27 September 2018

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Gov. John Carney recently joined Lt. Gov. Bethany Hall-Long, members of the Behavioral Health Consortium, first-responders and advocates to sign three bills into law that are aimed at fighting the addiction epidemic and saving lives in Delaware.

All three bills -- HS #1 for House Bill 440, Senate Bill 206 and Senate Bill 225 -- are first-year priorities of the Behavioral Health Consortium's Three Year Action Plan.

"Today, Delaware became the first state in the nation to enact an Overdose System of Care to improve our state's care and treatment for Delawareans and families affected by the opioid crisis," said Carney. "We strengthened our Prescription Monitoring Program, and we encouraged prescribers and patients to consider using non-opioid methods when treating back pain.

"These steps will help build on our system of support for those families and individuals dealing with the opioid crisis personally or professionally. Thank you to the members of the General Assembly, advocates and law-enforcement for their tireless work on this epidemic affecting far too many Delaware families."

The package of legislation addresses gaps identified by Delaware's Behavioral Health Consortium, which will tackle a range of issues, including the creation of the nation's first Overdose System of Care model to better transition individuals after an overdose or crisis from an emergency-room setting to more comprehensive treatment for their addiction.

Additional legislation, officials said, also creates better access and education to alternative therapies to opioids and improved data sharing of health information between agencies to better assess and analyze prescribing patterns.

All three bills are Year 1 priorities of the Behavioral Health Consortium, chaired by Hall-Long

"The addiction crisis ignores income, race and geography," said Hall-Long. "Delawareans deserve a treatment system that works for them when they need it most. With today's bill signing, Delaware is another step closer to creating a more comprehensive, integrated and timely treatment system from initial contact with first-responders through the entire continuum of care."

The legislative package received widespread support from many in Delaware's General Assembly, some of whom said they see the devastating impacts of addiction in their communities.

"In Delaware, we are blessed to have a small, tight-knit community that can respond quickly to challenges as daunting as the current opioid epidemic, said state Sen. Bryan Townsend. "The bills that we have signed today are the result of that spirit of partnership and cooperation. They are a positive sign for the future of addiction and chronic pain treatment in our state.

"Our constituents deserve this kind of responsive government, and I am as proud to be a part of today's signing ceremony as I will be to keep the ball rolling next year."

SB 225 encourages prescribers and patients to consider the use of proven alternative therapies instead of opioids, and requires continuing education to prescribers about the risks of opioids and benefits of alternative treatments.

"Few Delawareans have made it through the last few years without being affected by the opioid crisis in some way," said state Sen. Stephanie Hansen. "As elected officials, we are duty-bound to respond with every ounce of energy, creativity, and dedication we have to find solutions and make much-needed changes to our system of care, treatment methods and prescription practices.


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