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Nat'l expert on opioid crisis offers perspective on its impact in Delaware

Delaware Public Media

The opioid epidemic has affected the nation, including Delaware, for more than 20 years.

The number of suspected overdose deaths continues to rise. Nearly a dozen people died of suspected overdoses in Delaware over Thanksgiving weekend, and the number for the year stands at more than 220.

Dr. Andrew Kolodny is the Co-Director of the Opioid Policy Research Collaborative at Brandeis University’s Heller School. He has been studying the opioid crisis for more than 15 years, and worked for the New York City Health Department in the early two thousands to reduce overdose deaths there. Kolodny participated in an event in Delaware earlier this week and says the opioid epidemic was caused in the late 90s by the medical field.

“This is an epidemic of opioid addiction caused by over prescribing. As the prescribing went up, the number of Americans with opioid addiction increased,” said Kolodny.

He also says there is a direct correlation between the over-prescribing of opioids and increased heroin use nationally and in Delaware.

Delaware lawmakers passed legislation earlier in the year to slow the amount of opioids prescribed in the First State, requiring first-time opioid prescriptions not exceed a one-week supply. In the wake of that move, the state Division of Professional Regulation reports a 12% drop prescriptions, compared to the first quarter of 2017.

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