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DPH launches program addressing substance abuse in restaurant industry

Delaware Public Media

The First State restaurant industry is getting help from the State to combat the stigma associated with substance use disorder.

Delaware’s Division of Public Health launched the Restaurant Accolade Program earlier this spring to address substance abuse and opioid overdoses in the local restaurant industry.

DPH’s Office of Health Crisis Response (OHCR) is working to train and educate staff, managers and owners how to reverse an opioid overdose and support coworkers battling addiction.

“Back in 2019 we did a "mortality surveillance report," said Kate Brookins, a public health administrator with the DPH. "That mortality was essentially an analysis of all the overdose deaths in our State for 2017. So we looked very, very much in detail of who died - what kind of people.”

Brookins says the report revealed 10% of the 447 overdose deaths that year involved food services industry employees.

To receive certification and recognition, restaurants and their staff go through three levels of hands-on training.

Several restaurants have already reached bronze level training after the program’s initial outreach.

Restaurants and food service establishments who sign up for training in overdose prevention receive opioid rescue kits that contain naloxone - a medication used to reverse the effects of opioids.

Kelli Steele has over 30 years of experience covering news in Delaware, Baltimore, Winchester, Virginia, Phoenix, Arizona and San Diego, California.