Deadly Fentanyl adds to total

As of this week, the state has seen 159 deaths due to opioid abuse in 2017.

Many of the overdose-related deaths involve fentanyl, a synthetic painkiller up to 50 times more potent than heroin.

According to the state Division of Forensic Science, fentanyl was involved in 120 of the state’s 308 fatal overdoses in 2016. That represents a sharp increase from 2015, when fentanyl was involved in only 42 of the state’s 228 overdose deaths. In 2014, 222 people died from overdoses.

Of the 120 fentanyl-related overdose deaths in 2016, the Division of Forensic Science reported 68 deaths (57 percent) occurred in New Castle County, 36 deaths (30 percent) in Sussex County and 16 deaths (13 percent) in Kent County.

Fentanyl accounted for nearly all of the increase in deaths between 2015 and 2016.

Ninety-six of the 120 fentanyl-related overdose deaths (80 percent) involved men. The ages ranged from 17 to 64, with 71 of the 120 deaths (59 percent) involving individuals in their 30s and 40s, and the average age slightly above 38.