YES, You NAR-Can Save a Life

July 2023

It is no secret that Delaware, and Sussex County in particular, grapple with high rates of prescription opioid misuse and abuse. Despite hosting just under a quarter of Delaware’s population, Sussex County accounts for 25.9% of the state’s overdoses, according to the Delaware Drug Monitoring Initiative (DMI) 2022 Report.

This crisis has been further exacerbated by limited access to addiction treatment and healthcare services, creating a complex set of challenges for the community. The landscape has evolved to include a surge in illicit opioids, such as fentanyl and heroin, which have led to a drastic increase in overdose deaths within Sussex and across the state. According to the 2022 DMI Report, fentanyl is present in 81% of toxicology reports for overdose-related deaths. While tracking newly emerging trends in opioid misuse, we must also be conscious of the dangers of Xylazine and a resurgence of Cocaine, which foreshadows the dangers to come in our communities. It is critical to remain vigilant on all trends surrounding drug usage, including gateway drugs as the landscape changes. These trends and shifts call for a multifaceted approach to address the crisis, including targeted prevention efforts, expanding access to evidence-based treatments, and promoting harm reduction strategies.

At SCHC, we align these initiatives to coalesce the Delaware Goes Purple (DEGP) campaign; by prioritizing DEGP prevention efforts, we can educate community members, especially young people, about the dangers of drug misuse and addiction. By maintaining a strong focus on prevention and continually reinforcing the importance of drug awareness through the DEGP campaign, we can make a lasting impact on the well-being of our community and reduce the devastating effects of the opioid epidemic.

As the landscape of substance abuse continues to evolve, we must stay at the forefront of prevention and education efforts. At SCHC, we recognize that harm reduction strategies, such as the distribution of Naloxone, do not always reach their target population. In fact, the 2022 DMI Report noted Naloxone contacts via EMS decreased in the state by 16%, as well as distribution, which decreased by 19%. As a result, we are soon to announce our Yes, I narCAN! Save a Life campaign. The distribution of naloxone to the community is essential in saving lives and preventing fatal opioid overdoses by ensuring that individuals and their loved ones have access to potentially life-saving medication in emergency situations.

These campaigns go beyond mere promotional efforts; they are ways community members can easily engage in being part of the larger scale solutions Sussex County and Delaware need. SCHC remains committed to championing substance abuse disorder and drug prevention efforts,
diligently working to raise awareness and support for those affected by addiction in Sussex County through DEGP and the emerging Yes, I narCAN! Campaign.

The time to act is now, and this fall, we invite you to join us in doubling down to combat substance abuse and misuse. By wearing your purple or hosting DEGP events within your organization, you are committing to making a stronger and safer Delaware for all.

Our greatest strength is in our partners—if you are unable to attend one of SCHC’s many DEGP events this fall, we encourage you to engage with one of our partners’ many drug-prevention marches and events, with agencies such as the Behavioral Health Consortium, or our friends at Beebe Hospital. There are endless ways to get involved, and for more ideas, reach out to the SCHC team—and remember to keep your eyes peeled for Purple this fall!

Peggy M. Geisler
Executive Director


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