Through the Department of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Services, the State of South Carolina is dispersing nearly $1.2 million across the state as part of an effort to fight the opioid crisis. Every county is getting $25,000 to implement new programs and initiatives focused on opioid abuse and addiction.
“The opioid epidemic has impacted every part of our state and country, which is why it’s so important to invest these funds in every county in the state,” said Gov. Henry McMaster. “In order to eradicate this disease from our communities, we must continue to invest in evidence-based programs and initiatives, and make them available in every part of the state.”
According to DAODAS, the money must be used to fund new projects or to expand existing projects.
“It is important that local partners collaborate with one another to reduce the impact of prescription drug use/misuse and to support achievement of the desired outcomes,” said DAODAS Director Sara Goldsby. “Funds can also be used to build the capacity of county alcohol and drug staff and their local government partners.”
The Georgetown County Alcohol and Drug Abuse Commission will be responsible for managing the funds for Georgetown County. The Commission utilizes a common, multi-level approach to abuse services consisting of treatment, intervention and prevention.
Raphael Carr, Executive Director for the Alcohol and Abuse Commission said they’ve earmarked the money for prevention services. However, they must submit a plan that demonstrates a partnership with organizations such as schools or law enforcement as evidence of “local buy-in” before funds can be received. DAODAS provided a list of strategies that could be utilized with the funding consisting of:
• Drug take-back events
• Drug-deactivation bags/buckets
• Prescription drug drop off boxes
• Public awareness campaigns
• Town hall meetings and forums
• Professional development
• Curriculum-based programs that have a prescription drug focus
Carr said they plan to work with local law enforcement to establish locations for medication drop boxes. They also plan to utilize funds for local training and professional conferences. They are looking into some marketing and advertising as well to disseminate information to the public.
Georgetown County is an area struggling with opioid abuse. Carr said the County’s proximity to Horry County and location east of I-95 make the area susceptible to the opioid crisis. He said Georgetown County consistently ranks in the top third off areas in the state for various opioid abuse categories. Overdoses are of particular concern and Georgetown has ranked at the top of the list for percentage of the population that experiences overdoses.
As a result of the increasing abuse of opioids, Carr said they ‘ve seen an increase of medication assisted treatment for prescription drug abuse which is a direct result of the high need for those intervention services.
The Commission’s plan for the $25,000 must be submitted by September 30. The funds are currently a “one-time” budget boost. However, Carr hopes the State will continue providing the funds in future budgets.
We’re hoping that our prevention services will have a positive impact on the community,” Carr said. “We welcome individuals who want to support and assist us.”