ROCK HILL, S.C. (CN2 NEWS) – The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control, also known as DHEC reminding families its Overdose Safety Kits are available at health departments for loved ones this holiday season and beyond, adding Opioids, including fentanyl, continue to be the primary cause of overdose deaths in recent years in the state.
With that York County Coroner, Sabrina Gast spoke with CN2’s Renee O’Neil on Wednesday saying so far in 2023 preliminary numbers show 118 overdose deaths, many related to Fentanyl.
Compare that to 2022, there were 111 overdose deaths.
Gast adds overdoses happen throughout the year, but with family members coming home for the holidays there are a few reminders she would like you to know.
“If you have prescription medication, put those away. If you got some families coming in from out of town, maybe looking for those drugs, and if you have them laying out, they can certainly access them that way. We have drop boxes throughout the county, all of the law enforcement agencies have drop boxes. It is free of charge to take those prescriptions medicines there. So once your prescriptions is completed we urge you to put the in the drop boxes. There’s no questions asked”, says Gast.
Gast and her team plan to continue to educate communities in the 2024 year about drug trends in their neighborhoods.
Information is below from DHEC about “OD Safety Kits”.
COLUMBIA, S.C. ― As the holiday season continues, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) is highlighting the availability of Overdose (OD) Safety Kits at health departments across the state.
Each OD Safety Kit available at DHEC health departments contains two doses of the opioid-antidote medication naloxone, five fentanyl test strips, educational materials on how to use both and guidance for how to identify an opioid overdose. The naloxone in the kits is a nasal spray that can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose, potentially saving a person’s life. The fentanyl test strips are small strips of paper that can detect the presence of fentanyl, a deadly synthetic opioid, in different types of drugs.
“While the holidays are joyful times for many, for others this time of year can lead to stress, isolation and depression. These feelings can lead to increased risk for substance abuse,” said Dr. Edward Simmer, DHEC Director. “We encourage anyone with loved ones who struggle during the holidays to stop by their DHEC health department to pick up a free OD Safety Kit to have on hand. We are hopeful that the availability of these kits will help prevent untimely deaths, allowing South Carolinians struggling with substance use to recover and go on to live longer, healthier lives.” At this time, DHEC is able to provide two kits per person while supplies last.
At this time, DHEC is able to provide two kits per person while supplies last.
The availability of naloxone and fentanyl test strips are critical as drug overdose deaths continue to rise in South Carolina. From 2020 to 2021, the total number of drug overdose deaths in South Carolina increased by more than 25%, from 1,734 deaths to 2,168. By comparison, there were only 573 drug overdose deaths in the state in 2012.
Opioids, including fentanyl, continue to be the primary cause of overdose deaths in recent years, contributing to 1,733 of the 2,168 fatal overdoses in 2021. In addition to the OD Safety Kits available now at DHEC health departments, the South Carolina Department of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse (DAODAS) manages a statewide network of Naloxone Community Distributors where residents can receive free doses of naloxone, fentanyl test strips and educational materials.
“DHEC’s OD Safety Kits play an important role in our efforts to reduce overdose deaths in South Carolina,” said DAODAS Director Sara Goldsby. “Although the primary goal is for our family, friends and neighbors with opioid and other substance use disorders to seek help from local treatment providers, it is still vital that naloxone and test strips are available to help prevent overdoses in the meantime. These prevention tools should also be made accessible to anyone who uses drugs, caregivers and other individuals who might unknowingly be exposed to the deadly drug fentanyl.”
To check the availability of OD Safety Kits at a DHEC health department, find contact information for calling ahead at scdhec.gov. To find free naloxone doses and fentanyl test strips available at other Community Distributors, visit justplainkillers.com. For services to treat addiction, visit daodas.sc.gov or embracerecoverysc.com.
Learn how to recognize the signs of an overdose and how to administer naloxone nasal spray with an instructional video at scdhec.gov/cope.