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SC opioid overdose cases up 53%, typically spike during holiday season

While non-fatal overdoses are spiking, the CDC also says overdose deaths in South Carolina are...
While non-fatal overdoses are spiking, the CDC also says overdose deaths in South Carolina are up 53% from 2020.(Storyblocks)
Published: Dec. 29, 2021 at 5:59 AM EST|Updated: Dec. 29, 2021 at 5:24 PM EST
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - In the middle of a nationwide opioid epidemic, new data from the CDC show an increase in non-fatal opioid overdoses during the month of December, peaking on New Year’s Eve.

While non-fatal overdoses are spiking, the CDC also says overdose deaths in South Carolina are up 53% from 2020.

NEED HELP WITH DRUG ABUSE PREVENTION AND REHABILITATION? Click here to reach out to the Charleston County’s Department of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Services’ Charleston Center.

“We always end up seeing people who have depression, anxiety, seasonal connected issues in the sense that holidays are really difficult for people with depression or underlying anxiety,” Trident Emergency Department Executive Director Kenneth Perry said.

“When you add that to a person who might not have the coping mechanism, and opiates are their coping mechanism, then this ends up being a problem that we do see quite regularly,” Perry said.

The most recent data from the South Carolina Department of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Services from 2019 show that several Lowcountry counties make the top 10 list for overdose deaths and hospitalizations. Those counties include:

  • Charleston
  • Georgetown
  • Williamsburg
  • Jasper
  • Orangeburg
  • Colleton

Narcan, a drug used to almost immediately reverse the effects of overdoses, is recommended to have on hand by the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control.

Perry said that as the opioid crisis gets worse, however, stronger opiates laced with other drugs pose a challenge to Narcan, making the reversal of an overdose even more difficult.

“So, in times where you might need one dose of Narcan, in some cases people will now need three or four,” Perry said.

Narcan is a temporary fix to a larger drug abuse problem, according to Perry, and people abusing drugs should seek out rehabilitation programs

Even then, Perry said there is a lack of rehabilitation options, and when there are programs in place, they are often very expensive.

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