Delaware Drug Rehab

With a population of over 800,000 people, addiction and abuse of drugs and alcohol are a growing problem for the state of Delaware. Because of this, there are many Delaware drug rehab facilities that are assisting in trying to help those with addiction problems find the help that they need. Unfortunately, in many cases, they are not succeeding in effectively treating patients as they have modeled themselves after traditional programs and therapies that are quite out of date and ineffective.

Rehab Has Traditional Programs and Therapies

As of 2008, the state of Delaware had reported that Crack and powder Cocaine, Heroin, and Marijuana were the biggest problems on their streets. Now there is also a rise in popularity in the illicit use of many of the club drugs such as Ecstasy, Methamphetamine, and the abuse of prescription medications. Delaware’s addiction problem is touching the lives of everyone no matter of age, ethnicity, gender, or social class although Methamphetamine and prescription pills seems to be more popular with the younger age groups.

Delaware’s local and state governments have all committed to fighting this social problem that continues to plague the rural and urban communities in the state. Although they continue to come up with new ideas for fighting this war, the growing number of suppliers and manufacturers coming into the state from neighboring New York and Pennsylvania are making it difficult for Delaware’s people and government.

Delaware and Addiction


The aim of this article is to present an informative account about drug problems in the State of Delaware. Information was drawn from a lengthy search of the Internet. Sources used were published online between 1999 and 2012. The Delaware Drug Control Update published by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) in 2012 was particularly helpful. Other sources included news articles published online and reports from other government agencies.

First, a few facts about the State of Delaware are discussed, followed by drug use trends in the state. This topic is subdivided into prescription drug use, drugged driving, drug use deaths, drugs and crime, and drugs and adolescents. The next major topic is wins and losses in the state’s war on drugs. The article concludes with the question, how did such a small state like Delaware develop such a huge drug problem.

Several facts stand out:

  • The money spent by the state of Delaware seems very high. In 2010, the state received $24 million in federal funding for the purpose of reducing substance abuse. This amounts to a per capita expenditure of $24. This is approximately one-tenth the $283 million set aside for drinking water infrastructure funding for the next 20 years.
  • Delaware’s main drug problem appears to be diversion of prescription opioid drugs.
  • While a lot of attention and resources are directed toward drug use in young people, it is adults between the ages of 45 and 50 who account for 90% of deaths due to drug overdose.


Delaware, also known as The First State, Blue Hen State, Small Wonder and the Diamond State, occupies approximately 2,500 square miles. It has a population of 917,092, ranking 45th in population out of a total of 50 states. Delaware has three counties: New Castle, Sussex and Kent.

According to, the per capita income for Delaware for 2008-2012 was $29,733, higher than the national average of $28,051. The median household income in Delaware is around $60,000, up by more than 26% since 2000.


The most recent survey from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) (2007-2008) revealed that 9.14% of residents in Delaware had used illicit drugs in the previous month. This is higher than the national average of 8.02%. Also, 4.2% of residents said they had used illicit drugs other than marijuana.

Prescription drug use

The results of a wide-ranging pilot ultrarapid assessment of prescription-drug diversion that was conducted in Wilmington in 2006 was reported in the journal Pain Medicine. The study revealed:

  • The main sources of prescription drugs that reach the street are the elderly, people in pain, pill brokers and doctor shoppers.
  • Three reasons were discovered for the popularity of prescription drugs on the street. These were (1) the perception prescribed drugs are less stigmatizing; (2) that they are less dangerous and (3) that they are subject to less serious legal consequences than illicit drugs.
  • Abuse of prescribed opioids appears to be a gateway to heroin use.
  • Three areas of focus were identified that could preclude prescribed opioid diversion. These were (1) recognizing when patients are diverting prescription opioids; (2) evaluating a patient’s risk of diverting drugs before prescribing opioid therapy and (3) understanding the variation in abuse potential the different opioids presently on the street market.
  • Patient education was recommended in the areas of correct disposal of unused medicines, safeguarding their medications and understanding the consequences of manipulating prescribers and selling their prescription drugs.

Prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs)
Source: Delaware Drug Control Update, ODNCP 2012

Prescription drugs accounted for slightly more than one-third (just over 1,000) of the most common reasons for substance abuse treatment admissions in 2010. The remaining two, heroin and marijuana, accounted for 1,000 admissions each. Third runner-up was cocaine, with approximately 380 admissions.

The abuse of prescription drugs is the fastest-growing drug problem in the United States. In July 2010, Delaware Governor Jack Markell signed into law a bill that authorized the state controlled substances office to establish a prescription information database. The intent of the bill was to limit a practice known as “doctor shopping” specifically and prescription drug abuse in general. Information about Controlled Substances Schedules II through V would be made available to law enforcement, licensing boards, pharmacists, prescribers and patients.

The purpose of PDMPs are to assist in patient care, provide early warning signs of drug epidemics and detect insurance fraud and drug diversion.

Drug take-back programs
Source: Delaware Drug Control Update, ODNCP 2012

The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) is leading a “Drug Take-back Event” on April 26, 2014. This is an opportunity for the public to hand over its unused, expired or unwanted prescription medication, specifically controlled substances, to law enforcement for safe destruction. The Delaware Division of Public Health is supporting this initiative. Participation is anonymous and voluntary. While it will assist people who would otherwise unwittingly dispose of such substances in the public refuse, where it could be salvaged and sold on the street, it will be interesting to see how many people actually return their unused painkillers and tranquilizers – if, indeed, it were possible to record this data accurately.

The first National Drug Take-back day was held in April 2010. Delaware’s 14 collection sites received 303 pounds of drugs.

In addition, the New Castle Police Department operates a permanent medicine disposal box in the lobby of the Paul J Sweeney Public Safety Building that is available 24 hours a day. It is the only such facility in the state. In the first seven months of its existence, 169 pounds of inhalers, pills, creams, liquids and capsules were collected (News Journal, February 2014).

Drugged driving
Main Source: Delaware State Office of Highway Safety
Press release dated February 2011

In February 2011, the Delaware Office of Highway Safety launched a public education and awareness campaign on the dangers of driving while under the influence of prescription drugs. In Delaware during the year 2009, there were 102 fatal road traffic accidents. Ten percent of these involved drivers under the influence of drugs, either recreational, prescription or over-the-counter.

Many drivers are unaware that they may be charged with driving under the influence (DUI) if they are found to be driving while under the influence of prescription drugs. Refusal to have a drug test is admissible in both criminal and civil cases. The most common prescription drugs found in offending drivers are Valium, Codeine, Xanax, Nembutal, Percocet and many cough medicines.

Delaware has a Per Se standard for DUI involving drugs. This means that if someone tests positive for any amount of a drug is interpreted as evidence of impaired driving. A total of 17 states have Per Se driving standards.

Drug use deaths
Source: Delaware Health Statistics Center Factsheet, 2010

The death rate for drug use in Delaware is lower than the national average. That is cold comfort to the loved ones of the 144 people whose deaths were directly rated to drugs in 2010. This is a 300% increase over 50 deaths due to drugs in 1999. In 2007, this figure was 102. More Delaware residents died in 2010 from drug overdoses than from any other type of injury.

During the ten years between 1999 and 2010, consistently more males than females died from drug overdoses. In the year 2010, white decedents aged 45-50 accounted for 90% of drug overdose deaths. Of these, males accounted for 44% and females, 47%. It is unlikely that students at University of Delaware are behind these figures.

Drugs and crime
Source: Governing Delaware: Policy problems in the First State, William W Boyer, July 2000

In 1996, 44% of victims in shooting deaths had prior drug charges, while 65% of suspects had at least one previous drug charge. There are those who attribute Delaware’s, in particular Wilmington’s, soaring crime rates to the inextricable triumvirate of drugs, guns and kids. There is a Delaware University campus in Wilmington and campuses in Newark, Dover, Lewes and Georgetown.

Drugs and adolescents
Source: Delaware Adolescent Substance Abuse Facts, Office of Adolescent Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2011

In terms of cigarette and alcohol use, Delaware’s high school students do not differ significantly than teenagers all over the country. When it comes to marijuana use, Delaware teens outperform their counterparts in the rest of the country by 15%. Delaware’s youth do not differ significantly from the rest of the country with regard to the use of inhalants, cocaine or the use of pain relievers for non-medical reasons.


Win: A brief history of bath salts
Main Source: The New Journal, October 2013

2011 Ban on Bath Salts – Autumn 2011 saw Delaware on the brink of a violent epidemic of violence caused by use of Bath Salts, a synthetic drug distributed through unwitting legitimate retail outlets such as gas stations and tobacco stores. The drug was attractively packaged with innocent names like “Blue Silk,” “Vanilla Sky” and “Tranquillity.” Police and emergency room services were stretched to the limit. Craig Hochstein, Bayhealth’s Director of Emergency Clare, said it was “out of control.”

Bath salts is a collective term for a group of designer drugs with effects similar to those of cocaine and amphetamines. The packaging of these drugs bears a warning, “Not for human consumption,” in a ploy to avoid being classified under drug prevention laws.

At the height of the drugs’ popularity in Delaware, it was dragging one violent, hallucinating patient each day into hospital emergency rooms. One night in September, a police lieutenant was fatally stabbed by a paranoid and hallucinating drug user, high on Bath Salts. Within two weeks, the drug was temporarily banned by the state. Four months later, the drug was banned for good.

Two years later, nurses and police offers were struggling to remember the last case they had seen of Bath Salts intoxication. The ban had worked. Experts attributed the effectiveness of the ban to the fact that the drug was marketed through legitimate business people who, once they had been educated as to its dangers, and in response to the ban, opted out of being involved with it in any way.

Win: Delaware investigators help bust violent drug cartel kingpin
Source: The News Journal, January 11, 2014

What began with a wrapper at the bottom of a trash can in Pike Peak led six months later to the arrest in Southern California of a former member of a notorious Mexican drug cartel who was ultimately convicted on charges of money laundering and drug conspiracy. While the local press made a big deal of the drug bust, Wilmington resident The Rev Dr H Ward Greer, in a Letter to the Editor, argued that resources should be targeted toward the “real issues in the drug trade” (government officials, politicians and bent cops), drugs would continue to flow into Delaware.

Loss: Ongoing problems at lab shut down state drug courts
Sources: News Journal, February 2014; Washington Times, February 2014; NBC Philadelphia, February 2014

In February 2014, it was discovered that drugs had gone missing or been replaced with fakes in 21 criminal cases between 2010 and 2014 where samples had been sent to the state drugs lab. The medical examiner’s evidence locker was immediately seized and secured by the Delaware State Police pending an audit. The Delaware Attorney General requested a 60-day suspension of state drug cases so that samples taken during the dozen or so cases pending could be retested at a different laboratory.

Win: Decide your time
Source: Journal of Criminal Justice, 2011; National Institute of Justice, “Evaluating Delaware’s Decide Your Time Program for Drug-Using Offenders Under Community Supervision”

Inspired by the success of Hawaii’s Project HOPE, Delaware’s DYT program was designed to manage high-risk drug probationers by focusing on detection via drug tests rather than levying heavy sanctions. Important issues that were unveiled included logistics, client eligibility, judicial practices and cooperation with secure facilities. Equally important is the ability of program managers to pay attention to frontline officers.

Decide your time (DYT) protocol

  • Eligible individuals were high-risk probationers who had failed their first urine test or those who were escalated from a lower level of supervision for failed urine tests.
  • Start-up phase began with an explanation of the program and a two-week period to arrange a plan for sobriety.
  • Phase 1 – Randomly weekly urine screens for three months. Successful completion resulted in de-escalation to lower level of supervision (Level 2). Failed urine test meant progression to Phase 2 of DYT.
  • Phase 2 – Four days in probation violation center + Saturday treatment sessions + two mandatory weekly urine tests for 30 days. Failure escalates to Phase 3.
  • Phase 3 – 6 pm curfew + Saturday treatment sessions + two mandatory weekly urine tests for 30 days. Failure escalates to Phase 4.
  • Phase 4 – Five days in probation violation center + Return to Phase 3.
  • 30 days’ compliance at Phase 2 or 3 resulted in return to Phase 1. Failure at Phase 1 reverted to movement to the next highest probation level.

Small win: Prescription fraud
Source: The News Journal, March 2014

A nurse at a Delaware hospital was recently arrested after a year-long investigation. She is alleged to have illegally obtained the painkiller oxycodone for personal use. A spokesman for the state Attorney General’s office revealed that she had been charged with free counts of felony obtaining a controlled substance by misrepresentation or fraud, one count of falsifying a business record and seven counts of second-degree forgery.

According to Attorney General Beau Biden, the practice by health care professionals of appropriating patients’ medication for their own has played a massive role in the wave of prescription drug abuse seen in Delaware and nationwide. Not only does it endanger patients’ lives, it also costs millions of dollars for Medicaid and for private insurers.

Ongoing: Above the Influence
Source: ONDCP Delaware Drug Control Update, 2012

Above the Influence forms a major part of the ONDCP National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign. The aim of the campaign is to inspire and inform young people to reject illicit drinking and drugs by using a combination of local and national advertising programs.


There are only five American states with fewer numbers of people than Delaware. Why, then, in 2007-2008, was it in the top ten states for past-month marijuana and illicit drug use among young adults age 18-25 and past-year cocaine use among individuals 12 years of age and older? In 2010, Delaware received $24M in federal grant awards as follows:

  • Department of Education ($345,909),
  • Department of Health and Human Services ($941,923),
  • National Institutes of Health ($3,771,913),
  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration ($12,346,151)
  • Department of Justice ($6,655,942)
  • Executive Office of the President Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration ($100,000).


The Best Delaware Drug Rehab Referral

The rise in Delaware rehab treatment options makes it easy for someone who may be seeking to get help for their addiction. When choosing the facility for your particular treatment program, be sure that you choose one with a high rate of success as no one wants to go through rehab more than once unless its necessary. If you or a loved one is suffering from addiction, our licensed addiction counselors can help guide you to the path toward a successful recovery and a sober future.  A life free from the restraint of addiction can begin with you choosing to seek help.

Get connected with a drug rehab today!

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