Delawareans struggling with substance use disorder can now order naloxone by mail, state officials announced today. The medication is also branded as Narcan and Evzio.
The move and other actions should help people “emotionally and medically” coping with the disorder – and further stressed by the pandemic, said Molly Magarik, secretary of the Department of Health and Social Services.
Delaware ranks second nationwide in overdose deaths, said Dr. Karyl Rattay, director of the state Division of Public Health. The biggest factor is fentanyl, a synthetic opioid. Other opioids are also significant factors.
Last year Delaware’s overdose deaths hit a record 431, and with 316 so far, it’s likely to set a new record this year, Magarik said, noting that there’s a long delay in analysis.
Researchers have concluded that 80% of overdose deaths occur at home, Rattay said, and 90% don’t have naloxone at home.
The new deal, accessed through HelpIsHereDE with NEXT Distro, a New York nonprofit that operates in 32 states, will help individuals “order it privately and conveniently,” Rattay said. And for free, if approved after information they provide to enroll is processed.
Officials also touted an OpiRescueDE app (with information on detecting overdoses and how to use the three versions of naloxone available) and a statewide awareness campaign on HelpIsHereDE on billboards, bus shelters and 39 groceries and pharmacies. It includes a 24/7 hope line (833-9-HOPEDE or 833-946-7333) and other resources.
Naloxone will continue to be available through pharmacies and government bridge clinics.
The medication “can very quickly restore normal respiration to a person whose breathing has slowed or stopped as a result of overdosing with heroin or prescription opioid pain medications,” according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
The state has so far this year distributed more than a thousand naloxone kits, said Jim Deel, a community response team member in Kent County, noting that homeless people are suffering a triple whammy regarding their mental health: addiction, the pandemic and homelessness.
Going forward, the nasal version of Narcan will be the focus of community distribution.
“We want you to pick up that phone,” said Lt. Gov. Bethany Hall-Long, who has a doctorate in health policy and nursing administration, in urging people struggling with substance abuse to reach out. “It’s OK to not feel OK.”
“The stressors of the pandemic have created an extra burden on those struggling with substance addiction,”’ said Dr. David A. Tam, CEO of Beebe Healthcare in Lewes.
“There is help. There is hope,” said Alexis Teitelbaum, acting director of the state Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health. “No one should have to feel alone.”