The director of South Carolina’s addiction services agency said Tuesday he will retire from the position next week.
Department of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Services (DAODAS) director Bob Toomey told South Carolina Radio Network he will move to a new home he and his wife built in the North Carolina mountains.
“I’m’ 70 years old and ready to retire,” Toomey said.
He is one of the few remaining Cabinet appointees who have been with Gov. Nikki Haley since her first year in office. DAODAS is a relatively small Cabinet agency, but works with 32 providers and nonprofits across all counties in South Carolina to provide treatment services for drug or alcohol addiction patients.
“For Bob Toomey, public service isn’t just a position, it’s personal,” Gov. Haley said in a statement announcing Toomey’s departure. “Thanks to his award-winning leadership, there is a better understanding of what warning signs to watch for in our loved ones and where help is available for anyone battling substance abuse and addiction. We are grateful for Bob’s long service because he continues to give those who suffer and their families hope.”
Toomey said he was proud his agency was able to “increase access and remove a couple of barriers” for those seeking help. Toomey said he believes one of the most important changes was “elevating the quality of care” and creating an agency culture that views addiction as a sickness, not a character issue.
The director said he is a recovering addict himself and thanked the governor for appointing him to the post in 2011 despite the potential political risk. “It was a pretty courageous choice to put someone in long-term (addiction) recovery in this Cabinet position. I’m the first person to serve, at least at this agency, that’s in recovery. I’m grateful and indebted.”
The Governor’s Office noted Toomey’s role in helping co-chair the state’s Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention Council to address South Carolina’s ranking as 23rd highest per capita in opioid painkiller prescriptions and overdose deaths.
Prior to his time at DAODAS, Toomey was the executive director of Medicaid Health Plans of South Carolina. He was then-Gov. Mark Sanford’s interim head of the state Department of Health and Human Services in 2003 and director of the South Carolina Retirement System before that.
The agency’s health systems policy consultant Sara Goldsby will serve as acting director after Toomey officially leaves next week.