Suspected OD deaths increase in Delaware
DOVER, Del. – In a release from the the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services the state has seen an increase in suspected overdose deaths in the past three months (November/December 2022, January 2023).
Since November (2022), the average monthly increase in of suspected overdose deaths has risen by 18.4%, and in January at least 53 people died from suspected overdoses, which is a 47% increase from that time the previous year.
In 2021 Delaware reported 515 confirmed overdose deaths, with more than 83% of those deaths involving the use of fentanyl.
According to the Department of Forensic Science, a vast majority of overdose deaths involve more than one substance.
Additionally agencies across Delaware have observed an increase in Xylazine both in state and in surrounding states.
Xylazine has been identified in overdose deaths in Delaware, and state police have confirmed that between October 2021 and January of 2023 Xylazine was present in 283 cases.
Kate Brookins, the Director for the Office of Health Crisis Response with the Delaware Division of Public Health tells 47ABC: “Xylazine is a veterinary drug that is a tranquilizer that is only approved for use in animals, not for humans at all.”
Xylazine is not an opioid and does not respond to Narcan. Kate Brookins tells us: “When there is Xylazine in the drug, it makes people very tired. They do not wake up easily even when administered Narcan for an overdose.”
But the risk of an overdose is not the only factor that is making drugs laced with Xylazine dangerous. The tranquilizer is so potent that is can cause someone who takes it to be unaware of their surroundings.
Kate Brookins explained an example to us: “If they are on their own and they are outside and it is cold outside, they may not die from an overdose. They may die from hypothermia. They are knocked out, and the Xylazine made them unaware they are freezing.”
To combat the increasing overdoses in Delaware the Division of Public Health is increasing its messaging around fentanyl. For information on treatment and recovery services in Delaware, or if you are interested in Fentanyl testing strips or Narcan, both can be found at HelpIsHereDE.com.