Rep. Short: Government needs to help religious groups battling addiction

State Rep. Danny Short

GEORGETOWN — Speaking to the Sussex County Health Coalition in Georgetown, State House Minority Leader Danny Short, R-Seaford, said it is time for government to work with religious organizations trying to turn the tide in Delaware’s war against addiction.

Calling the pervasive opioid addiction epidemic “a tragedy,” Rep. Short shared with coalition members some of his experiences as a first responder with the Seaford Volunteer Fire Company over more than three decades.

“I was there at Third & North when Pastor Dickie Ross’ son was shot dead in a drug deal.  I’ve been at Coverdale Crossroads … when we’ve transported [an addict to the hospital], and we’ve had to make the decision on whether we remove the needle from the arm,” he said.

Rep. Short noted that Seaford has been especially hard hit by addiction and illicit drug use, being labeled in one national news report as “Crack Alley.”  Still, he says progress has been made, in part because of the active intervention of religious organizations.

He said, “government needs to get off its butt” and stop blocking aid to successful programs battling addiction just because they are affiliated with religious groups.   “Dollars are dollars, and money is money, and if it is going to resources [helping the community], it doesn’t matter to me whether you are a Catholic, like myself, Jewish, a Lutheran, or whatever.”

Rep. Short said he is proud to have worked closely with the Sussex County Health Coalition and supports their ongoing efforts to launch Seaford Goes Purple this September – a national initiative that helps students to meet life’s challenges without using drugs and alcohol.

Highlighting the prevalent nature of the addiction problem, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) last month released data from emergency departments showing substantial increases in opioid overdose numbers nationwide.  The CDC’s Vital Signs report noted that visits for suspected opioid overdoses increased 30 percent from July 2016 to September 2017.

Of 16 states participating in enhanced data surveillance, Delaware reported the second-highest percent increase for suspected opioid overdose emergency visits during the period studied (105 percent).  The

First State reported 2,075 suspected overdose-related emergency visits: 1,529 in New Castle County; 355 in Sussex County; and 191 in Kent County.

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