Spike in heroin overdoses leads to two deaths in Sussex

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Delaware State Police and Public Health officials have reported a spike in suspected heroin overdoses in Sussex County that led to two deaths.

Sergeant Richard D. Bratz, director of the Public Information Office for the Delaware State Police reported that a significant spike of heroin overdoses have occurred over the past several days in Sussex.

“We had two suspected overdose deaths reported in Sussex – one on Friday and one on Saturday,” stated Jill Friedel, spokesperson for the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services. “From Thursday into Sunday afternoon, 20 patients in Sussex County received naloxone via EMS, including 15 in western Sussex. By comparison, during that same time frame, a total of 8 patients combined in Kent and New Castle counties received naloxone via EMS.”

Hospitals and urgent care centers were notified of the increase by the Division of Public Health’s Emergency Medical Services, which oversees the state’s paramedic service.

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“This spike in overdoses is in alarming,” said Dr. Kara Odom Walker, a family physician and secretary for the Department of Health and Social Services.

“Even one use of heroin or another opioid can end a life. For people in active use and their families, please convince your loved ones to seek treatment for their addiction or keep naloxone in your home. Addiction is a disease and treatment does work. Our staff at the DHSS Crisis Helpline will listen, and they will connect you to treatment options.”

In 2016, 308 people died from overdoses in Delaware, almost triple the number who died in traffic accidents. In 2015, 228 people died from overdoses in Delaware, with 222 overdoses deaths reported in 2014.

Prevention, treatment and recovery information and resources in Delaware and nearby states also are available on DHSS’ www.HelpIsHereDE.com website.

DHSS will initiate a community outreach campaign in May that will include an unveiling of the revamped website, materials for medical providers on prescribing pain medications, and information on how to screen patients and connect them with addiction treatment resources, as well as materials on preventing substance exposure in infants.

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