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Mental Health & Substance Use



How are Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Connected?

According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, "many individuals who develop substance use disorders (SUD) are also diagnosed with mental disorders, and vice versa. Multiple national population surveys have found that about half of those who experience a mental illness during their lives will also experience a substance use disorder and vice versa."1

Why is the SUD crisis important Delawareans?

By drug overdose death rates alone, the substance use disorder crisis continues to escalate. The rate of drug overdose deaths has increased from 6.7 per 100,000 to 48.4 per 100,000 in 2019, which is a seven-fold increase. Delaware has the second highest drug overdose death rate in the country with an age-adjusted drug overdose mortality rate of 48.4 per 100,000 in 2019. All three counties have rates higher than the national rate.

What is Delaware doing to address the crisis?

Delaware's monthly prescription rate of 33 per 1,000 persons in December 2019 was above the national average, but rates have been declining. Beginning with the launch of the Prescription Monitoring Program in 2012, Delaware has been working to address this crisis. Since then "Help is Here" was launched, community access to naloxone has been expanded, legislation to continue to support these efforts was passed, life-saving information has been distributed to the public through the OpiRescue App, and surveillance report data has been released to the public to further highlight the continued need for action.

Finding Support

Mental Heath Support

In a mental health crisis support is here.

For anonymous conversation: Text DE to 741741 for the Crisis Text Line. Call: 1-800-273-TALK (8255) to National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

For in-person evaluation: If under 18, call: 1-800-969-HELP (4357) If over 18, call: 1-800-652-2929 in New Castle 1-800-969-4357 in Kent/Sussex

Substance Use Disorder Support

Are you or a loved one looking for substance abuse treatment?

Delaware has resources available.

Key Data and Reports

Mental Health & Substance Use

Data are current as of 2023

Here, we highlight one key statistic from each topic. Click a table row to see more detailed data for the statistic. Or click on a link under "Topic Page" to view a statistic's corresponding topic page.

Table Key
Topic Page

Sussex County

% Change
Adult Excessive Drinking

Adults who Engage in Binge Drinking

percentage of adults


Decreased 19.6%(2012 - 2019)
Drug Overdose Deaths


age-adjusted rate per 100,000 residents

Mental Health


percentage of adults


Increased 24.3%(2012 - 2019)
Prescription Monitoring Program

People who filled opioid and benzodiazepine prescriptions in the same month.

rate per 100 people


Decreased 66.7%(2012 - 2023)


age-adjusted rate per 100,000 residents


Increased 22.6%(2011 - 2020)
Suspected Non-fatal Drug Overdoses

Suspected Non-Fatal Drug Overdoses

age-adjusted rate per 10,000 people


Decreased 40.5%(2016 - 2020)
Tobacco Use

Tobacco Use

percentage of youth

Youth Substance Use

Prescription Pill Abuse

percentage of youth

Youth Use of Prescription Pain Meds without Prescription

Youth Self-Reported Use of Prescription Pain Meds without Prescription

percentage of respondents


Decreased 44.4%(2011 - 2018)

Investigative Stories

Insights from the 2014-2018 Delaware Suicide Surveillance Study

Mental Health & Substance Use Disorder

Insights from the 2014-2018 Delaware Suicide Surveillance Study

Date published: April 2022 Read the story
Delaware's Opioid Crisis

Mental Health & Substance Use Disorder

Delaware's Opioid Crisis

Date published: January 2020 Read the story

Additional Information

Mental Health & Substance Use in Sussex County

COVID-19 and Mental Health

What are the impacts of COVID-19 on mental health?

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a negative impact on mental health throughout the United States. The CDC reported that US adults reported elevated levels of adverse mental health conditions, substance use, and suicidal ideation as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. 2

CDC analyses of high school students found that, in 2021, more than a third (37%) of high school students reported they experienced poor mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic, and 44% reported they persistently felt sad or hopeless during the past year.3


In releasing this information, Delaware aims to provide information that can be helpful to local communities as they work to improve public health. However, the protection of the confidentiality of our citizens is of paramount importance. To that end, counts of less than 11 are not presented, and the rate is not calculated for counts of less than 20. An outside expert has reviewed the platform to ensure it complies with the HIPAA privacy rule (45 CFR 164.§514(b)).