Opioid deaths in SC increase for 4th year in a row

State - Regional

COLUMBIA, SC (WSPA)- Opioid related deaths in South Carolina have once again increased for another year in a row from this time in 2017 to last year.

From 2017 to 2018 opioid overdose deaths increased from 748 to 816, an increase that has lawmakers and the state agencies questioning what’s next.

Sara Goldsby, the director of the Department of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Services, says the agency expected to see an increase based on past data and trends. “We expected there was going to be an increase and we were right.”

Representative Chris Wooten serves on the House Opioid Prevention Study Committee. The Midlands lawmaker reacted to the recently released data concerning the epidemic in the state.

“The largest population dying is between the ages 35-44. Those are our parents of elementary and middle school children.”

From 2014 to 2018 opioid related deaths increased from 508 to 816.

In response to the growing crisis, lawmakers and state agencies have implemented several programs and introduced new programs that have increased the number of people in treatment.

“People are recovering. The interventions are there. The Naloxone administrations are higher. We know we’re keeping people alive,” added Goldsby.

Both lawmakers and state agencies like DAODAS say the data shows there is still work to do in the fight against the drug.

Goldsby explained, “We need to look at the counties that have the highest rates and target more resources into those counties.”

“We still haven’t gotten to the underlying issues one being doctors prescribing opioids too often,” added Representative Wooten.

Out of the three major metro areas (Charleston, Columbia and Greenville) Greenville saw an increase in opioid related deaths by almost 80%. In 2017 there were 73 opioid related deaths in Greenville, in 2018 there were 131.

Richland County actually saw a decrease in opioid involved deaths. In Charleston there was a slight increase from 94 deaths in 2017 to 100 last year.

See all the numbers and read the full report HERE.

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