International Overdose Awareness Day: Julia’s Story

ROCK HILL, S.C. (CN2 NEWS) – Today, August 31st is National Overdose Awareness Way.
State figures show a disturbing increase in drug overdose deaths involving the drug, Fentanyl.

From 2019 to 2020, drug overdose deaths involving fentanyl increased 105 % in South Carolina.

Its an alarming issue in our community that we’ve been covering here at CN2.

Today as we raise awareness about overdoses , in the video above, CN2’s Renee O’Neil shares one recovering addict’s story of pain and hope as she has now been clean after receiving treatment from Keystone Substance Abuse Services in Rock Hill.

COLUMBIA, S.C. ― Like the rest of the country, South Carolina is experiencing a disturbing increase in the number of drug overdose deaths, especially overdose deaths involving fentanyl. For International Overdose Awareness Day on August 31, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) and the South Carolina Department of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Services (DAODAS) reaffirm their commitment to help stop drug overdose deaths, combat stigma, provide resources, and acknowledge the grief of loved ones impacted by this national problem.

“Substance use disorders are part of public health, and with the dramatic increase in overdose deaths during the past two years, there is no question that substance use disorders represent a public health crisis in South Carolina,” said DHEC Director Dr. Edward Simmer. “DHEC is dedicated to continuing to work with DAODAS and fellow state agencies, as well as federal partners and community groups around the state, to stop overdose deaths.” 

From 2019 to 2020, the total number of opioid-involved overdose deaths in South Carolina increased by 59 percent, from 876 to 1,400, according to the annual Drug Overdose Deaths Statistical Report for South Carolina. The total number of all drug overdoses increased by 53 percent across the state, from 1,131 to 1,734.

  • Nationally, to include South Carolina, the synthetic opioid fentanyl is largely responsible for the increase in overdose deaths.
  • From 2019 to 2020, drug overdose deaths involving fentanyl increased 105 percent in South Carolina, from 537 to 1,100.
  • From 2019 to 2020, fentanyl was involved in 79 percent of all opioid-involved overdose deaths, which does not include the dangers of fentanyl being mixed with other substances such as cocaine and methamphetamine.

“Overdose Awareness Day is a time to remember those who lost their lives from an overdose, but it also provides an opportunity to work together to remove the stigma associated with substance use disorders (SUDs) and overdose,” said DAODAS Director Sara Goldsby. “People can and do recover from SUDs, going on to lead healthy lives, which is why it is so significant that Governor Henry McMaster has proclaimed August 31 as Overdose Awareness Day in South Carolina.”

How Family and Friends Can Help Prevent Overdoses

  • Nearly 50 percent of misused prescription drugs come from family and friends, so make sure all medications are stored in their original containers and are up, away, and out of sight. If older children and teenagers are in the home, store prescription opioids and medications behind lock and key when not in use.
  • Discard prescriptions you are not using in safe disposal sites across the state. Visit for a location near you. 
  • Warn loved ones of the dangers of using pills or medication purchased online or from any source not requiring a valid prescription. Additional information on counterfeit pills is available at
  • Keep Narcan® (or another form of the overdose antidote medication, naloxone) on hand. Narcan® is available without a prescription at pharmacies and community distributors across the state. To locate a community distributor, visit To learn how to recognize signs of an overdose and administer intranasal Narcan®, watch an instructional video at

Efforts to Prevent Drug Overdoses and Substance Use

“The absolute most important thing we want people to know is that help is out there,” said Emma Kennedy, Director of DHEC’s Division of Injury and Substance Abuse Prevention. “By sharing with people the various resources that are available for anyone suffering from substance use, we all have the potential to help save someone’s life. We are determined to end this upsetting trend and make sure South Carolinians have the help they need and deserve.”

DAODAS and DHEC participate in a statewide, coordinated effort to end drug overdose deaths through the Governor’s Opioid Emergency Response Plan. DHEC also oversees the South Carolina Reporting & Identification Prescription Tracking System (SCRIPTS), which is a prescription monitoring program intended to improve the state’s ability to identify and stop the diversion of prescription drugs through education, early intervention and enforcement.

Annual drug overdose data are provided by DHEC for DAODAS’ Just Plain Killers website.

Through its Reducing Opioid Loss of Life (ROLL) and Law Enforcement Officer Naloxone (LEON) programs, DHEC trains first responders on identifying drug overdoses and equips them with Narcan®. To date, more than 275 law enforcement agencies in South Carolina participate in the LEON program and more than 189 fire departments participate in the ROLL program. So far in 2022, there have been 532 Narcan® administrations through ROLL and 562 through LEON. The two programs are funded by DAODAS through a grant from the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Resources Available to South Carolinians

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