COLUMBIA, SC (WSPA) — State officials and a national nonprofit group have launched a new personalized text messaging program that they say will help curb opioid misuse in South Carolina.

The free RxAware program aims to educate people about the many non-opioid pain relievers that are available and offers ways to reduce the risks associated with prescription opioid medications.

The South Carolina Department of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Services joined with the Partnership to End Addiction to launch the RXAware program.

“In South Carolina, an opioid prescription is filled every nine seconds, and opioid dependency can develop in just three days, DAODAS director Sara Goldsby said in a release. “Because of their highly addictive nature, individuals should not be afraid to ask about ways to manage their pain that do not involve prescription opioids.  Some of these options may actually work better and have fewer risks and side effects.”

Statewide statistics for 2020 reveal that there were 1,400 deaths and 7,830 opioid-related overdose hospitalizations involving opioids in South Carolina.

RxAware educates parents, caregivers and individuals about opioid medication safety and nonaddictive pain relievers. After texting RXAWARE to 55753, you answer a short series of questions about your own – or a loved one’s – pain management needs. You will then receive personalized messages vetted by health professionals that provide educational information, resources and actionable support.

“As a country, we are shattering record after record for overdose deaths. We need to do everything we can to reverse this epidemic,” said Marcia Lee Taylor, chief external and government relations officer at Partnership to End Addiction. “Our RxAware tool will empower people with information about alternatives to opioids for pain management as well as what they can do to prevent addiction and overdose.  Knowledge is power, and we are grateful to our partners who are helping us to reach families around the country.”

According to DAODAS, RxAware will help existing efforts in South Carolina to combat the opioid epidemic, such as the multi-agency S.C. Opioid Emergency Response Team and Just Plain Killers, the DAODAS public education campaign to raise awareness about the effects of opioid misuse in the state.

With support from Walmart, RxAware is rolling out this summer in South Carolina, Idaho, Kentucky, North Carolina and Tennessee.