Fentanyl-Laced Heroin Epidemic A Growing Concern In DE - 47 ABC - Delmarva's Choice

Fentanyl-Laced Heroin Epidemic A Growing Concern In DE

Posted: Updated:

DELAWARE - A deadly street drug, mixed with a potent painkiller, resulted in eleven recent overdose deaths in Delaware, according to the state Medical Examiner's Office.

In Sussex County alone, there were reportedly four deaths since April.

It's called fentanyl-laced heroin; a combination of powerful, synthetic painkiller, which is similar but more potent than morphine, mixed with heroin, and apparently it's not new to Delaware. The state reportedly had a rash of deaths back in the mid-to-late 90's, and at least six deaths in 2006.

"It's a nationwide epidemic and a big problem in Delaware," says Richard Ruby, executive director of Addiction Medical Services in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. "One loss is one too many."

State health officials say the reason behind the epidemic is the recent crackdown on prescription pills.

"There's been a considerable amount of attention given to getting opiates off the street, we still have a long way to go but we've done a remarkable job of that," says Dr. Marc Richman with the Delaware Department of Health and Human Services Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health. "They're dependent on opioids and they are not available so what is available heroin, heroin is cheap, it's very accessible so people go from one to the other. People who have an addiction are going to find it."

One issue is that there is reportedly no way to tell the difference between heroin and the fentanyl-laced variety, which is much more deadly.

Now the state is focused on streamlining the treatment system, and getting those addicted into rehabilitation.

"We're working on just expanding our treatment resources to the best that we possibly can," says Dr. Richman.

One big plan is to open a second detox facility in Delaware by next fall. Another stride, new legislation that will increase access to the life-saving drug "naloxone."

"With proper training and education I think naloxone training is essential as we move forward and evolve as treatment evolves," says Ruby. "It basically has the ability to rip that medication completely off the receptor and bring them back in a relatively short time frame."

However, recognizing the addiction and getting the help is not an easy first step. A joint effort by police agencies to arrest those spreading heroin could be one way, but health officials still worry the drug problem will not end with heroin.

"There are still other drugs out there, meth is out there, PCP has increased," says Dr. Richman. "My biggest concern is everybody's big concern and that is when is the stem going to stop?"

For more information on Addiction Medical Services, visit their website. If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction in Kent or Sussex Counties, you can also call 800-345-6785.

Powered by WorldNow
Powered by WorldNow All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 WorldNow and WMDT. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.