The plan announced Thursday by the Attorney General will help curb the growing number of drug-related overdoses and deaths in the state.

A plan announced Thursday by the state Attorney General’s office will help advance efforts to curtail the growing problem of drug addiction and rise in deaths in the state.

Specifically, the plans calls for strengthening the regulations that govern the amount of care that health care providers must exercise in prescribing opiate drugs, conducting reviews of deaths caused by prescription opiate and/or heroin overdoses to determine what could have been done differently; maximizing the responsible use of medically assisted treatment of substance abuse disorder; and encouraging our state’s law enforcement community to expand the number of officers who carry naxolene, a drug that is effective in reversing the effect of heroin overdoses.

Naxolene has been used successfully in the New Castle, Middletown and Ocean View police departments to prevent overdoses.

Concerning the strengthening of regulations governing the prescription of opiate drugs, the Attorney general’s office noted that the Controlled Substance Advisory Committee has already drafted regulations and recommendations have been put forward to make them stronger before they are finalized.

Using various statistical measures from 2009 and 2010, the Attorney General’s office noted, “the Prescription Drug Advisory Committee found in 2013 that Delaware had the nation’s ninth highest drug overdose rate, had a significantly higher percentage of its residents engaging in non-medical use of prescription opioids than the national average, and had the nation’s fifth highest overall rate for opioid sales. Regarding illegal heroin use, the number of deaths in Delaware from heroin overdoses increased from 8 deaths in 2009 to 23 in 2013.”

“The catalysts behind many of the state’s efforts in the last several years to deal with substance use disorder have been the family members of Delawareans who suffered from drug overdoses – some of whom did not survive,” Attorney General Matt Denn said in the press release. “We owe it to them, and other families who have lost loved ones, to redouble our efforts.”

The plan announced Thursday is a positive step toward reverse the trend.