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State officials say Delaware opioid epidemic needs more resources, funding

Sarah Mueller
Delaware Public Media
Attorney General Matt Denn

Attorney General Matt Denn released a final report Wednesday on the state’s response to the opioid crisis.

In it, the Department of Justice cites positive steps Delaware has taken to address addiction issues in communities across the state. But the report also suggests areas for improvement.

The report calls Delaware’s overdose death rate unacceptably high. Many overdose deaths are caused by ingesting heroin laced with the powerful manufactured opioid Fentanyl. But, it says other social issues contribute to the state’s addiction challenges. It points to an excessive amount of opioid prescriptions and suggests a link between rising opioid overdose deaths and limited access to treatment.

Denn said the state currently only treats slightly more than half of the people that need it.

“First, it is time for Delaware to spend money on this problem in a way that reflects the fact that the opioid epidemic is killing Delawareans at a record rate," he said. "It is our number one cause of accidental death. Dealing with it should be a priority in our state’s budget.”

The report offers recommendations state lawmakers can consider to tackle these issues when they return to Dover in January. Denn said getting more Delawareans treatment for their addictions tops that list.

“Much more needs to be done," he said. "Here at the Department of Justice, we’ve been vocal advocating for these and other reforms because this epidemic is a human tragedy, a public health crisis and a disaster for the criminal justice system.”

The report recommends an addition $4 million in state funding to bridge the treatment gap. It also calls for a central navigation system for essential services and expanding treatment for people accused of a crime.

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