Leaders of South Carolina’s cities and towns concerned about the opioid crisis are asking the Municipal Association of South Carolina for help.
The MASC provides support to 270 of the state’s cities and towns through representation, advocacy and information services. Addressing the opioid crisis is among its 2018 legislative initiatives.
“We are beginning to have some pretty serious conversations with a number of our local leaders about the opioid epidemic,” Deputy Executive Director Reba Campbell said. “More and more we are hearing from our local officials that they are seeing this problem. They are seeing the problem with being able to supply their officers with Narcan.”
Narcan, known as Naloxone, is used to block the effects of opioids and reverse an overdose. Some law enforcement agencies equip officers with Narcan to administer if they’re first on the scene of an overdose.
“I imagine that we’re going to be hearing more and more about this,” Campbell said. “This is something that came up at every single one of our regional meetings back in the fall, as people are beginning to recognize what a vast epidemic this is. This isn’t just a problem. It’s growing into an epidemic.”
Campbell said an agent with the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division gave a presentation to city managers this fall and told them that “it’s a supply problem. There’s a problem with the supply of drugs. There’s just so much out there.”
“They’re beginning to understand that this is a continuum of issues,” Campbell said. “It’s not just a single issue of being able to identify who’s dealing and then go out and get them.”
Campbell said MASC plans to encourage lawmakers to consider funding for providing Narcan to police officers, training officers how to respond to someone or arrest someone who may be under the influence of opioids, help for ways to stop the epidemic and help finding needed resources for people trying to get into recovery programs.
“This is a real example of its going to take a village to solve this problem,” Campbell said. “It’s not just a law enforcement problem. It’s a problem in schools, it’s a problem in families and everybody is going to have to be involved with helping to solve this problem.”