Four Delaware heroin deaths in five hours

 (Shirley Min/WHYY)

(Shirley Min/WHYY)

Sunday’s deaths are a stark reminder of Delaware’s ongoing heroin epidemic.

Four seperate deaths.

From 8 a.m. to 1:05 p.m. Sunday, New Castle County Police responded to four separate overdose cases believed to be caused by heroin use. The incidents happened in Wilmington, Newark, and Claymont. While the official cause of death has yet to be determined, New Castle County Interim Police Chief Vaughn Bond said heroin seems to be a common factor.

“This is concerning and something we’ve seen before with Fentanyl or other bad batches of heroin,” Bond said. “This is a stark reminder that the drug dealers don’t care what they lace the heroin with and couldn’t care less about the addicted person’s life- drug dealers simply see drug users as a means of making money.”

Delaware’s heroin problem appears to be getting worse. In 2016, the state’s total number of fatal overdoses was more than 300. Toxicology reports released from the Division of Forensic Science showed the 120 deaths were caused by Fentanyl alone, Fentanyl mixed with cocaine or heroin, or both, comprising more than a third of the 308 total fatal overdoses in 2016.

The majority of the 2016 overdose deaths involved men. The ages ranged from 17 to 64, with more than half of the deaths involving individuals in their 30s and 40s, and the average age was slightly above 38.

In all of 2015, there were 42 overdose deaths involving Fentanyl in Delaware. That’s up from 15 deaths in 2012, a 180 percent spike. From 2015 to 2016, the rate almost tripled, increasing by 186 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In an effort to reduce the number of overdose deaths, the state has established a website for individuals and families to get help. The site, www.HelpIsHereDE.com, provides information about addiction treatment and recovery services in Delaware and nearby states. If individuals see someone overdosing, they should call 911. Under Delaware law, Good Samaritans cannot be arrested for low-level drug crimes.

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