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Delaware is Tired of Losing Its Citizens to Overdose

Last year, 300 Delaware residents died from overdose.

Compared to other states’ death tolls, that might not sound like much, but don’t let the numbers fool you. Since 2015, Delaware has seen a 35 percent increase in overdose fatalities. It’s also a significant portion of the population, considering the entire state is home to less than a million people.

Something has to change.

Delaware’s Official New Strategy

Delaware's strategy to prevent and treat substance use disorderState representatives upset by these numbers decided it was time to take action. Gov. John Carney is utilizing Senate Bill 111 to improve the state’s addiction treatment services. His plan for Delaware includes using the most recent initiative, a Behavioral Health Consortium.

By creating a consortium group, Carney plans to bring together key Delaware stakeholders to instigate change in current protocols. The group consists of health professionals, community advocates, and state officials; its goal is to develop a plan that will effectively prevent and treat substance use disorder throughout the state.

Consortium chair Lt. Gov. Bethany Hall-Long explains, “We will directly address the gaps and set specific goals to reduce overdose deaths and improve services for those who are struggling. We have a lot of very dedicated people on this consortium who are ready to get to work, save lives and make Delaware a model for other states to follow.”

Details of the Program

Leaders hope to increase integration and coordination of substance abuse and mental health services across the state. Their plan includes a three-prong approach:

  • Step #1: Prevent and treat substance abuse disorder
  • Step #2: Expand and improve Delaware’s addiction and mental health treatment options
  • Step #3: Provide support for family members of those struggling with chemical dependency or mental health disorders

According to Department of Health and Social Services Cabinet Secretary Dr. Kara Odom Walker, the goal is to create a behavioral health treatment system with the following characteristics:

  • Engaging
  • Integrated
  • Coordinated
  • Comprehensive
  • High-quality
  • Person-centered

Dr. Walker states, “…we’ll do that by working with individuals, families, and stakeholders to identify and reach people quickly and match them with the treatment services they require.”

Going the Extra Mile

The consortium isn’t the state’s only source of recovery efforts. The Department of Health and Social Services offers a Help is Here website, as well as 24/7 crisis hotlines.

Officials plan to use the newly-formed consortium to build and improve on these established services. With the alarming increase in overdose deaths, current solutions clearly aren’t enough.

The consortium held its first meeting in October, and hopes are high that they’ll take steps to make 2018 a better year for Delaware.

Additional Reading:   The Opiate Crisis is Officially a Nat’l Emergency – Now What?

Image Source: iStock

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