BEAUFORT, S.C. (WSAV) — More than 20 people have died in Beaufort County this year due to opioid overdoses — but officials have been working to attack the problem head-on.
In all but one of those cases, the unofficial cause was the drug Fentanyl, a pain medication 50 times more powerful than Xanax.
To combat the opioid epidemic, Governor Henry McMaster issued a public health emergency on Monday, Dec. 18.
The declaration creates an emergency response team to coordinate health and law enforcement resources statewide.
It also puts a 5-day limitation on initial opioid prescriptions.
“Reducing the supply to what is medically needed makes sense,” says Captain Bob Bromage with the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office. “And by reducing the supply, you are reducing the amount of opioids in your medicine cabinet that could land in the wrong hands.”
The Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office held a summit back in March and created a task force to tackle opioid use.
Since then, the public attention on the issue has made a difference.
There were more than 90 overdoses in Beaufort County before August first — and only 20 since then.
“Overdoses are far-reaching and touch every demographic and we’ve seen that again and again,” says Bromage.
The sheriff’s office hopes to continue increasing awareness and prevention of overdoses.
Deputies have been outfitted with Narcan, an anti-overdose drug, which has been used twice to save lives.
But ultimately, the goal is for individuals to stop use entirely and seek medical treatment if needed.