Not seeking timely care for drug or alcohol addiction can have severe and far-reaching consequences. The physical and mental health of a substance user can deteriorate rapidly. Substance abuse takes a huge toll on the body, leading to an increased risk of organ damage, infectious diseases, and overdose, including death. In addition, substance abuse and addiction often coexist with mental health disorders, which can exacerbate the symptoms and create a vicious cycle. Personal relationships suffer greatly as trust is lost, communication breaks down, and loved ones are left feeling helpless and frustrated. Neglecting addiction treatment also puts drug users and their families at risk of financial distress due to job loss, legal issues, and mounting debt. Without timely care, drug or alcohol addiction can spiral out of control, leading to profound negative consequences on a person’s health, relationships, professional life, and overall well-being.
If you are a loved one is battling substance abuse, it is imperative that you seek care at a professional rehabilitation facility. Calling a Delaware drug hotline is a critical first step in this endeavor. The National Drug Helpline is a toll-free 24/7 hotline that you can access by dialing 1-844-289-0879. We provide round-the-clock support to people struggling with drug or alcohol abuse.
Our Delaware alcohol and drug helpline is staffed by helpful, compassionate, and knowledgeable operators who understand the complexities of addiction. The helpline is therefore a safe and non-judgmental space to express concerns, ask questions, and obtain up-to-date information. Call us today to find drug and alcohol treatment options in your Delaware community, including Wilmington, Dover, Newark, Middletown, Smyrna, and others. Gain access to various resources and information specific to your local area, such as treatment facilities, counseling centers, and support groups.
DELAWARE SUBSTANCE ABUSE RESOURCES
- Delaware Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health
- Delaware Alcoholics Anonymous
- Delaware Marijuana Control Act
- Delaware DUI Laws
SUBSTANCE ABUSE IN DELAWARE
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reports the following with regards to substance use in Delaware: 
- Past-month marijuana use was reported by 9.1% of adolescents aged 12-17 years in 2017-2019 compared to 8.1% in 2002-2004. During a similar timeframe, the US national average decreased from 7.9% in 2002-2004 to 6.8% in 2017-2019.
- Past-month alcohol use was reported by 9.7% of youth aged 12-17 years in 2017-2019 compared to 17.6% in 2002-2004. The US national average changed from 17.6% in 2002-2004 to 9.4% in 2017-2019.
- Past-month illicit drug use was reported by 9.7% of adolescents in Delaware aged 12-17 years in 2017-2019 compared to 8.7% in 2015-2017. The US national average stayed stable at 8.2% for this timeframe.
- Past-year initiation of substances (first lifetime use) was reported by youth aged 12-17 years as follows during 2017-2019: Alcohol 9.9% (US average 9.3%), marijuana 4.3% (US average 5.2%), and cigarettes 1.9% (US average 2.3%).
Therefore, while alcohol use has shown a promising downward trend, both marijuana use and illicit drug use among Delaware youth has increased and is higher than the US national average. The data for young adults is as follows:
- Past-year marijuana use was reported by 39.3% of young adults aged 18-25 years in Delaware in 2017-2019 compared to 32.6% in 2002-2004. During a similar timeframe, the US national average increased from 28.7% in 2002-2004 to 35.0% in 2017-2019.
- Past-year marijuana use disorder was reported in 7.2% of young adults aged 18-25 years in 2017-2019, compared to 5.5% in 2002-2004. The US national average changed from 6.0% in 2002-2004 to 5.6% in 2017-2019.
- Past-year opioid use disorder was reported in 1.0% of young adults aged 18-25 years in Delaware in 2017-2019 compared to 1.9% in 2015-2017. The US national average changed from 1.3% in 2015-2017 to 1.0% in 2017-2019.
- Past-year illicit drug use disorder was reported in 8.7% of Delaware residents aged 18-25 years in 2017-2019, compared to 8.1% in 2015-2017. The US national average hovered around 7.2-7.5% during this timeframe.
- Past-month binge alcohol use was reported by 35.1% of young adults aged 18-25 years in 2017-2019 compared to 38.2% in 2015-2017. The US national average in 2017-2019 was 35.4% showing binge alcohol use in Delaware is around the same as the country as a whole.
- Past-year alcohol use disorder among young adults aged 18-25 was reported in 11.1% of Delaware residents in 2017-2019, compared to 18.1% in 2002-2004. The US national average for 2017-2019 was 9.8%. Delaware therefore showed a higher percentage of young adults battling alcohol use disorder compared to the national average.
- Past-year substance use disorder was reported in 17.0% of young adults aged 18-25 in Delaware in 2017-2019 compared to 15.7% in 2015-2017.
In addition, the Behavioral Health Barometer also found the following for 2017-2019 in Delaware residents aged 12 years and older:
- Past-year marijuana use: 17.2% (US average 16.2%)
- Past-year marijuana use disorder: 1.9% (US average 1.6%)
- Past-year heroin use: 1.27% (US average 0.30%)
- Past-year prescription painkiller misuse: 3.6% (US average 3.7%)
- Past-year opioid use disorder: 1.5% (US average 0.7%)
- Past-year illicit drug use disorder: 3.8% (US average 2.9%)
- Past-year alcohol use disorder: 6.9% (US average 5.3%)
- Past-year substance use disorder: 9.6% (US average 7.4%)
- Number of people enrolled in substance use treatment (single day counts for 2019): 17,307
- Number of people enrolled in opioid treatment programs (single day counts for 2019): 5,153
- Problems among people enrolled in treatment: 57.0% drug problem only, 8.9% alcohol problem only, 34.1% both drug and alcohol problems
UNIQUE CHALLENGES REGARDING SUBSTANCE ABUSE IN DELAWARE
Drug Trafficking Hub
Delaware, despite being one of the smallest states in the United States, faces certain unique challenges when it comes to fighting substance abuse. Located on the East Coast, Delaware is an important transit hub for drug traffickers, making the state susceptible to the inflow of illicit substances. Delaware’s geographical proximity to major cities such as Philadelphia and Baltimore adds to the problem. The influx of drugs from these urban areas contributes to the easier availability of drugs and prevalence of substance abuse in Delaware. Additionally, the state’s small size makes it easier for drug-related activities to go unnoticed and spread quickly within communities.
There are other factors that contribute to the prevalence of substance abuse in the state, including higher rates of marijuana use, heroin use, alcohol use disorder, and substance use disorder than the national average.
Like the rest of the country, one of the primary challenges that Delaware faces is the opioid crisis. The state has been significantly impacted by the opioid epidemic with high rates of opioid-related deaths and overdoses. In 2021, there were 515 confirmed drug overdose deaths in Delaware with 83% attributed to fentanyl, a synthetic opioid painkiller that is up to 100 times more powerful than morphine. 
The accessibility of prescription painkillers and the transition to cheaper and more potent drugs like heroin and fentanyl have fueled the opioid crisis. Delaware’s opioid prescribing rate of 45.2 per 100 people is higher than the national average of 43.3.  In addition, the state’s small population makes it challenging to effectively address the true scale of the problem.
Another unique challenge is the high rate of underage drinking and alcohol abuse. Nearly 1 in 3 young adults reports binge drinking behavior. Delaware is also struggling with excessive alcohol consumption with nearly 7% of the state’s population having alcohol use disorder.  There are strict laws against underage drinking by people below 21 years of age, use of false IDs, underage individuals entering bars or package stores, or provision of alcohol to a minor. There is also a zero-tolerance law for underage DUI with a loss of license or $200 fine (if unlicensed) for first-time offenders. 
However, factors such as easy access to alcohol, lack of enforcement of underage drinking laws, and a culture that often tolerates heavy drinking, contribute to high levels of alcohol use in people under the age of 21. The consequences of underage drinking can range from poor academic performance to impaired decision-making and risky behaviors.
In addition to the above, the state faces challenges in terms of access to substance abuse treatment and prevention services. Delaware has a shortage of specialized drug and alcohol rehabilitation facilities and healthcare professionals who specialize in addiction treatment as well as lack of visibility for providers to determine the current availability of places in inpatient and residential treatment centers. Limited resources and long wait times for treatment often prevent individuals in need from seeking timely help, exacerbating the severity of substance abuse.
The stigma surrounding substance abuse and addiction can be a significant barrier to obtaining timely care. Many people are reluctant to seek treatment due to fear of judgment and social consequences. Overcoming this stigma and promoting a supportive environment for those struggling with substance abuse is crucial to addressing drug and alcohol abuse in the state. A comprehensive approach is needed, involving prevention, education, increased access to treatment, and community support to effectively combat substance abuse in Delaware.
- SAMHSA. Behavioral Health Barometer Delaware. Available online. Accessed on July 10, 2023.
- Delaware News. Monthly Suspected Overdose Deaths Continue to Rise, Hit Record High for January 2021. Available online. Accessed on July 10, 2023.
- Delaware News. DHSS Marks Milestone of 100,000 Referrals for Substance Use, Mental Health Services. Available online. Accessed on July 10, 2023.
- Delaware Office of Highway Safety. Underage Drinking Will Cost You. Available online. Accessed on July 10, 2023.
Last updated: July 25, 2023