Sussex ‘goes Purple’ in recognition of opioid crisis

After hearing a presentation on the opioid epidemic’s impact on the county from Sussex County Health Coalition Executive Director Peggy Geisler last week, Sussex County government has decided to “Go Purple,” approving a resolution to join in the Purple Project, which is aimed at fighting the epidemic.

“Delaware is seeing firsthand the effects of the opioid epidemic, which includes the abuse of prescription pain relievers, heroin and synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl, with 345 fatal drug overdoses in the state in 2017, 64 of which occurred in Sussex County,” read the resolution. “In that same year, emergency responders in Sussex County administered overdose-reversing drugs more than 570 times to nearly 400 individuals.”

Through the resolution, Sussex County announced they would be joining with other local governments across the state, region and nation in proclaiming its support for the Purple Project, encouraging “all citizens to come together in the fight against opioid addiction.”

The resolution was approved unanimously.

At the previously week’s meeting, during which the council heard from Geisler, council members had noted that they would like to help the cause financially.

County Finance Director Gina Jennings recommended a $5,000 grant from the County-wide youth grant, for their youth prevention education program. A check was presented to the Sussex County Health Coalition that day.

The coalition is a non-profit organization whose mission is to “engage the entire community in collaborative family-focused effort to improve the health of children, youth and families in Sussex County.”

Last month, the coalition kicked off its multi-year drug-awareness and -prevention campaign in the county and throughout the state, with a visit from former NBA star Chris Herren, who himself once overdosed on heroin. Herren spoke at a community event, as well as to students in the Seaford School District.

The coalition also has a mental-health collaborative established in four school districts in the county, with the Laurel School District one that is not participating.

Currently, Botvin LifeSkills Training — an evidence-based substance abuse- and violence-prevention program used in schools and communities worldwide — is being used in other Sussex schools.

For more information on Delaware Goes Purple, visit For more information about the Sussex County Health Coalition, visit Anyone who is themselves or knows someone who is suffering from a substance-use disorder can visit for resources and programs offered throughout the state of Delaware.


By Maria Counts

Staff Reporter