Lowcountry officials battle opioid epidemic

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MOUNT PLEASANT, S.C. (WCBD) – Lowcountry officials are working to fight an increasing opioid problem across the area and are making sure everyone takes part in the fight.

Since 2019, more than 70,000 Americans have died from drug overdoses and local agencies are making sure people know how and when to react to someone who is overdosing.

“We are not just leaving it to law enforcement, EMS, and the hospital. We as community members can actually save somebody’s life,” says Caitlin Kratz, the Opioid Treatment Director at the Charleston Center.

Statistics show that Charleston is the third highest county in South Carolina in overdose deaths following Horry and Greenville County.

“We know that drug use is a safety issue and that it’s affecting the lives of people in our community,” says Rachel Lefebre, the Police Assisted Addicted and Recovery Initiative Outreach Coordinator for the Charleston Police Department (CPD).

To help fight the epidemic, local agencies across Charleston County host monthly Narcan trainings to talk about opioid overdoses and how to effectively respond using the antidote called Narcan. Kratz with The Charleston Center says, bringing awareness is crucial as the pandemic has led to an uptick of overdoses.

“We can come together as a community and recognize it’s a problem we are all facing. We need to arm ourselves with the way that we can help end opioid overdoses in our own community,” says Kratz.

CPD received a $900,000 grant to help decrease opioid addiction and now they’re able to create the addiction crisis task force and recovery programs.

“With this grant money we are going to be able to get a program off the ground in which we are able to exchange data in real time and where our at most risks individuals are,” says Lefebre

Officials say having the ability to assist people dealing with opioid addictions with training will bridge the gap between law enforcement and the community.

“It’s really important that we let them know how easy it is and how accessible the medication is. We need to empower them to use it and know they are not alone,” says Kratz.

Mount Pleasant Police hosts free Narcan trainings the first Wednesday of every month from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Mount Pleasant Town Hall.

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