Delaware officials report record number of overdose deaths in August

- NEW CASTLE, Del. (AP/WTXF) -- Delaware public health officials are reporting a record number of deaths from suspected drug overdoses in August.

Officials said Tuesday that the 39 deaths reported last month is the highest since they began tracking deaths from suspected overdoses in late 2013. The previous monthly high was 27 deaths in April.

Officials suspect many of the overdoses involved fentanyl, a highly toxic synthetic opioid far more potent than heroin.

“It is heartbreaking and alarming to see so many lives lost to suspected overdoses,” said DHSS Secretary Dr. Kara Odom Walker, a board-certified family physician. “We suspect that many of the overdoses involved fentanyl so we are warning people who are in active use to assume that the illicit drugs they are using contain this highly toxic and dangerous synthetic opioid. Any use of such a substance could kill them.”

Last year, about 60 percent of the state's 345 overdose deaths involved fentanyl, while 40 percent involved heroin. 

Last year's death toll was up 12 percent from 2016. As of Saturday, there have been 202 deaths from suspected overdoses this year. But officials note that because of a lag in toxicology analyses, the total number of deaths likely is much higher. 

Individuals who are actively using in Delaware are encouraged to see a medical provider immediately, ask police or other first responders for help or to call DHSS’ 24/7 Crisis Services Hotline to be connected to trained crisis professionals who can discuss treatment options.

RESOURCES:

Individuals who are actively using in Delaware are encouraged to see a medical provider immediately, ask police or other first responders for help or to call DHSS’ 24/7 Crisis Services Hotline to be connected to trained crisis professionals who can discuss treatment options.

  • 24/7 Crisis Services Hotline for New Castle County: 1-800-652-2929
  • 24/7 Crisis Services Hotline for Kent and Sussex counties: 1-800-345-6785

Individuals and families also can visit the DHSS online to find addiction treatment and recovery services in Delaware or nearby states.

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