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Delaware Opioid Summary

Revised March 2019

Opioid-Related Overdose Deaths

Delaware is among the top ten states with the highest opioid-involved drug overdose deaths in the U.S. In 2017, there were 250 overdose deaths­­­ involving opioids in Delaware—a rate of 27.8 deaths per 100,000 persons compared to the average national rate of 14.6 deaths per 100,000 persons. The greatest rise occured among deaths involving synthetic opioids other than methadone (mainly fentanyl), with a thirteenfold increase from 13 cases in 2011 to 178 cases in 2017 (Figure 1). In the same 6-year period, heroin-involved deaths surged from 15 to 121 cases. Overdose deaths involving prescription opioid-involved deaths remained level during this period but rose in the past year from 41 cases in 2016 to 78 cases in 2017.

See textFigure 1. Number of overdose deaths involving opioids in Delaware, by opioid category. Drug categories presented are not mutually exclusive, and deaths might have involved more than one substance.Source: CDC WONDER.

Opioid Pain Reliever Prescriptions

The opioid prescribing rate in Delaware has decreased by more than 30 percent from 101.1 opioid prescriptions per 100 persons in 2010 to 68.3 opioid prescriptions for every 100 persons in 2017 (Figure 2). The average U.S. rate in 2017 was 58.7 prescriptions per 100 persons (CDC).

The rate of overdose deaths involving opioid prescriptions nearly doubled from 4.4 deaths per 100,000 persons in 2016 to 8.7 deaths per 100,000 persons in 2017. 

See textFigure 2. Delaware rate of overdose deaths involving prescription opioids and the opioid prescribing rate. Source: CDC and CDC WONDER.

Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS)

NAS or neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome (NOWS) may occur when a pregnant woman uses drugs such as opioids during pregnancy. A recent national study revealed a fivefold increase in the incidence of NAS/NOWS between 2004 and 2014, from 1.5 cases per 1,000 hospital births to 8.0 cases per 1,000 hospital births. This is the equivalent of one baby born with symptoms of NAS/NOWS every 15 minutes in the United States. During the same period, hospital costs for NAS/NOWS births increased from $91 million to $563 million, after adjusting for inflation (Figure 3).

To date, there is no standard in NAS/NOWS provider and hospital coding practices (CDC). As a result, there is variability in trends and in the rate reported by states. There is no recent available data on the rate or number of babies born with NAS/NOWS in the state of Delaware.

See textFigure 3. NAS/NOWS Incidence rate and hospital costs for treatment in the United States. Source: T.N.A. Winkelman, et al., 2018.

HIV Prevalence and HIV Diagnoses Attributed to Injection Drug Use (IDU)

See text Figure 4. Delaware: Estimated percent of male vs. female with new HIV diagnoses, by transmission category, 2016. Source: CDC and www.AIDSVU.org.
  • U.S. Incidence: In 2016, 9 percent (3,480) of the 39,589 new diagnoses of HIV in the United States were attributed to IDU. Among males, 6.3 percent (2,530) of new cases were transmitted via IDU or male-to-male contact and IDU. Among females, 2.3 percent (950) were transmitted via IDU (CDC).
  • U.S. Prevalence: In 2016, 991,447 Americans were living with a diagnosed HIV infection—a rate of 306.6 cases per 100,000 persons. Among males, 19.9 percent (150,4661) contracted HIV from IDU or male-to-male contact and IDU while 21 percent (50,154) of females were living with HIV attributed to IDU (CDC).
  • State Incidence: Of the new HIV cases in 2016, 117 occurred in Delaware. Among males, 6.6 percent of new HIV cases were attributed to IDU or male-to-male contact and IDU. There were no reports of new HIV cases transmitted via IDU among women (Figure 4) (AIDSVu).
  • State Prevalence: In 2015, an estimated 3,230 persons were living with a diagnosed HIV infection in Delaware—a rate of 404 cases per 100,000 persons. Of those, 25.0 percent of cases among males were attributed to IDU or male-to-male contact and IDU. Among females, 25.4 percent were living with HIV attributed to IDU (AIDSVu).

Hepatitis C (HCV) Prevalence and HCV Diagnoses Attributed to Injection Drug Use1

  • U.S. Incidence: In 2016, there were an estimated 41,200 new cases of acute HCV2 (CDC). Among case reports that contain information about IDU, 68.6 percent indicated use of injection drugs (CDC).
  • U.S. Prevalence: An estimated 2.4 million Americans are living with HCV based on 2013-2016 annual averages (CDC).
  • State Incidence: There were approximately 25 new cases of acute HCV (2.6 per 100,000 persons) reported in Delaware in 2016 (CDC).
  • State Prevalence: In Delaware, there are an estimated 6,400 persons living with Hepatitis C (2013-2016 annual average), a rate of 880 cases per 100,000 persons (HepVu).

Additional Resources

NIH RePORTER FY2018 NIH-funded projects related to opioid use and use disorder in Delaware: 0


  1. Not all states collect or report data on the incidence or prevalence of Hepatitis C or on how Hepatitis C is transmitted. When available, the data will be included.
  2. Actual acute cases are estimated to be 13.9 times the number of reported cases in any year.

This page was last updated March 2019

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