Current Suspected Overdose Deaths in Delaware for 2023: Get Help Now!
Attention Medicaid Participants: Eligibility Renewals Restarted April 1, 2023
Date: August 29, 2022
DOVER, DE (Aug. 29, 2022) - The Delaware Division of Public Health's (DPH) Office of Health Crisis Response (OHCR) is announcing it will begin including fentanyl test strips in Narcan kits it distributes to the public. The effort is part of a harm-reduction strategy aimed at preventing accidental overdoses due to fentanyl consumption.
Fentanyl is now the leading cause of drug overdose deaths in Delaware, found in more than 80% of fatal overdoses. According to Division of Forensic Science (DFS) data, there were 515 overdose deaths in Delaware in 2021, an increase of 15% from 2020. Fentanyl was found in 83% of those deaths. Individuals can test marijuana, cocaine, meth, ecstasy, and other substances for the presence of fentanyl. The test strips are highly sensitive and will detect fentanyl down to 0.1 mcg/ml. Most overdoses are unintentional, and individuals using may not realize the strength of the drug they are using or that it contains fentanyl. Fentanyl is unable to be detected by sight, taste, smell, or touch.
"Including fentanyl test strips in Narcan kits, is part of a comprehensive strategy to reduce overdose deaths in the state," said DPH Interim Director Dr. Rick Hong. "The test strips are a preventive measure. After a test strip detects fentanyl, an individual can choose not to use the drug based on the risk. However, if they choose to use, they can implement alternative harm-reduction strategies, like going slow, not using as much, or/and not using alone. Having Narcan in the same kit empowers family, friends, and neighbors to act in the event of an overdose. Those living with substance use disorder should designate someone trained in using Narcan to check on them. We will continue to discourage drug use and encourage people to seek treatment, but for persons with substance use disorder, we are using a compassionate approach to help raise awareness and empower friends and family to act in an emergency situation."
In Delaware, testing strips were considered paraphernalia unless used for clinical purposes until June 3, 2021, when Senate Bill 76 was signed by Governor John Carney, which allows for distribution of fentanyl test strips to be used by lay individuals and organizations. Just prior to that, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced in April 2021, that they would permit state purchases of fentanyl test strips with Overdose Data to Action (OD2A) funding for the purpose of distributing to the public. OD2A supports jurisdictions in collecting high quality, comprehensive, and timely data on nonfatal and fatal overdoses and in using those data to inform prevention and response efforts. DPH is one of sixty-six jurisdictions that joined the OD2A cooperative agreement that focuses on surveillance and prevention strategies.
Fentanyl test strips are legal in Delaware, though laws may vary in other states. DPH also distributes 10-pack fentanyl test strip kits through a free mail-order program; details can be found at helpisherede.com/understanding-addiction/what-is-fentanyl.
To further enhance overdose prevention and education efforts, overdose response training is recommended for anyone who has a prescription opioid or knows of someone that has or is using illicit drugs. After the quick training, the individual will receive the overdose reversal medication, Narcan. For community training offerings and information on where you can get free Narcan, go to: https://www.helpisherede.com/overdose-prevention
If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction in Delaware, call DHSS' 24/7 Crisis Hotline to be connected to treatment and recovery options. In New Castle County, call 1-800-652-2929. Or in Kent and Sussex counties, call 1-800-345-6785. For free 24/7 counseling, coaching, and support, as well as links to mental health, addiction, and crisis services call the Delaware Hope Line at 1-833-9-HOPEDE. To search online for treatment and recovery services in Delaware or nearby states, visit HelpIsHereDE.com.
Delaware Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware's citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations.