Last Wednesday, South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster announced that he had created a state emergency response plan to tackle the chronic and ongoing opioid epidemic.
The plan was created with the input of more than 24 organizations and outlines strategies to support state and local efforts. In December 2017, Gov. McMaster first began formulating a plan to combat opioids by issuing a public health emergency.
The governor’s emergency declaration brought together state officials, private partners, and law enforcement to utilize the emergency management infrastructure to combat the growing epidemic or opioid deaths, addiction, and abuse.
The new plan calls for better record-keeping in the medical community and addiction-related opioid training. Physicians will be expected to have opioid-informed conversations with their patients and understanding other pain treatment options. This should help raise awareness of the dangers of opioid use, and help physicians prevent and respond to opioid use disorder.
The plan also involves adding treatment and recovery options, increasing resources to combat illicit opioid supply chains, and other actions that help to reduce fatal opioid overdoses and divert addicted person to treatment instead of incarceration for drug-related offenses. The State Law Enforcement Division and the state Department of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Services will help direct these new efforts to combat opioid addiction in South Carolina.
“This plan is a living, breathing document that we will add to and amend as we encounter new issues and achieve successes,” McMaster said. “We will combat the opioid crisis the only way our state knows how: as one team collaborating and sharing talents and resources to help the people of South Carolina.”
According to the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control, opioid-related deaths have been climbing in the state in the past several years. The most recent statistic shows that in 2016, 550 deaths occurred in South Carolina from a drug overdose with prescription opioid drugs listed on the death certificate. These numbers were up 7% in 2015 and up 18% from 464 in 2014. The deaths outpace the number of homicides throughout the state.