Del. Health Worker Reacts to Sharp Rise in Fentanyl-related Deat - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Del. Health Worker Reacts to Sharp Rise in Fentanyl-related Deaths

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(Photo: AP) (Photo: AP)

GEORGETOWN, Del.– A health director at an inpatient facility that helps recovering addicts is reacting to startling numbers released Wednesday by the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services and the Department of Safety and Homeland Security that show there have been more fentanyl-related deaths so far this year than all of 2015.

Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic painkiller. According to health officials, it is 50 times more potent than heroin.

“It’s a major step up,” said Susan Harris, treatment services director at Threshold Inc., located in Georgetown, Del. “It’s a very dangerous step up.”

On Wednesday, Delaware officials said there were 44 fentanyl-related deaths between January and mid-May of this year. Not six-months into 2016 and the number has already exceeded all fentanyl-related deaths in 2015.

Harris worries the better high is incentive that keeps drug users on the streets. What makes it so much more deadly than heroin alone is the fact it is much more effective at suppressing our respiratory system. What’s worse, according to Harris, is that a drug user often times may not even know the heroin they are buying is also laced with fentanyl.

"We're not hearing people actually trying to get fentanyl,” Harris said, "They're buying heroin."

At Threshold, Harris and her staff light a candle to honor those who have died from a result of drug abuse. On most years, she says they go through one candle. This year, they are getting ready to light a third. 

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