In Response to Addiction Epidemic, DHSS Seeks Proposals to Implement Centers of Excellence Model to Improve State’s Substance Use System of Care

NEW CASTLE (Feb. 15, 2018) – With a boost from $2 million in federal funding, the Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) is calling for proposals to implement a Centers of Excellence model to improve the substance use system of care serving all three counties as a way to engage and treat more than 900 new individuals during the first 12 months of operation.

The Request for Proposals is being sought by DHSS’ Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health (DSAMH) using $2 million in 21st Century Cures Act funding through the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Medicaid reimbursements and state general funds. Proposals are due by 11 a.m. March 9. The proposal calls for a Centers of Excellence model to improve the state’s substance use system of care in the wake of the addiction epidemic that continues to claim an increasing number of lives in Delaware and across the country.

In 2016, 308 people died from overdoses in Delaware, according to the Division of Forensic Science. For that same year, the Division of Public Health’s Office of Vital Statistics reported 264 substance-related overdose deaths in Delaware to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention based on slightly different reporting criteria. Preliminary overdose death totals for 2017 are expected sometime in March from the Division of Forensic Science.

“We must reduce the harm caused by this horrific epidemic,” said DHSS Secretary Dr. Kara Odom Walker, a board-certified family physician. “Through the Centers of Excellence model approach, our goal is to offer care to individuals suffering from opioid addiction that is high-quality, comprehensive, coordinated, evidence-based and person-centered. The treatment hubs will not only care for the individual’s treatment needs, but also address the social determinants of health that impact a patient’s overall health and treatment outcomes.”

The proposal calls for each of three treatment providers serving all three counties to engage and treat 300 new individuals with opioid use disorder in the first year of operation for a total of 900 patients. New patients are defined as individuals addicted to opioids who have not had services in the past 60 days.

In addition to helping patients to access medical and mental health care, the Centers of Excellence model will address the needs of individuals for housing, vocational opportunities, education and other wraparound services.

“We heard loud and clear from individuals, families and providers that we need to treat each person with an opioid use disorder as a whole person,” DSAMH Director Elizabeth Romero said. “A critical component of that is using certified recovery peers to help individuals navigate their way through both the treatment and the social services worlds. Relying on the advice of someone with a similar lived experience will help individuals suffering from addiction to better coordinate their services and maintain their engagement with treatment.”

The substance use system of care ensures 24/7 support through certified peer recovery specialists who will meet with acute care patients and hospital staff to discuss treatment needs and post-discharge services. Each center’s team will have multiple components to its model including a director, a community engagement and management team director (preferably a social worker) and peer recovery coaches. Once individuals are in treatment, peers will help patients to navigate and stay engaged in the health care system and to involve family members as appropriate to discuss treatment questions, issues, needs, options and preferences. Peers also will connect pregnant women to existing programs that provide home visiting and prenatal care.

Among the required services at each center:

• Comprehensive substance use disorder evaluation.
• Development of an individually tailored treatment plan.
• Case management.
• Medication-assisted treatment induction and maintenance, including the use of all three Food and Drug Administration-approved medications required – buprenorphine and vivitrol by the start of the program, and methadone within six months.
• Group and individual counseling.
• Links to recovery/transitional housing.
• Psychiatric evaluation/treatment to include trauma-informed principles.
• Co-management of behavioral and medical disorders.
• Motivational strategies to encourage individuals with opioid use disorder to stay engaged in their treatment plans.
• Prescription Monitoring Program (PMP) checks and fluid drug screens as required by DSAMH.

Romero said the proposal also requires the centers to track and report aggregate outcomes, including intake assessments, clinical progress and receipt of supplementary services, and to participate in a learning collaborative with the other centers and treatment partners as a way to educate partners on evidence-based practices and to improve the coordination of care. Romero said she expects the first Center of Excellence to open by the third quarter of 2018.

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.

Free DHSS Community Sessions on Addiction Treatment Services and Supports Available in Delaware

NEW CASTLE (Nov. 21, 2017) – Dozens of community partners will participate in a series of free addiction-related community sessions hosted by the Delaware Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health (DSAMH) as a way for people to talk with treatment experts, learn about local services and supports, and have access to a training class on how to use the overdose-reversing medication naloxone.

“We’ve heard from people across our state who say they aren’t always sure where and how to access treatment for their loved ones suffering from addiction,” Gov. John Carney said. “These sessions will give people the opportunity to talk face-to-face with providers and advocates from their communities, to ask questions and to figure out which options are best for their particular needs.”

All community sessions are from 2-7 p.m. The schedule:

  • Kent County: Thursday, Nov. 30, Delaware Technical Community College, Terry Campus, Corporate Training Center, 100 Campus Drive, Dover.
  • New Castle County: Wednesday, Dec. 6, West End Neighborhood House, 710 N. Lincoln St., Wilmington.
  • Sussex County: Thursday, Dec. 14, Delaware Technical Community College, Owens Campus, Carter Partnership Center, 21179 College Drive, Georgetown.

Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) Secretary Dr. Kara Odom Walker, a board-certified family physician, said the sessions also will give people in the community the opportunity to learn more about naloxone, the medication that can reverse opioid overdoses.

“It’s important for us to meet people where they are, and in this case, it’s in their communities,” Secretary Walker said. “By offering community naloxone training classes at these sessions, we can increase access to this life-saving medication. Saving a life from an overdose is our first priority, and from there, we can encourage people in active use to seek treatment as their next step toward recovery from this disease.”

Community Engagement Sessions
DSAMH Community Engagement sessions flier

A Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health trainer will lead the naloxone training sessions at each event.

In July, Governor Carney signed legislation providing for increased access to naloxone at pharmacies in Delaware. DHSS’ Division of Public Health (DPH) announced earlier this month that people now can buy naloxone at all 20 CVS Pharmacy locations statewide after they are educated on the appropriate use of the medication and sign an acknowledgment form.

In 2016, naloxone was administered 2,334 times by paramedics, police and other first responders to 1,535 individuals. In the first half of this year, the antidote was administered to 866 people in Delaware. 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.

Dr. Clarence Watson, acting director of the Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health, said the community engagement sessions are a good way to help families understand how to access addiction treatment for their loved ones. “We thought it was critical to have these sessions in each county as a way to personalize the connection to treatment,” he said.

Dr. Watson urged individuals in active substance use to see a medical provider immediately or call DHSS’ 24/7 Crisis Services Hotline to be connected to trained crisis professionals who can discuss treatment options. In Kent and Sussex counties, the number is 1-800-345-6785. In New Castle County, the number is 1-800-652-2929. Individuals and families also can visit DHSS’ website,, for addiction treatment and recovery services in Delaware and nearby states.

In 2016, 308 people died in Delaware from overdoses, up 35 percent from the 228 people who died in 2015.
For more information about the community engagement sessions, contact the Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health Training Office at 302-255-9480 or email


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.

DHSS Relaunches ‘Help Is Here’ Website with Accompanying Prevention, Treatment, and Recovery Support Campaign

NEW CASTLE – The Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) today launched an updated and significantly improved version of Delaware’s centralized online resource for addiction prevention, intervention, treatment and recovery information, The website is designed to assist people struggling with addiction, their families, the community, and medical providers.

The new version of “Help is Here” is easier to navigate, can be translated into four languages (Spanish, Haitian Creole, French, and Chinese), is more mobile-device friendly, and offers updated information for the community and medical providers. Its expanded video section features new and highly personal testimonials from individuals in long-term recovery, parents who have lost adult children to overdoses, a treatment provider, and a police officer.

Governor John Carney expressed his support for the website and for the role it can play in reducing the toll of addiction.

“Combating the addiction epidemic is a priority of my administration,” Governor Carney said. “Too many people are dying from this disease and too many families are suffering. As we work together to continue to build a system that better recognizes, prevents and treats addiction, Help is Here is a key tool.”

Delaware Lieutenant Governor Bethany Hall-Long, Division of Public Health (DPH) Director Dr. Karyl Rattay, and Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health (DSAMH) Director Michael Barbieri made the announcement, which included a reveal and demonstration of the updated site.

“Prevention and intervention are key to battling addiction in our state,” said Lt. Gov. Hall-Long. “This is particularly true when it comes to our children. Stress, trauma, early exposure to drugs in the teen years, and early symptoms of a mental disorder can lead to addiction and mental illness. Making parents aware of and connecting them to supportive information through the ‘Help Is Here’ website is vital to preventing years of struggle with substance use.”

Children who learn about the risks of drugs and alcohol from their parents are up to 50 percent less likely to use drugs than those who don’t get the information at home.

Delaware, like much of the country, is experiencing an addiction epidemic. In 2016, 308 people died from overdoses in Delaware, compared to 228 overdose deaths reported in 2015. Up to 80 percent of Delaware’s drug overdoses may involve one or more prescription drugs. According to the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), eight out of 10 new heroin users first abused prescription painkillers.

A key focus of the updated site is providing additional resources for physicians and other medical providers, such as information on the new regulations for the safe prescribing of opiates released this April by the Delaware Department of State’s Division of Professional Regulation (DPR). The regulations establish standards for prescribing opioids safely for pain management. Opioids can be a powerful tool if prescribed and used carefully, but should never be the first line of defense to treat chronic pain.

“Addiction is a chronic disease with a complicated set of causes. Our goal with the revised website is to increase awareness and supportive information across the community,” said DPH Director Dr. Karyl Rattay. “The website is the only one of its kind in the nation, one that seeks to address community needs and also provide guidance and information to medical providers. The refreshed site includes resources for DPR’s new regulations, and a helpful screening tool to aid providers in easily screening patients for substance use disorders as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”

In addition to sharing information about where to receive treatment, the state is also focused on building additional public treatment services. In February 2016, DSAMH opened new residential treatment beds at four locations in Smyrna, Dover and Delaware City, increasing capacity by 22 percent. These beds are available for both men and women who have received withdrawal management services and are in need of residential treatment to further their recoveries. These changes increased DSAMH’s total number of residential treatment beds from 78 to 95, with all beds having a variable length of stay.

A statewide expansion of residential treatment beds for youth age 18-25 is expected to be online in late summer. This expansion will increase beds from 16 to 32.

DSAMH has 16 beds for individuals suffering from significant co-occurring disorders (mental illness and addiction). And, to support residential recovery services, the state has 120 recovery house beds statewide to aid individuals in their local communities.

“Being in treatment for an addiction can be hard, but recovery is achievable,” said Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health Director Michael Barbieri. “Recovery is a journey with ups and downs. We want to provide a variety of treatment options to meet a person where they are and provide them with the level of care they need. There is no wrong door to enter to begin the recovery process.”

DHSS Secretary Dr. Kara Odom Walker also expressed her support for the greater outreach to the community through the website and accompanying media campaign.

“Addiction is a brain disease, not a character flaw,” said Secretary Walker, a family physician. “The first step toward recovery is seeking a treatment path that is right for the person in need. This website can help parents understand if a teen-age son or daughter is exhibiting signs of addiction and where to seek help if they are. And for those already in the throes of the disease, Help Is Here offers easy access to information about treatment and recovery services in Delaware and nearby states. The testimonial videos will help those impacted by this disease to understand they are not alone.” was first launched in October 2014.

To be connected to resources immediately, call the DHSS 24/7 Crisis Helpline at:

  • New Castle County: 800-652-2929
  • Kent and Sussex counties: 800-345-6785.

Help is Here will be updated throughout 2017, including information coming soon on how to prevent, recognize and treat substance exposure in infants, screen pregnant women for addiction and connect them to treatment sources, and significantly expand information for medical providers.

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.

Governor Announces Expansion of Addiction Treatment Services

Downstate detox center, increase in individualized treatment services, and informational website part of Statewide efforts

Wilmington, DE – Building on ongoing efforts to address the addiction epidemic in Delaware and the growing need of drug treatment services statewide, Governor Markell today unveiled efforts to expand addiction treatment services and support for Delawareans impacted by addiction.AddictionTreatmentPlan

“Across our state, too many of our neighbors and their family members are impacted by their loved one’s addiction to heroin, prescription drugs, alcohol or other substances,” said Governor Markell. “We must remain committed to opening the doors to addiction treatment because people deserve the opportunity to reach their full potential, free from the pain that addiction brings.”

Part of the efforts unveiled include establishing a new withdrawal management treatment center in Sussex County to serve individuals who live downstate. Currently, the State operates one detox center, NET Kirkwood Detoxification Center, in New Castle County. In addition, the State plans to offer more individualized treatment services at both locations through variable lengths of stay and increased supervision for those who require intense monitoring.

Funding for the new facility, which totals $950,000, is part of the $1 million that was approved by the General Assembly for FY15 to address gaps in the State’s drug treatment services after the Governor called for additional resources in his State of the State address. The other $50,000 of those funds will allow the Delaware Division of Public Health to work closely with Delaware school nurses to expand the “Smart Moves, Smart Choices” prescription drug abuse education and prevention campaign statewide.

“Above all else, we will achieve our greatest success if we can educate and prevent substance use among our young people,” said Governor Markell.AddictionTreatmentPlan

Recognizing the importance of education and prevention in addressing the addiction epidemic, the State also launched, an information website that puts an emphasis on prevention, treatment and recovery; and announced the launch of a public awareness campaign that will support the website and focus on reducing the stigma associated with addiction.

The Governor also expressed his gratitude to Members of the General Assembly, including Senators Margaret Rose Henry and Bethany Hall-Long, as well as Representatives Mike Barbieri, Helene Kelley and Michael Mulrooney, who have worked with the Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS), advocates, health care providers and other community leaders to help shape the state’s priorities to address addiction.

Photos from the event

President Declares Disaster For Delaware

(Washington, DC)  The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency announced that federal disaster aid has been made available to the State of Delaware to supplement state and local recovery efforts in the area affected by Tropical Storm Sandy during the period of October 27 to November 8, 2012.

The action by President Obama makes federal funding available to state, eligible local governments, and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency work and the repair or replacement of facilities damaged by Tropical Storm Sandy in Kent, New Castle, and Sussex Counties.

Federal funding is also available on a cost-sharing basis for hazard mitigation measures statewide.

Additional disaster damage designations may be made at a later date if requested by the State of Delaware and warranted by the results of further damage assessments.