With six suspected overdose deaths statewide since May 29 and multiple overdoses within hours May 30 in New Castle County, the Department of Health and Social Services is encouraging Delawareans with addiction to reach out for a connection to treatment.
The suspected overdose deaths — one May 28, three May 29 and two May 31 — bring the total of suspected overdose deaths this year in Delaware to 94. In 2016, 308 people died of overdoses in Delaware, up 35 percent from the 228 total deaths in 2015, according to the Division of Forensic Science. Paramedics and the Delaware State Police also responded to a number of overdoses in New Castle County on May 30 in less than eight hours.
Department of Health and Social Services Secretary Kara Odom Walker, a family physician, urged people in active use or their families to call DHSS’ 24/7 Mobile Crisis Hotline to be connected to experienced crisis staff who can help them navigate the most appropriate treatment services. In New Castle County, call 800-652-2929. In Kent and Sussex counties, call 800-345-6785.
In response to the addiction epidemic, the general assembly has increased funding for the Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health to add capacity to the public treatment system statewide. The increased funding has been used to:
— Open a second withdrawal management clinic in November 2015 in Harrington, joining one in New Castle County, near Elsmere. Both locations now offer new and expanded withdrawal management services.
— Expand residential treatment beds from one location to four locations in February 2016, with new beds open in Smyrna for men; Dover, one location for men and one for women; and Delaware City for women, increasing total capacity by 22 percent. These beds are available for people who have received withdrawal management services and are in need of residential treatment to further their recoveries. The changes increased the total number of residential treatment beds from 78 to 95, with all beds having a variable length of stay.
— Increase residential treatment beds for young people ages 18-25, with 16 new beds expected to be online late this summer, bringing the total to 32 beds.
— Provide 16 beds for individuals with co-occurring disorders, mental illness and addiction.
— Double the number of recovery house beds statewide, with 120 beds now available to aid individuals in making the transition back to their communities.
— Expand outpatient treatment services statewide to include a full continuum of support.
— Open a second Recovery Response Center in Newark, joining an existing center in Ellendale.
Dave Humes, who lost his son, Greg, to an accidental overdose in 2012, is a board member of atTAcK addiction. The grassroots advocacy group has pushed for increased treatment services, ending the stigma associated with the chronic disease and the expanded use of naloxone, the overdose-reversing prescription medication.
Humes and five Delawareans are featured in short videos on DHSS’ redesigned HelpIsHereDE.com, a site for people seeking information and resources about addiction treatment, recovery or prevention.
In addition to supporting family members by using the resources on HelpIsHereDE.com, loved ones of those with addiction can get trained on the use of naloxone. For people in the community, naloxone is simple to administer, has proven to save lives and provides an opportunity for recovery to begin.
For information on community naloxone training classes in Delaware, visit bit.ly/2st59TJ.