Combatting the drug epidemic

Saying there is a drug epidemic in Delaware is not an exaggeration. Calling it a crisis is not sensationalism.

Anyone who doubts this should speak to any one of the hundreds of people in our state who have lost loved ones to overdose deaths.

How widespread is the problem? Does it just involve fentanyl, the deadliest of the drugs?

Certainly the problem we want to solve first is the one that is taking most of the lives. But the use of other drugs is also having a devastating impact on individuals, families and businesses.
The battle against drugs is being attacked by increasing public awareness of the problem, and through drug prevention programs and treatment programs.
Delaware is joining the effort to build awareness of the problem of illegal drugs through what is being called, the "Project Purple Initiative."

Delmarva Teen Challenge has been running a recovery program for men since 2008. A similar facility for women will be opening this fall.
In the 149th General Assembly a Senate Concurrent Resolution that I authored passed in the House and Senate to create the Delaware Youth Drug Prevention Curriculum Task Force.

The purpose of the Task Force is to recommend a course of action to educate our youth about the dangers of drug, alcohol, and tobacco use to reduce the chances that they will experiment with these substances.

For months I had been gathering information about what our state is doing to combat the drug addiction problem. The more I learned, the more I realized that the best way to fight the problem is through drug prevention programs.
What I learned about an evidence-based curriculum called Botvin LifeSkills Training leads me to believe that this curriculum is the best approach. The drug epidemic is raging and we need to direct every available resource to stop its spread.
Our young people deserve our best efforts.
In my research for information on drug treatment programs in Delaware, I found out there are 67 such facilities, some private and some supported by taxpayers.

I wanted the information in order to quantify the savings potential that would come from drug prevention programs.
Without a doubt, efforts to keep our young people off of drugs is much better than focusing on rehabilitation.

American statesman Frederick Douglass said, "It's easier to build strong children than to repair broken men."

The sad fact is that too many men and women have been broken.
Delmarva Teen Challenge has been running a recovery program for men since 2008. More than 200 have been set free from addiction to drugs and alcohol through the program.

Years ago, Delmarva Teen Challenge executive director Bob Carey said he was inspired to look into starting a recovery facility for women after receiving a number of inquiries about where women could go for help.

Carey's vision for such a facility is now a reality with the Home of Hope complex off Rifle Range Road near Bridgeville.
Home of Hope contains a pair of two-story dormitories, a sanctuary and an administrative office with classrooms. It provides up to 35 beds for women, whose children under the age of six may accompany them.
John Hollis worked with me and other legislators to push for funding for the Home of Hope. I was pleased to be able to collaborate with other members of the Joint Finance Committee to obtain $400,000 through grant-in-aid to help the facility open.
While the funding from the state is important, the efforts of the dozens of contractors, many of whom donated time and materials, is what made completion of the project so special. This was a remarkable community endeavor with people giving of their time and talent to help others.

We are fortunate to live in an area where compassionate people are willing to provide this second chance.
From the awareness campaign of Project Purple to the Delaware Youth Drug Prevention Curriculum Task Force to treatment programs such as Delmarva Teen Challenge, including the Home of Hope, Delawareans are doing what they can to fight the drug epidemic.
I encourage everyone to get involved in this fight.