South Carolina drug overdose deaths up 53%, SCDHEC says

SCDHEC released staggering new numbers on opioid overdose deaths in South Carolina.In a report, DHEC said the number of drug overdose deaths went up by 53% in 2020 from 2019. It said opioid overdose deaths went up 59%.State health officials say fentanyl was involved in 79% of opioid-related overdose deaths in the state.”It’s just extremely easy to get,” Dr. Don Viets said. “It’s extremely cheap.”Viets opened Ascent Recovery Solutions in Simpsonville in 2021. He says the opioid epidemic has been a major ongoing issue in the Upstate.”The only difference is now we’re seeing more and more fentanyl,” he said. “Less and less traditional opiates in our screens.”DHEC said the number of fentanyl-related overdoses more than doubled from 2019 to 2020. Viets says a big issue they’re seeing is quality control. Unlike a treatment facility or pharmacy, he says patients are rarely getting just the drug they’re buying off the street.”If someone thinks they’re getting Xanax, they may very well get Xanax, but they may also get six other things with it,” he said. “Same thing, they’ll get fentanyl, but they’ll get three or four things.”The opioid epidemic is still a nationwide issue. President Joe Biden acknowledged the crisis in his State of the Union Address Tuesday night.”Increased funding for prevention, treatment, harm reduction in recovery, get rid of outdated rules and stop doctors and, and the, that stop doctors, prescribing treatments,” President Biden said, “Stop the flow of illicit drugs by working with state and local law enforcement to go after the traffickers.”Viets says the 2020 numbers released by DHEC further prove the need for access to more treatment. He also emphasizes the need to break the stigma surrounding drug addiction and recovery. He says the majority of patients they see are in need of treatment, but they’d like to see penalties for dealers who are profiting millions of dollars off of drug sales. “We would love to see a little harsher penalties on that end if they’re particularly bad, but at the same time, I don’t believe small amounts of a substance should be enough,” Viets said. “If someone’s needing treatment, instead of sending them to jail, send them here to our treatment centers.”Viets says they’ve seen more people seeking treatment over the last several months as COVID-19 cases drop.

SCDHEC released staggering new numbers on opioid overdose deaths in South Carolina.

In a report, DHEC said the number of drug overdose deaths went up by 53% in 2020 from 2019. It said opioid overdose deaths went up 59%.

State health officials say fentanyl was involved in 79% of opioid-related overdose deaths in the state.

“It’s just extremely easy to get,” Dr. Don Viets said. “It’s extremely cheap.”

Viets opened Ascent Recovery Solutions in Simpsonville in 2021. He says the opioid epidemic has been a major ongoing issue in the Upstate.

“The only difference is now we’re seeing more and more fentanyl,” he said. “Less and less traditional opiates in our screens.”

DHEC said the number of fentanyl-related overdoses more than doubled from 2019 to 2020.

Viets says a big issue they’re seeing is quality control. Unlike a treatment facility or pharmacy, he says patients are rarely getting just the drug they’re buying off the street.

“If someone thinks they’re getting Xanax, they may very well get Xanax, but they may also get six other things with it,” he said. “Same thing, they’ll get fentanyl, but they’ll get three or four things.”

The opioid epidemic is still a nationwide issue. President Joe Biden acknowledged the crisis in his State of the Union Address Tuesday night.

“Increased funding for prevention, treatment, harm reduction in recovery, get rid of outdated rules and stop doctors and, and the, that stop doctors, prescribing treatments,” President Biden said. “Stop the flow of illicit drugs by working with state and local law enforcement to go after the traffickers.”

Viets says the 2020 numbers released by DHEC further prove the need for access to more treatment. He also emphasizes the need to break the stigma surrounding drug addiction and recovery.

He says the majority of patients they see are in need of treatment, but they’d like to see penalties for dealers who are profiting millions of dollars off of drug sales.

“We would love to see a little harsher penalties on that end if they’re particularly bad, but at the same time, I don’t believe small amounts of a substance should be enough,” Viets said. “If someone’s needing treatment, instead of sending them to jail, send them here to our treatment centers.”

Viets says they’ve seen more people seeking treatment over the last several months as COVID-19 cases drop.

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