Delaware Public Media

Delaware now at 133 overdose-related deaths for 2017

Aug 9, 2017

Six more people died from suspected overdoses in the First State over the past five days, bringing the total to 133 for this year.

 

According to the Department of Health and Social Services, Delaware saw four overdose deaths over the weekend, one on Monday and one Tuesday. The growing number is making health officials rethink their strategies. 

 

 

Jill Fredel, a spokeswoman for the DHSS, said all five (not including the one Monday night) were suspected to be opioid-related, but the Division of Forensic Science can’t confirm that until it gets results from toxicology screens.

That can take six to eight weeks, Fredel said.

 

State lawmakers gave the Department of Health and Social Services $1 million this year to continue to fight addiction in Delaware. 

 

Dr. Kara Odom Walker, the secretary of the DHSS, said they’re planning to use that money to increase access to treatment. 

 

“Having that additional funding will help us better create a system of treatment and wrap-around services for additional services dealing with substance abuse,” Walker said.

 

But they were already working on strategies before they got that money. In May, the health department put a live count of overdose deaths in the state on its website. Walker said it’s basically a living memorial, and shows that overdose deaths affect the lives of hundreds of people and many more close to them.

 

“When you hear the stories of families, coworkers, that have experienced the loss of someone that they care for deeply because of an accidental overdose, it is just traumatizing,” Walker said.

 

Overdose-related deaths in the First State rose to 308 in 2016, up from 228 in 2015.