South Carolina sees increase in overdoses, drug related deaths during COVID-19

MOUNT PLEASANT, S.C. (WCBD) – The Department of Health and Environmental Control says South Carolina’s overdose crisis is getting worse. The agency reports the state had over 1,700 overdoses in 2020, a 53% increase from 2019.

The number of drug overdose deaths in South Carolina from 2019 to 2020 also saw a significant increase, growing by nearly 60 percent while surpassing more than a thousand deaths. State and local leaders say reversing the trend starts by providing better resources to communities seeing the greatest impact.

“We are losing lives in this community like numbers we haven’t seen and what are we doing to make things better,” says Nanci Steadman Ship, the Founder of WakeUp Carolina.

South Carolina’s drug crisis has continued to grow during COVID-19. South Carolina had a total of 1,734 overdoses. The Palmetto state saw a 105% increase in overdose drugs laced with Fentanyl, 79% of all overdoses in 2020 were Fentanyl related..

Things continued to get worse in 20-21, DHEC reports the state saw another 53% increase in overdose deaths after the number grew by 59% in 2020. The increase has put local advocates on high alert.

Steadman Shipman founded WakeUp Carolina to fight overdoses after losing her son to one in 2016, she says the calls for help have grown exponentially ever since.

“Begging for treatment, asking for help and asking for resources,” says Steadman Shipman.

Fatal overdoses jumped from from 876 to 1,400 during the first year of the pandemic in 2020.

DHEC reports the most overdoses are among people in their 30’s and 40’s. State leaders say increasing resources and options locally and statewide is the answer.

Steadman Shipman fears 2022 will be worse but says fighting the crisis starts with a passion to fight overdoses one at a time.

“There is hope we can help bridge those gaps with resources and treatment and support and recovery,” says Steadman Shipman.

If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, you can find helpful information by reaching out to WakeUp Carolina, Just Plain Killers or calling the drug addiction hotline at 1-800-662-4357.