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Google partnering with Delaware to fight opioid crisis

DSAMH Director Elizabeth Romero

The state is partnering with Google to try to make it easier for Delawareans to connect with addiction resources online.

Delaware ranks first in the nation per capita in Google searches for methadone and ranks in the top ten in searches for information on substance use in general. The new pilot program seeks to ensure addiction resources from Delaware’s Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health (DSAMH) are featured more prominently in those searches. 

“So if you can just imagine on the very top of the page sometimes you see some adds, sometimes you see some features—making sure that this information ends up in that real estate so people don’t have to search too far down,” said Adam Barea, a Director at Google.

Barea says the new partnership was launched when he met DSAMH Director Elizabeth Romero at an event.

“We got to talking about some of the unique characteristics of the state, some of the unique characteristics concerning the media market, the way that substance abuse disorder is actually hitting the state—top ten in the nation in drug overdoses,” said Barea. “We started looking at the Google trends data and it was pretty clear there were people in the state searching for things like methadone.”     

Google is also promoting the Partnership for Drug Free Kids helpline which recently merged with Center On Addiction. The nonprofit group offers support for people with substance abuse disorder and their families on multiple platforms.

“Once they’re driven to those resources via Google, what we’re able to do is when they want a little bit more, when they want to reach out for help, we’re there for them,” said Fred Muench, the Partnership’s President. “So we have web, we have phone, we have text messaging and we have parent coaching”    

Google is paying $500,000 to the Partnership and is offering technical support to the state. Barea says Google is committed to working with Delaware for the next few years.

A record 400 people died in Delaware last year from drug overdoses and state health officials say a similar amount is expected this year. 

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