Deaths Caused by Fentanyl Overdose Skyrocket in Delaware - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Deaths Caused by Fentanyl Overdose Skyrocket in Delaware

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(Photo: AP) (Photo: AP)

NEW CASTLE, Del. (AP/WBOC)- Delaware officials are raising concerns about the sharp increase in the number of overdose deaths linked to the drug fentanyl.
    
The Delaware Department of Health and Social Services and the Department of Safety and Homeland Security said Wednesday that 44 people died from overdoses involving fentanyl between January and mid-May.
    
That's more than the total number of people who died from fentanyl overdoses in all of 2015. Delaware's number of fentanyl-related deaths this year was a 180 percent increase over 2012, when there were just 15 fentanyl-related deaths in the First State.
    
Officials say the synthetic painkiller is more than 50 times more potent than heroin.
    
DSHS Secretary James Mosley said fentanyl is "so toxic" that it greatly increases the chance of death.

"In only seven of the 44 cases did the Division of Forensic Science also confirm the presence of heroin," he said. "This year we are seeing an increase in cocaine, with the drugs presence confirmed in 19 of the fentanyl-related overdose cases." 
    
Officials are urging people to visit the DHSS website, Help is Here or call DHSS' 24/7 Crisis Services Helpline to find addiction treatment options. In New Castle County, the number is 1-800-652-2929. In Kent and Sussex counties, the number is 1-800-345-6785. 

"We urge people to seek treatment for addiction rather than face an increasing risk of death from an overdose of fentanyl, heroin, cocaine or some combination of drugs," DHSS Secretary Rita Landgraf said. "With the extreme potency of fentanyl, even one use can be deadly. For individuals suffering from addiction or families worried about a loved one, we can connect people to treatment. While relapse is part of this disease, we also know that treatment does work and people do recover."

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