COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCBD) – The annual report shows that the number of overdose deaths from 2021 are continuing to rise across the state. The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control says the rise is in line with the national drug overdose epidemic.

Overdose-related deaths are increasing at an alarming rate across the Palmetto State.

“Anyone at risk of using illicit drugs, is at-risk of overdose,” Sara Goldsby, director of the South Carolina Department of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Services said.

Health experts say opioids, particularly fentanyl, continues to be the primary cause of overdose deaths in recent years.

“More people of different populations are experiencing overdoses now than we saw a couple years ago,” Goldsby said. “We believe, and we pretty much feel certain, that’s related to the fentanyl being laced in the cocaine and methamphetamine.”

DHEC’s report shows there were more than 2100 fatal overdoses in 2021, which is up from the previous year. That number ranks in the middle amongst all other states battling the drug overdose crisis.
“We are certainly striving,” Dr. Brannon Traxler, director of DHEC public health, said, “we want to be very below average. This is one health outcome category where we want to, without a doubt, be at the very bottom. Being average just has us in the middle. We still have work to do.”

Work that includes spreading the word about the overdose antidote naloxone.

“Naloxone is saving lives every day in our state,” Goldsby said, “not only when it’s administered by EMS, our law enforcement partners, firefighters, but also by friends and loved ones who have it on hand.”

The antidote, commonly known as NARCAN, can be found at retail pharmacies and community distributors across South Carolina.

“In every county,” Goldsby said, “naloxone can be found by anyone who needs it free of charge. And a list of those locations are available on”

Naloxone can reverse the effects of an overdose and presents no harm when given to someone not experiencing an overdose.