Overdose deaths are high across the nation and in Delaware. According to the CDC web site, “Nearly 841,000 people have died since 1999 from a drug overdose. In 2019, 70,630 drug overdose deaths occurred in the United States.” This reflects an increase of more than 4% from 2018. More than 70% of those deaths involved the use of an opioid.
Many opioid deaths start with a prescription from a doctor for pain. Patients become addicted to the medication and seek ways to continue using it long after their initial pain is gone. For a long time, such medication was prescribed freely by doctors who were being told by drug companies that their drugs were not addictive. In some cases, where doctors were reluctant to prescribe them, patients would “doctor-shop” to get more medication.
In recent years, we’ve all become more aware of, and sensitive to, the dangers of opioids and limitations have been placed on doctors’ ability to prescribe them. Opioid prescriptions are now more strictly tracked and limited when there is no medical reason to continue their use. However, it is still important for families of patients prescribed opioids to be aware of those prescriptions and raise red flags when they think their loved ones are being overprescribed. Someone with an addiction will try many different ways to get drugs, including seeking help from other doctors, going to the Emergency Department, etc. And, when patients can no longer get legal prescriptions, they often turn to street drugs to feed their addictions.
Delaware is no stranger to drug abuse problems. The Delaware Department of Health and Social Services tracks overdose deaths in the State on a daily basis. The count as of September 9, 2021 was 214 overdose deaths in Delaware since the start of 2021. You can find that count at the top of the Department’s home page at https://dhss.delaware.gov/dhss/.
In that same location on the web site, there are links to those who are struggling with addiction as well as resources for families. Those struggling with addiction are urged to contact a 24/7 telephone line -The Delaware Hope Line – at 833-9-HOPEDE. The link for families who are looking for help for a family member is DrugFree.org/Delaware, allowing families to quickly connect with a specialist who can provide one-on-one support and explore resources.
If you or a loved one has been prescribed opioid medication that has impaired your life, and would like to consult with a Murphy & Landon attorney, contact us at: 866-939-8100 or 302-472-8100