Lieutenant Governor Bethany Hall Long vowed to continue the fight to save lives and underscored the importance of Narcan after a newly released report revealed that in 2017 another person was present in 90% of all overdose deaths and did not have access to the live-saving medication.
The Delaware Division of Public Health (DPH), through the integration of 12 multi-agency datasets, developed a demographic picture of the Delawareans who died from drug overdoses in 2017 titled the Drug Overdose Mortality Surveillance Report.
Following the release of the report, Lt. Governor Hall-Long emphasized the importance of Narcan and the pivotal role it plays in saving lives and combatting the opioid epidemic in Delaware.
“It’s really important, if you have a loved one or if you have someone that’s using, to get the antidote,” the Lt. Governor stressed. “You can buy it over the counter at any pharmacy or the state has it free.”
As part of her Behavioral Health Consortium, a multi-faceted effort to tackle substance abuse disorder and mental illness statewide, Lt. Governor Hall-Long has traveled to communities in all three counties as part of a boots-on-the-ground effort to ensure the life-saving opioid overdose reversal medication, Narcan is readily available.
Synthetic opioids (such as fentanyl or tramadol) were the most common drug type associated with drug overdose deaths among all age groups, according to the report.
A total of 346 Delaware residents died of a drug overdose in 2017, according to the report released by DPH. Of those overdoses, over 70% involved Fentanyl and a staggering 90% of the homes involved did not have Narcan.
“Not only has the Fentanyl been 72% of those deaths, but in those homes, 90% of those homes did not have Narcan, the antidote, and another person was present,” Lt. Governor Hall Long emphasized.
In 2018, first responders in Delaware administered 3,728 doses of naloxone, compared to 2,861 in 2017, a 30% increase. Eighty-one percent, or four out of five, persons who died of a drug overdose in 2017 interacted with a Delaware health system in the year prior to their deaths.
Several pieces of legislation were signed in Delaware to allow first responders to provide the medication. In 2018, Governor Carney signed legislation to protect firefighters, park rangers, ambulance drivers, campus security, lifeguards, and other emergency personnel to carry and administer naloxone.
Federal funding through the SAMHSA First Responder Grant allowed the State to provide naloxone to law enforcement agencies. Now, in combination with dedicated state funding, Delaware significantly increased distribution and saturation of the life-saving medication among first responder agencies statewide.