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Delaware overdose deaths could top 400 in 2018

01/02/2019

(WHYY) – Through Christmas Day, 286 deaths from suspected overdoses have been reported in Delaware. When the final toxicology reports are completed in a few months, however, that number could soar to more than 400.

“Regrettably, we’re trending above where we were last year,” said Kara Odom Walker, secretary of the state Department of Health and Social Services. “We anticipate it will continue to climb.”

In 2017, the number of suspected drug fatalities through December was 238, but the ’17 total was finally tallied at 345 overdose deaths after all the data was collected. Because the final official numbers are typically much higher than reported in December, Walker said she expects grim news.

“We know that’s really a terrible trend and heartbreaking because we know people are affected,” she said.

Overdose deaths have been on a steady rise in Delaware in recent years.

The growing use of fentanyl — as an additive to other drugs or taken by itself — has contributed to the rising number of deaths.

“Fentanyl is 50 to 100 times more potent than heroin, and that really leads to these increased deaths that we’re seeing because more fentanyl is coming into our state,” Walker said. “It’s a huge challenge right now.”

Read the full story at whyy.org


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