Delaware Public Media

August saw more overdose deaths in Delaware than any month on record

Sep 11, 2018

More people died in Delaware from suspected drug overdoses last month than any other month on record.

39 overdose deaths were counted in the First State during the month of August—27 in New Castle County.

It’s the most fatal month for overdoses since the Department of Health and Social Services began keeping track in late 2013. Previously the highest statewide monthly total was 27 in April of last year.

DHSS Secretary Dr. Kara Odom Walker encourages all individuals in active substance use to seek addiction treatment.

“It’s obviously this horrific trend and we’re worried about people who are actively using,” said Walker. “So many times we know people who are vulnerable at moments when they experience an overdose or they’re out of treatment or they’re recovering and we want to make sure people are aware of the risks.”

Detailed toxicology reports are not yet available, but Walker says she suspects most will test positive for Fentanyl.

The majority of overdose deaths in Delaware during 2016 and 2017 were from Fentanyl. The substance can be 50 to 100 times more potent than heroin.

The announcement from DHSS comes on the heels of Gov. John Carney signing a bill allowing the creation of overdose stabilization centers.

Attorney General Matt Denn says he hopes the state will follow through and open these facilities.

“The state needs to invest real resources in actually setting up these treatment facilities, particularly for people with substance use issues who need more intensive treatment--who need residential treatment or need to be living in a sober living setting,” said Denn.

At least 202 people have died in the First State from suspected overdoses so far this year, but officials say the lag in toxicology analysis could mean there have been many more deaths.