Overdose deaths up in DE: Health officials urge action

DELAWARE – A first state study reveals some shocking statistics of overdose deaths increasing by 15 percent in Delaware in 2021.
Specifically, fentanyl has been in more than 80 percent of those deaths. Health officials say that the COVID-19 pandemic played a role in that increase.

“So as many 13 people know Delaware is second in the nation for overdose deaths, so we’re seeing that Fentanyl is being laced in with many illicit substances,” says Stacy Simon the Director of Integrative Care with CORAS.

Overdose death rates continue to increase in the first state and Rick Urey, the Chief of Addiction and Transition services with SAMHSA says many age groups are affected.

“It used to be 18-25 but it moved up a little bit now, it’s 25-32, that age range. There were approximately 160 something deaths with cocaine that had Fentanyl that cause a fatal overdose,” says Urey.

First state health organizations including CORAS Wellness and Behavioral Health say these deaths follow the COVID-19 pandemic, which played a major role in the increase.

“We’ve had residents and clients that have had a substantial amount of clean time and during COVID when they were isolated and unable to meet face to face in individual sessions or meet with their friends and community support groups they definitely had a higher rate of a relapse happening during that time,” says Simon.

But first state health experts also say – it’s important to address the negative association surrounding addiction.

“We’re really trying to attack the stigma associated with opioid use disorder and help people to understand that anyone can fall victim to addiction and there are resources out there, treatment is available, and medication is the number one tool to get and stay well,” says Joanna Champney, the Director of Delaware Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health.

And CORAS backs that up by providing Wellness & Behavioral Health services to those who are suffering.

“We make it our mission to make sure we are educating not only our clients but the staff and the community about the risk of overdose, how to identify an overdose – and how to administer Narcan in case of an overdose,” Simon adds.

The Delaware Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health of DHSS has also made efforts to allow easier access to more primary care providers in the first state. They also have created a mobile component to better support rural areas. To find out more information about CORAS resources you can visit their website.

Categories: Check It Out, Delaware, Health, Local News, Opioid Crisis