Fentanyl Kills Twice as Many People in Delaware This Year: Officials

Bags of heroin, some laced with fentanyl, are displayed. Getty Images

The grip of the powerful drug Fentanyl has taken twice as many lives in Delaware this year with a few months to spare.

Through the first nine months of 2016 90 people died from overdoses of the synthetic painkiller, said the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services and Delaware Department of Safety and Homeland Security in a joint news release.

The total more than doubles the total of 42 fentanyl deaths in 2015, said the groups.

"The fentanyl on our streets is so toxic that it greatly decreases the chance of survival," said DSHS Secretary James Mosley.

The agencies say that drug dealers are lacing heroin or cocaine with fentanyl or selling the drug on its own.

"The dramatic increase in overdose deaths related to fentanyl is heartbreaking," said DHSS Secretary Rita Landgraf. "We urge people to seek treatment for addiction rather than face an increasing risk of death from an overdose of fentanyl, heroin, cocaine or some combination of drugs. One use of any drug can be deadly, but with fentanyl, the risk too often is tragically greater. For individuals suffering from addiction or families worried about a loved one, my department can connect people to treatment. While relapse is part of this disease, we also know that treatment does work and people do recover."

DHSS said people battling addiction could contact the department’s 24/7 Crisis Service Helpline at 1-800-652-2929 in New Castle County and 1-800-345-6785 in Kent and Sussex counties. DHSS has also launched a website to help with addiction.