In the wake of a series of heroin overdoses in western Sussex County from early Friday through early Saturday, including one that was fatal, health and law enforcement officials are warning users, families, treatment providers and health care professionals of the dangerous spike.
EMS responded to seven reported overdoses in a 24-hour period beginning Friday in the Seaford and Laurel areas. In several of the cases, paramedics used naloxone, the overdose-reversing medication, to save the individual before transporting them to the hospital.
Michael Barbieri, director of the Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health, alerted treatment providers statewide of the surge in overdoses in western Sussex. 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.
“This spike in overdoses is in alarming,” said Dr. Kara Odom Walker, a family physician and Cabinet 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.”
For users and families who want to be connected to treatment immediately, call the Department of Health and Social Services’ 24/7 Crisis Helpline at 1-800-345-6785 in Sussex and Kent counties, or 1-800-652-2929 in New Castle County. If individuals see someone overdosing, they should call 911. Under Delaware’s 911/Good Samaritan Law, people who call 911 to report an overdose and the person in medical distress cannot be arrested for low-level drug crimes.
The Sussex County Drug Unit is actively investigating and seeking information on any of the recent drug overdoses. The public is encouraged to call Sergeant M. Dawson of the Sussex County Drug Unit at (302) 752-3815 with any information.