) were in their 40s; 15 in their 50s (16.6 percent); and one each in their teens or 60s.

Last year, a total of 228 people died from overdoses in Delaware, with 222 overdose deaths reported in 2014, according to the Division of Forensic Science. Nationwide, the CDC reported 47,055 people died from drug overdoses in 2014, or 1.5 times greater than the number killed in car crashes.

In 2014, Delaware ranked ninth nationwide, with an overdose rate of 20.9 deaths per 100,000 people. Among nearby states, Pennsylvania ranked eighth at 21.9 deaths per 100,000, Maryland was 18th (17.4 deaths per 100,000) and New Jersey was 26th (14 deaths per 100,000). The U.S. average rate was 14.7 deaths per 100,000.

“Sadly, the Delaware Valley has long suffered from episodes of overdoses due to use of heroin and prescription opiates, but never at the rate we see occurring now,” said Jeremiah Daley, director of the Philadelphia-Camden High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA), which includes New Castle County. “While it is dangerous to consume any opioid without medical necessity and supervision, the introduction of fentanyl, fentanyl analogues or other synthetic opioids into the illegal drug marketplace greatly increases the risk of an overdose episode and death. Because of the ability for these substances to be accidentally absorbed through the skin, inhaled, or otherwise ingested, they also present great risk to persons who may inadvertently and unknowingly come into contact with them, including first responders and caregivers of active users. Precautions should be taken to properly protect oneself and others from accidental exposure. Persons who observe someone with symptoms of an overdose – a person in respiratory distress, semi-consciousness, unconsciousness, or having bluish color to their skin, nose or under the fingernails – should immediately call 911, and, if available, consider administering naloxone.”

When a user ingests fentanyl or a drug laced with fentanyl, it affects the central nervous system and brain. Because it is such a powerful opiate, users often have trouble breathing or can stop breathing as the drug sedates them. If someone is too drowsy to answer questions, is having difficulty breathing, or appears to be so asleep they cannot be awakened, call 911 immediately. Naloxone, the overdose-reversing medication carried in Delaware by community members, paramedics and some police officers, can be administered in overdoses involving fentanyl. Because fentanyl is more potent than heroin or opioid painkillers, multiple doses of naloxone may be needed to reverse an overdose. Through June of this year, naloxone has been administered 1,070 times by paramedics or police officers in suspected overdose situations.

“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that one in four people who are on opioids long term struggle with addiction,” said Division of Public Health Director Dr. Karyl Rattay. “Opioids also become less effective over time so people may feel compelled to take higher doses to get the same result or even seek out illegal sources such as heroin. The safest course is to avoid prescription painkillers altogether or to use them at the lowest possible dose for the shortest period of time. Addiction is a disease and opioids – even in cases where they appear to be appropriately prescribed – can be a trigger.”

In 2017, the Department of Health and Social Services will carry out a community outreach campaign in support of its http://www.HelpIsHereDE.com website, including new resources, information and materials for medical providers and the general community about the risks associated with prescription painkillers and safer strategies for managing chronic pain.

 

For more information, contact:
Jill Fredel, Department of Health and Social Services, (302) 255-9047 (office) or (302) 357-7498 (cell).
Wendy Hudson, Department of Safety and Homeland Security, (302) 744-2680 (office)

 

-30-

 

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.