‘The downside is death’: Drug overdose deaths on the rise in Horry County

Grand Strand

MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) — Drug overdose deaths in Horry County are rising, according to the Horry County Coroner’s Office.

Horry County Coroner Robert Edge estimated 145 deaths in the county in 2020 resulting from drug overdoses. Through the end of June, 81 people have died from drug overdoses. Edge said there are an additional 26 suspected cases that are waiting confirmation.

“I think we’re on track to see a record year for drug overdoses,” Edge said. “By the time we finish the year, we’ll be way above last year.”

John Coffin, executive director at Shoreline Behavioral Health Services, said fentanyl was involved in a large portion of the overdose deaths in the county.

“About 75% of the overdoses [last year] were fentanyl involved,” Coffin said.

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid pain-killing drug that is between 50 to 100 times more powerful than morphine, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Edge echoes Coffin and said fentanyl is often found in combination with other drugs in toxicology reports.

“Usually those combinations involve fentanyl, some heroin, or cocaine,” Edge said. “We’re seeing some benzodiazepines showing up, but they’re usually in a combination of fentanyl or meth — one of the two.”

Edge said more needs to be done to alert people of the dangers of these drugs.

“I think that the governments and the communities need to work on more education to educate people as to what the downside is to taking these drugs, and the downside is death,” Edge said.

Shoreline Behavioral Health Services in Conway offers prevention programs aimed at school-aged children and helps people battling addiction with medication-assisted treatment. Coffin said the first step to getting help is realization.

“The person has to have already started saying to themselves ‘I think this could be a problem for me,’” Coffin said. “Those are the people that tend to call us up and say ‘What can you do to help this?’”

Shoreline offers Narcan, used to treat suspected drug overdoses in emergencies, to anyone completely free of charge and hosts prescription drug take-back events.

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