COMMENTARY: Community project focusing on the Delaware drug epidemic

There is a crisis in Delaware. Is it violence, shootings, drunk driving or distracted driving? The drug addiction crisis far exceeds all of these.

The death toll is incredible. Nationally, 64,000 overdose deaths occurred in 2016. The economic toll is 504 billion dollars. Delaware ranks above the national average in overdose deaths.

In 2016, more than 300 deaths occurred. Since Rep. Tim Dukes’ successful Narcan initiative, we are still high at over 200 deaths and double that total in traffic deaths. Kent County alone has had hundreds of people overdose in 2017 and receive Narcan emergency treatment. It is buying us time, but we have to address the problem.

David L. Anderson

I have personally seen the toll around me. Hospital emergency rooms are overloaded with victims, businesspeople, lawyers, homeless people, students and seniors. People from every walk of life, every ethnicity and every income bracket are affected. I am tired of going to premature funerals or seeing families and communities broken by this devastating epidemic.

I have joined in co-founding the Vines Community Project, which is Kent County’s Drug Prevention Coalition. We launched late 2017. Pastor Carol Harris, a local Kent County pastor and medical chaplain with a Master’s in Social Work is an energetic and visionary coordinator and founder along with the Delaware National Guard Counter Drug Task Force

We have endeavored to bring together the community to build upon unified strength and outreach. We are building upon a model of 12 sectors so every segment of the county is reached. We have behavior health, youth outreach, faith-based groups, business owners, entrepreneurs, college students, Dover Police Department, government officials such as Kent Count Levy Court Commissioner Jim Hosfelt, Rep. Andria Bennett, and myself.

We have people who work in the mental health field, like former school board member Cheryl Precourt, NAACP Vice Chair Donyale Hall and IMA Social Action committee members, Bayhealth, Capital School District and Caesar Rodney School District board members as well as their assistant superintendents. Local residents and other stakeholders participate in one part or another and we are partnering with Sussex and Middletown coalitions.

Our first project was to distribute hundreds of bags, which allow for recipients to just add water and safely dispose of excess prescription medication in an environmentally safe fashion. We are working with Dover PD to publicize drug disposal and the Angel program where addicts can get help 24/7.

We had free Narcan training. The Counter Drug Task force has free summer programs that you can find more information about by contacting We have several more initiatives in the planning stage.

Now the biggest push yet for this young organization, we want to turn Kent County Purple. The Purple Project Initiative is a national initiate of The Herren Project founded by former NBA star Chris Herren. It is a comprehensive program to bring awareness to education and treatment opportunities in our community.

Our goal is have a week where all of Kent County is sharing with one another the resources available and thinking about the next steps to deal with this crisis. The week of September 9, we want Kent County to focus on the issue.

All we need to make our team complete is you! The Vines Community Project meets every third Thursday at 6 p.m. at the City Hall Conference Room.

We are looking for you to join us. I also invite you to go to our Facebook page @vinescommunityproject, like it and message us to join the working group or email us You may also reach out to any of the members named.

We as a community need to address this problem. It is too complex for any one of us to solve, but if we join together with a united purpose, we can impact it much like we did with tobacco. Together we were able to see tobacco use at half what it was 20 years ago.

Please join us. I hope your business, church, family or organization will be a part of this new wave to bring hope and education to our state.

EDITOR’S NOTE: David L. Anderson is a 4th District Dover city councilman.

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