Eleven people have died in Delaware from suspected overdoses since Nov. 22, raising the concern over the impact of the holidays on people who are in active use and prompting the secretary of health and social services to make an urgent plea for families to seek out a connection to treatment on behalf of their loved ones.

“We know that people who are suffering from addiction are vulnerable, and those vulnerabilities often become heightened during the holidays,” said DHSS Secretary Kara Odom Walker. “The holidays can be stressful and may be a trigger point for people struggling with substance use disorder. The most important thing that families can do is to help their loved ones find a connection to treatment and to get them to that initial intake.”

Of the 11 people who died from suspected overdoses, eight were in New Castle County, and three were in Kent and Sussex counties. The deaths involved both genders, ranging in age from 23 to 62. Through Nov. 26, the total number of deaths from suspected overdoses in 2017 stands at 215.

Families will now have an opportunity to connect with dozens of community partners as they participate in a series of free addiction-related community sessions hosted by the Delaware Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health. The community sessions are a way for people to talk with treatment experts, learn about local services and supports and have access to a training class on how to use the overdose-reversing medication naloxone. A Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health trainer will lead the naloxone training sessions at each event.

Community sessions are from 2-7 p.m. The schedule:

— Kent County: Nov. 30, Delaware Technical Community College, Terry Campus, Corporate Training Center, 100 Campus Drive, Dover.

— New Castle County: Dec. 6, West End Neighborhood House, 710 N. Lincoln St., Wilmington.

— Sussex County: Dec. 14, Delaware Technical Community College, Owens Campus, Carter Partnership Center, 21179 College Drive, Georgetown.

For more about the community engagement sessions, call 255-9480 or email dsamh.training@state.de.us.