- Associated Press - Sunday, May 22, 2016

WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) - Some Delaware residents are going elsewhere to fight drug addictions due to a lack of services in the state.

Marc Blum tells The News Journal (https://delonline.us/259QJpB ) that he violated his probation and went to Florida because he couldn’t get treatment for his heroin addiction in Delaware. Marc Blum’s mother, Karen Blum, says she doesn’t believe her 24-year-old son would have survived if he didn’t leave the state.

“I can hear a difference in him today. But I can tell you, he was not going to get what he got in Florida,” Karen Blum said. “My son would have died here. I’m convinced of that.”

Nearly 230 people died of drug-related overdoses in Delaware last year.

Delaware recently increased the number of residential treatment beds from 78 to 95 but has struggled to keep up with demand. Families of people who struggle with drug addiction say they’re sometimes forced to seek help in out-of-state facilities.

Rita Landgraf, secretary of the Department of Health and Social Services, says the state is planning to double the number of residential treatment beds for young people. It’s also seeking to double number of beds in homes where addicts live together and support one another.

She says in addition to funding more inpatient treatment beds, the state needs to improve the services available to addicts as they scale back their treatment.

“We should be supportive of this disease based on what we know from watching it for decades and the probability of remission,” Landgraf said. “You don’t treat it with punitive measures. We don’t do that for any other disease so why are we doing it with this one?”

A new program announced Friday by the New Castle County police and other officials hopes to make treatment more accessible.

Under the program, 10 beds in a detoxification center will be set aside to help people arrested on low-level charges who need addiction treatment. If they finish the treatment, the charges against them will be dropped.

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Information from: The News Journal of Wilmington, Del., https://www.delawareonline.com

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