DHSS Partners with Google, Partnership for Drug-Free Kids to Bring Online Resources to Delaware Families

WILMINGTON (Nov. 21, 2019) – The Delaware Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS), Partnership for Drug-Free Kids and Google have launched a first-in-the-nation partnership to bring needed resources to Delaware families looking for help online for a loved one struggling with substance use disorder.

DHSS will work with Partnership and Google to identify communication strategies aimed at increasing online awareness of available treatment and recovery services for Delaware families. These strategies are designed to connect individuals struggling with behavioral health issues and their families to resources as quickly as possible and, in many cases, to do so in real-time.

“Helping families find that connection to care for their loved ones when they need it most is one of the most important things we can do in state government,” Delaware Governor John Carney said. “I am grateful to the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids and Google for their collaboration to serve families in need across our state.”

“We’re honored to support the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids and DHSS in their work supporting Delaware families impacted by substance abuse,” said Google Director Adam Barea. “We hope this pilot will help more families have access to quality online resources and put more Delawareans on the path to recovery.”

“We are honored to be working with the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services and Google to help those struggling with substance use in Delaware,” said Fred Muench, president of Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, which recently merged with Center on Addiction. “We know that families in Delaware are using Google to search for help for their loved ones and we are proud to be part of an effort to get them the credible information and support that they need.”

In 2018, the number of Delawareans using Google to search for information on substance use ranked in the top 10 of all U.S. states. Additionally, Delaware ranks first in the U.S. for Google searches of methadone, a medication used to help people suffering from opioid use disorder to stave off withdrawal and cravings.

The launch comes just before the holiday season, which can be a particularly difficult time for individuals and their families struggling with addiction. Because of the added pressure of family gatherings, substance use often escalates, relapses occur, and many states, including Delaware, often see a spike in overdoses and overdose deaths.

Google will provide $500,000 to the Partnership as well as in-kind technical assistance to the Department of Health and Social Services’ Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health (DSAMH). The technical assistance will help connect Delawareans with quality resources for those suffering from substance use disorder as well as for their caregivers – such as the Partnership’s helpline. It also includes the production of a series of videos featuring testimonials from Delawareans impacted by the addiction epidemic.

“Every day, we see the horrible toll that the opioid epidemic takes on Delaware families and families across the country,” said DHSS Secretary Dr. Kara Odom Walker, a practicing family physician. “This new collaboration with the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids and Google will bring critical online resources to Delaware families when the need is most urgent. When someone is ready to begin treatment, that connection to care is one of the most important moments in the journey to recovery.”

A Wilmington father, whose son is now in recovery, knows how difficult it can be to make that connection. “In addition to having 19 years of sobriety, for 25 years I have helped hospitals and providers develop better patient engagement and improved outcomes through health care technology,” said Mike Lang of Wilmington. “If anyone was equipped to navigate the complexities of today’s health care, it was me. I learned just how difficult it was to navigate our health care system during a family crisis when my son overdosed. This initial crisis marked the beginning of a three-year recovery journey.”

In 2017, Delaware ranked sixth in the nation in drug overdose death rates, with most of those 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. Nearly three in four of those deaths involved fentanyl. The state is on pace to lose a similar number of lives to overdose in 2019.

To be connected to treatment and recovery resources in Delaware or nearby states, individuals and families also can visit DHSS’ clearinghouse website for services, HelpIsHereDE.com.


DHSS Awarded $3.58 Million Federal Grant to Increase Addiction Treatment Capacity Among Medicaid Providers

NEW CASTLE (Sept. 26, 2019) – The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) recently awarded the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services a $3.58 million planning grant to increase the treatment capacity of Medicaid providers to deliver substance use disorder treatment and recovery services to Delawareans in need.

Delaware was one of 15 states to receive the 18-month planning grants to increase addiction-related services through:

• An ongoing assessment of the SUD treatment needs of the state.
• Recruitment, training and technical assistance for Medicaid providers who offer SUD treatment or recovering services.
• Improved reimbursement for and expansion of the number or treatment capacity of Medicaid providers.

“We are grateful to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for providing this technical assistance to Delaware during the ongoing opioid crisis,” Gov. John Carney said. “We also appreciate the members of our congressional delegation supporting this critical work to increase our treatment capacity of Medicaid providers statewide.”

Counseling is an important component of treatment for addiction.

“With one in every four Delawareans being a Medicaid recipient, the need for treatment and recovery support is critical to stem this epidemic,” said Lt. Gov. Bethany Hall-Long. “The Behavioral Health Consortium is pleased we have our congressional delegation partnering with us to get more boots on the ground to save lives and expand care.”

“As our country continues to grapple with a deadly opioid epidemic, it is critical that we continue working to ensure that all those suffering from addiction have access to the life-saving treatment they need,” U.S. Sen. Tom Carper said. “By providing additional training and resources to Medicaid providers for substance use disorder treatment, we can help ensure that more Delawareans, regardless of their means or what community they live in, receive high-quality care.”

“As opioid-related deaths reach epidemic levels in Delaware and across the country, we need an all-hands-on-deck approach to stop this crisis. Already this year, we’ve lost over 200 Delawareans to suspected overdose deaths,” Sen. Chris Coons said. “This grant will allow the Department of Health and Social Services, along with Medicaid providers throughout the state, to focus on keeping our communities safe and bolstering our substance abuse treatment workforce.”

“Expanding treatment capacity and increasing resources to Medicaid providers is one of the most effective ways to combat the opioid epidemic in Delaware,” said U.S. Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester. “These resources from CMS will be crucial in continuing to improve our addiction treatment and ultimately, save lives.”

The Medicaid planning grant helps to meet priorities for Delaware’s treatment system outlined in 2018 recommendations from researchers and clinicians at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. In April 2017, DHSS Secretary Dr. Kara Odom Walker had asked Johns Hopkins to conduct a review of Delaware’s addiction treatment system. In July 2018, the Johns Hopkins team issued a 33-page report that proposed four main strategies:

• Increase the capacity of the treatment system.
• Engage high-risk populations in treatment.
• Create incentives for quality care.
• Use data to guide reform and monitor progress.

“Across our country, Medicaid is the largest payer of addiction treatment services,” Secretary Walker said. “In Delaware, this planning grant will help us increase the capacity for Medicaid-provided treatment and recovery services for vulnerable people who are suffering from this chronic and complex brain disease.”

Dr. Elizabeth Brown, Medical Director for the Division of Medicaid and Medical Assistance, said the funding will be used for data analysis, a rate review and reimbursement redesign, expanding the provider pool, and stakeholder engagement.

If you or a loved one is struggling with substance use disorder, please call DHSS’ 24/7 Crisis Services Helpline to be connected to trained crisis professionals who can discuss treatment options. In New Castle County, call 1-800-652-2929. In Kent and Sussex counties, call 1-800-345-6785. Individuals and families also can visit DHSS’ website, www.HelpIsHereDE.com, to find addiction treatment and recovery services in Delaware and nearby states.

As of Sept. 24, the Division of Forensic Science has reported a total of 209 suspected overdose deaths in Delaware this year. There is always a lag in terms of both toxicology analyses and death determinations. In 2018, there were 400 overdose deaths across the state, an increase of 16 percent from the 2017 total of 345 deaths.

-30-

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.


Treatment Access Center (TASC) in Wilmington to Host Sept. 20 Recovery Month Celebration

2019 Recovery MonthEvent includes recovery walk, treatment information, live performances and recovery stories

WILMINGTON (Sept. 19, 2019) –The Treatment Access Center (TASC), the primary liaison between the Department of Health and Social Services’ Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health (DSAMH) and the criminal justice system, will host its first event celebrating Recovery Month.

Celebrating its 30th anniversary, Recovery Month promotes and supports new evidence-based treatment and recovery practices, the strong and proud recovery community, and the dedication of service providers and community members across the nation who make recovery in all its forms possible.

The TASC Recovery Month Celebration will feature a recovery walk, food, live music, live spoken word performances, shared recovery stories. The event also will host treatment providers with information on their programs and services. The event is free and open to the public.

  • What: TASC Recovery Month Celebration
  • Who: TASC Staff & Clients DSAMH Staff Behavioral Health Providers Performers Public
  • When: Friday, Sept. 20 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Recovery Walk begins at 10 a.m.
  • Where: Treatment Access Center – Wilmington Facility – Parking Lot 801 S. Harrison St. Wilmington

For more information on TASC please visit: https://dhss.delaware.gov/dhss/dsamh/tasc.html

For more information on National Recovery Month please visit: https://recoverymonth.gov/

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction in Delaware, call DSAMH’s Crisis Hotline to talk to a trained professional about treatment and recovery options. In New Castle County, call 1-800-652-2929. In Kent or Sussex counties, call 1-800-345-6785. Or visit www.HelpIsHereDE.com to find treatment services and resources in Delaware or nearby states.


DPH Releases First Drug Overdose Mortality Surveillance Report

WILMINGTON  – For the first time, the Delaware Division of Public Health (DPH) through the integration of 12 multi-agency datasets, has developed a demographic picture of the Delawareans who died from drug overdoses in 2017. DPH released the Drug Overdose Mortality Surveillance Report, Delaware, 2017, in Wilmington on Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2019.

In addition to providing an overview of drug overdose mortality trends, the report provides an in-depth look of the individuals who died of drug overdoses in Delaware in 2017. The report addresses the types of drugs used; if, how, and when the decedents interacted with Delaware health systems; and a description of key statewide efforts to address the drug overdose and substance use crisis. Health system interactions include: Emergency Department (ED) visits; Emergency Medical Services (EMS) encounters; prescriptions in the Prescription Monitoring Program (PMP); treatment through the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services’ (DHSS) Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health (DSAMH) contractors; and hospital discharges. Expanded analysis of health system interactions includes data on Department of Correction (DOC) interactions and Medicaid eligibility and claims.

“Too many Delaware families are impacted by the opioid crisis,” said Governor John Carney. “We are working across agencies to address this epidemic, and the data from this report will help us make informed decisions that guide us in developing effective interventions — with the ultimate goal of saving more lives.”

The Drug Overdose Mortality report followed one of the recommendations in the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health’s July 2018 report, “A Blueprint for Transforming Opioid Use Disorder Treatment in Delaware.” The Hopkins team recommended that Delaware use data to guide and monitor progress by linking multi-agency data to more fully understand individuals with substance use disorders and their utilization of Delaware’s systems.

Key Findings:
Of the 346 Delaware residents who died of a drug overdose in 2017, DPH identified 343 for the report’s study population. Overall, drug overdose decedents were primarily males (67%), between the ages of 25 and 54 years (76%), non-Hispanic white (79%), never married (59%), and had a high school diploma or General Educational Development (GED) (55%).

The top two occupational industries among males who died of drug overdoses were construction (36%) and the install, maintain, and repair industry (9.1%; includes mechanics, HVAC repair, engine repair, maintenance, and other occupations). The top two occupational industries among females were food service (14.7%) and office support (12.8%); however, 33% were not employed.

Opioids, a class of drugs that includes heroin, fentanyl, oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine, and others, accounted for the majority of drug overdose deaths (84%). Synthetic opioids other than methadone (e.g. fentanyl, tramadol, etc.) were responsible for the highest mortality rates among opioid drug overdose deaths (age-adjusted rate: 21.9 deaths per 100,000 population).

Eighty-one percent, or four out of five, persons who died of a drug overdose in 2017 interacted with a Delaware health system in the year prior to their deaths.

State officials say quantifying this information is critical as it helps those addressing the drug epidemic in Delaware to identify critical moments to engage those with substance use disorder (SUD) into treatment.

“I am thrilled that so many state agencies were able to pull together and provide critical data related to behavioral health for this report,” said Lieutenant Governor Bethany Hall-Long, who chairs Delaware’s Behavioral Health Consortium. “This was one of the BHC’s goals and the results will allow us to focus our efforts, reduce stigma around the disease of addiction and save lives.”

“There is no question that we have more work to do up and down our state to reduce the toll that the opioid epidemic has taken on thousands of people in our state and their families,” said DHSS Secretary Dr. Kara Odom Walker, a practicing family physician. “But now we have more data to inform our path forward and to help us identify critical touchpoints where intervention can make a difference.”

A deeper look at the drug overdose decedents’ health system interactions shows:

ED: One in two drug overdose decedents (54.2%) visited a Delaware ED in the year prior to their death and 70% visited the ED within two years prior to their death. Not all visits in the year prior to death were related to the decedents’ drug use. In the year prior to their death, 23% of drug overdose decedents who had visited the ED had mental-health related diagnoses, 10 percent of decedents had a previous drug overdose ED visit, and 6.7% had a pain diagnosis related to their ED visit. Drug overdose and pain diagnoses were more often recorded among females than males.

EMS: Nearly half of decedents (43.1%) had a history of an EMS encounter not related to the death event in the year before their death. Twenty-three (6.7%) drug overdose decedents had an EMS encounter for a non-fatal drug overdose. Naloxone was administered to 39.1% of those decedents with a non-fatal overdose EMS encounter.

PMP: Among drug overdose decedents, 164 (47.8%) had a prescription in the PMP in the year prior to death. Nearly one in four Delaware drug overdose decedents (23.6%) had a prescription for an opioid such as oxycodone, codeine or morphine in the PMP in the year prior to their death. Twenty-two percent had a prescription for a benzodiazepine (often used to treat seizures or anxiety). Twelve percent of decedents had prescriptions for both in the PMP in the year prior to their deaths – but the prescriptions did not necessarily overlap.

DOC: One in four opioid drug overdose decedents (25%) were released from incarceration within one year prior to death. There were 103 drug overdose decedents (30%) who were on probation and parole in the year that preceded their deaths; 76 (22.2%) of decedents were on probation and parole at the time of death. Nearly half of the 343 drug overdose decedents (45.8%) had a record of a misdemeanor, 32.7% had a record of a felony, 25.4% violated parole, and just 20.4% had drug-related offenses.

DSAMH: Within the year prior to death, one in four decedents (26.8%) received DSAMH services. Approximately 10% of decedents were receiving services from DSAMH at the time of death. Of decedents who had received services from DSAMH, 25.3% were considered homeless.

Hospitalizations: Approximately 12% of drug overdose decedents were hospitalized in the year prior to their deaths. Nearly 10% of drug overdose decedents were hospitalized with a diagnosis of a mental, behavioral, or neurodevelopmental disorder.

“Another key facet of this report is that through this historical look at data, we were able to determine that as a state we were on the right track with many of our current and ongoing initiatives,” said DPH Director Dr. Karyl Rattay, who presented the report’s key findings. “It will help us continue to focus our efforts and allow us to move forward in a thoughtful and meaningful way.”

In the section on Addressing the Health Crisis, the report describes how Delaware is doing so through a comprehensive and multipronged approach including: (1) prevention; (2) treatment; (3) harm reduction; (4) criminal justice; and (5) epidemiology, data, and surveillance. The section discusses the state’s efforts to engage emergency department physicians, prescribers, and EMS personnel. It also provides information on the expansion of treatment facilities and processes, and the utilization of naloxone by not only first responders but also Corrections staff and the community to save lives.

“This report provides crucial information to help us identify gaps in our treatment system,” said Elizabeth Romero, director of the Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health. “It also confirms that the efforts we have made under the START Initiative are moving our system of care in the right direction.”

Delaware currently ranks fifth-highest among drug overdose mortality rates in the nation.

To view the full 2017 Drug Overdose Mortality Surveillance Report, visit https://www.dhss.delaware.gov/dhss/dph/files/dedrugoverdosemortsurvrpt2017.pdf.
Those seeking substance use or mental health resources are encouraged to visit www.HelpisHereDe.com or call the 24/7 Crisis Services Hotline. In New Castle, call 1-800-652-2929. In Kent and Sussex counties, call 1-800-345-6785.

*Data note: There may be slight differences in the drug overdose mortality data reported by the Delaware Division of Public Health (DPH) compared to the data reported by the Delaware Division of Forensic Science (DFS). DHSS utilizes data from DFS to communicate preliminary annual drug overdose death totals based on information from the Delaware Medical Examiner’s Office. These data are considered preliminary until the final statistical death file is closed by the Delaware Health Statistics Center within DPH.

 

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 http://delawarerelay.com.

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.


Sussex County Bridge Clinic to Help Individuals, Families Impacted by Mental Illness, Opioid Use Disorder

NEW CASTLE (July 11, 2019) – As a new support for individuals and families impacted by the effects of mental health and substance use issues, the Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health (DSAMH) officially will open the Sussex County Bridge Clinic on July 15 at the Promise Access Center in Georgetown, providing screening and referrals to treatment, as well as additional services. The Sussex County clinic joins a similar clinic in New Castle County, which opened in March near New Castle.

The Sussex County Bridge Clinic, which is open from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, is available to all Delaware residents at the Thurman Adams State Service Center, 546 S. Bedford St., Georgetown. The clinic’s services, which do not require an appointment, include:

  • Screening and referrals to treatment.
  • Evaluations conducted by qualified, licensed clinicians.
  • Guidance navigating the care network.
  • Training for administering naloxone, an overdose-reversal medication.
  • Transportation to and from the facility may be available.
  • All services made available regardless of ability to pay.

“In opening this Sussex County Bridge Clinic, we are providing rapid access to qualified clinicians who can help individuals and their families to understand what type of treatment is needed for loved ones and how to engage with the treatment system,” said Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) Secretary Dr. Kara Odom Walker, a practicing family physician. “For too many Delaware families in the throes of a behavioral health crisis, they can be overwhelmed simply by trying to navigate the system. The Bridge Clinic provides an in-person starting point.”

Secretary Walker said the opening of the new clinic helps to engage high-risk populations in treatment, one of four main recommendations from a team of researchers and clinicians at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. In April 2017, Secretary Walker asked Johns Hopkins to conduct a review of Delaware’s addiction treatment system. In July 2018, the Johns Hopkins team issued a 33-page report that proposed four main strategies:

  • Increase the capacity of the treatment system.
  • Engage high-risk populations in treatment.
  • Create incentives for quality care.
  • Use data to guide reform and monitor progress.

“Our bridge team leads with care and commitment,” said DSAMH Director Elizabeth Romero. “Persistence is a core principle, and they will never give up helping a client along their journey to recovery.”

For more information, call the Sussex County Bridge Clinic at 302-515-3310.

To reach the New Castle County Bridge Clinic at 14 Central Ave., New Castle (just off U.S. 13), call 302-255-1650.