Gov. Henry McMaster on Wednesday released the South Carolina Opioid Emergency Response Plan meant to help coordinate the state’s response to the opioid overdose epidemic.
The plan was developed with input from more than two dozen organizations under the South Carolina Opioid Emergency Response Team (SCOERT) created by the governor last year.
“This plan is a living, breathing document that we will add to and amend as we encounter new issues and achieve successes,” McMaster said in a release Wednesday. “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.”
The State Law Enforcement Division and the South Carolina Department of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Services serve as the lead agencies of the SCOERT. They identified four focus areas to address the opioid problem, including education and communication, prevention and response, treatment and recovery, and coordinated law enforcement strategies.
The state Department of Health and Environmental Control said 616 deaths in South Carolina were attributed to opioid overdoses in 2016, the most recent year available. That was a 15 percent increase from a year earlier.
The plan is divided into four “annexes” which focus on different avenues to stop the growing use of opioids. The first annex tries to increase the education component so that doctors can inform patients of the risk legal pain medications present. The second annex focuses with prevention and treatment of addiction and overuse. The third works to make the treatment more accessible, while the fourth targets illegal drug supplies and sales.
A new map-based data portal was recently added to the state’s opioid crisis education campaign website, which displays opioid-related mortality data searchable by county. The data displayed is provided as part of the SCOERT collaboration, including DAODAS, the S.C. Dept. of Health and Environmental Control, SCEMD and others.