Opioid Crisis

Since the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020, South Carolina has seen a 41.6% increase in drug-related overdose deaths, with 461 more people dying of drug overdose in 2020 than in 2019, according to a new QuoteWizard study.

While the coronavirus took center stage as far as health crises across the country were concerned, the opioid epidemic has also led to the deaths of 87,000 Americans. The QuoteWizard analysis used data from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and broke the impact down by state.

South Carolina saw 1,107 overdose deaths in 2019, nearly 50% fewer than the 1,568 seen in 2020. While the total numbers were low compared to other states’ (Florida saw 7,394 deaths in 2020, and California saw 8,256), the Palmetto State still saw growth in the total number of deaths.

Florida and California saw a 40.8% and 35.5% increase in drug overdose deaths, respectively. Only four other states were ahead of South Carolina in this metric: Louisiana (53.2%), Kentucky (49.2%), West Virginia (49.0%) and Colorado (42.4%).

Nationally, drug overdose deaths increased at a much slower rate than in South Carolina, with a 27% increase between 2019 and 2020. Combined, opioids account for nearly 70% of these overdose deaths.

Even this increase is dramatic, however, and has garnered attention from medical experts and legislators. President Joe Biden recently unveiled a five-part plan to address the opioid crisis, one key component of which is a $125 billion expansion of prevention, treatment and recovery services.

South Carolina’s Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) is part of the S.C. Opioid Emergency Response Team and also participates in the CDC’s Overdose Data to Action initiative, a cooperative agreement focusing on the complex and changing nature of the epidemic through an interdisciplinary, comprehensive, and cohesive public health approach.

If you or someone you know is struggling with opioid or other drug addiction, reach out to one of the many drug intervention groups near you, like Just Pain Killers, a group that helps connect people with opioid dependence treatment centers.