Jasper County News
South Carolina Opiod Emegency Response Team
CONTACT: TOMMY CROSBY or DERREC BECKER
Opioid-involved overdose deaths increased in 2018
Columbia, S.C. – From 2017 to 2018, the number of opioid-involved overdose deaths increased in the Palmetto State, according to data collected by the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control. During a meeting today of the state’s Opioid Emergency Response Team (OERT), officials announced that from 2017 to 2018, the total number of deaths related to opioid overdose increased by 9%, from 748 to 816.
“This news shows that the opioid epidemic continues to devastate South Carolinians and their families, but it will not discourage us in our fight to eradicate it from our communities,” said Gov. Henry McMaster. “From the Opioid Emergency Response Team to the men and women who work and volunteer in addiction services every day, Team South Carolina will continue to work to provide evidence-based treatment to those who are suffering and to educate younger generations on the devastating effects of opioid addiction.”
The total number of prescription drug-involved overdose deaths, which include non-opioid drugs, increased by 10%, from 782 deaths in 2017 to 863 in 2018. Heroin-involved overdose deaths saw an increase of 17%, from 144 to 168 deaths. Fentanyl-involved overdose deaths saw the largest increase – 27% – from 362 to 460 deaths between 2017 and 2018. Deaths due to methadone were also up 27% from 45 deaths in 2017 to 57 deaths, although methadone-involved overdose deaths were down 28% overall from 2014 (79 deaths), which is consistent with national trends, as methadone is used for the treatment of opioid use disorder. Cocaine-involved and psychostimulant-involved (i.e., methamphetamine and amphetamine) overdose deaths increased by 8% (235 in 2017 to 254 in 2018) and 25% (194 in 2017 to 242 in 2018) respectively, continuing the rapid increase among reported psychostimulant-involved deaths (88% increase since 2016).
“Every person and organization diligently working to help solve the opioid crisis impacting our State recognize it will take time before we see substantial positive impacts,” said Nick Davidson, DHEC Acting Director of Public Health. “Our resolve and commitment remains strong and each partner in this fight understands it will take all of us to make a difference.”
Of the three major metropolitan areas (Charleston, Greenville and Richland counties), only Greenville saw a significant increase from 2017 to 2018 in opioid-involved deaths (up 79.5% from 73 in 2017 to 131 in 2018). Charleston saw a slight increase (up 6.4% from 94 deaths in 2017 to 100 deaths in 2018), and Richland saw a substantial decrease in opioid-involved overdose deaths (down 28.2%, from 71 in 2017 to 51 in 2018). Efforts around response and prevention, such as unified task forces and coalitions, may have contributed to the decline in the overdose death rates among the various counties across the state.
“This addiction crisis has been developing over two decades, so we are not going to turn it around overnight,” said Sara Goldsby, Director of the S.C. Department of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Services. “Still, our agency and the Response Team remain focused on the use of evidence-based solutions like medication-assisted treatment and ensuring that naloxone is readily available. We know these approaches are working. But there is so much more to do, especially as this crisis evolves and we see more use of stimulants like amphetamines.”
The new 2018 data will be available on the map-based data portal that is part of the state’s opioid crisis education campaign website, justplainkillers.com/data/, which displays opioid-related mortality data and is searchable by county. The full data report produced by DHEC and executive summary will also be accessible through the website. The data displayed is provided as part of the OERT collaboration including DAODAS, DHEC and others.
The South Carolina Opioid Emergency Response Team is a collaborative effort created by executive order issued by Governor Henry McMaster. The OERT is comprised of state and local agencies with expertise in substance use disorders and treatment, public health and medical affairs, emergency response and planning, as well as law enforcement coordination and strategy. For more information, visit justplainkillers.com.