ANDERSON, S.C. (WSPA) – A partnership with an upstate non-profit is working to bring a life-saving tool to an unexpected place. They’re putting naloxone in gas stations across South Carolina. A life-saving opioid overdose reversal drug that leaders with an upstate organization told WSPA 7 News, is in high demand right now.
An environment that is no stranger to Yogi Patel. He has owned a number of gas stations over the years and has seen a lot.
“The very first gas station, somebody died in the restroom in the gas station. We found out after 30 minutes that he overdosed,” said Upstate man in recovery, Yogi Patel.
Patel became an addict himself.
“I was drinking heavily due to stress of business and everything else,” Patel said.
Now he’s in recovery and on a journey to prevent future overdose deaths at places like gas stations.
“People are buying and selling their drugs in a gas station parking lot and then get into a safe, clean place where they can use their substance. They might go into the bathroom,” said Program Director with Challenges Inc., Marc Burrows.
Marc Burrows works with Challenges Inc., a non-profit offering harm reduction supplies like clean syringes. He knows a lot about all of this because he has worn those shoes.
“I had my favorite bathrooms picked out around town and knew which ones were safe, and clean and had a locking door,” Burrows told 7 News.
That’s why he, Patel and other members of Challenges Inc., are bringing naloxone behind gas station counters across South Carolina. They’re also educating store clerks on how it’s used.
“I overdosed in the late 90’s so I think it’s important to be able to keep people alive until they’re in the position to be able to sustain recovery,” said Board Member with Challenges Inc., Michael Crouch.
“Overdose rates are through the roof right now,” said Burrows.
While this may be a start, Burrows said there is still a long way to go.
“We’ll feel better when we start seeing those numbers come down and we start seeing overdose rates decrease,” said Burrows.
They’ve passed out naloxone to about half a dozen gas stations in the upstate so far. Their goal is to work their way across the entire state.
They are also looking to eventually expand this mission across state lines to North Carolina and Georgia.
If you are battling addiction, there is help out there both in the upstate and beyond. You can find a link to the resources offered with Challenges Inc. here: https://challengesinc.org/
Additionally, there’s the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration hotline. That number is a free, confidential, 24/7 line that can be reached at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).