News Releases

News Releases

Annual DHEC report on prescription drugs offers insight, trends on medication use in S.C.

May 22, 2023

COLUMBIA, S.C. ― The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) has published the 2022 report on prescription drug use in the state. The annual report provides a detailed assessment of certain controlled substance medications that are prescribed to South Carolinians, which can help health officials prevent prescription medication misuse, substance use disorders and opioid overdoses.

Each year, the South Carolina Prescription Monitoring Report is produced by DHEC’s Bureau of Drug Control. Over the past several years, the prescription monitoring program (PMP) has quickly developed as an important clinical and public health surveillance tool. Through a highly secure PMP database, health care professionals can review a patient’s history of prescribed controlled substance medications to ensure patient safety and gather demographic information about prescription medication use in communities across the state. 

“While fairly new, prescription monitoring programs continue to be a promising strategy for identifying key trends in the prescribing and use of controlled substances,” said Samantha Donnelly, MSPH, Prescription Monitoring Program, Epidemiologist. “We continue to see declines in the number of overall controlled substances filled in South Carolina, which may be due to continued increase in the usage of the PMP that we’ve seen over time. However, stimulants are an area that we are paying attention to as they are now the number one controlled substance filled in South Carolina.” 

Since 2014, South Carolina state law has required prescription controlled substance medication dispensers to upload their daily dispensations into the state’s PMP database, called SCRIPTS (South Carolina Reporting & Identification Prescription Tracking System). Medications are categorized by “schedules,” and SCRIPTS tracks controlled substances within schedules II, III & IV.

Key data from the 2022 report include:

  • The number of stimulant prescriptions filled continues to increase year over year. Dextroamphetamine sulf-saccharate/amphetamine, commonly known as Adderall or Mydayis, has had a 29% increase in dispensations that were prescribed by a South Carolina provider from 2018 to 2022, with those 35 to 44 years of age being among the highest dispensed age group.
  • In 2022, the number of stimulant prescriptions surpassed benzodiazepine dispensations for the first time since dispensation trends were tracked. 
  • In previous years, hydrocodone bitartrate/acetaminophen was the top dispensed controlled substance drug for South Carolina. In 2022, dextroamphetamine sulf-saccharate/amphetamine sulf-asparate took its place as the number one controlled substance dispensed in the state.

“Although we continue to see positive prescribing trends across the state, the rapid rise in stimulant dispensations over the last few years is something we are monitoring as a potential concern,” said Chelsea Townsend, PharmD, Prescription Monitoring Program, Director. “DHEC and its partners can use this data to help intervene in potential areas of prescription drug misuse, which can, ultimately, save lives.” 

The South Carolina Prescription Monitoring Program and SCRIPTS database were created through the 2006 South Carolina Prescription Monitoring Act. The Act aligns with ongoing statewide efforts to stop drug overdoses and deaths in South Carolina.

When prescribed appropriately and used as directed, controlled substances are effective aids in helping to manage and treat various health conditions. The Prescription Drug Monitoring Act and Prescription Monitoring Program are focused on reducing the inappropriate use and misuse of controlled substances, which can lead to severe health risks or death, while ensuring these important medications remain available for those who need them.

DHEC reminds all South Carolinians that help is available for anyone experiencing substance use issues:

  • S.C. Department of Alcohol and other Drug Abuse (DAODAS): for information about treatment options and other resources, call 803-896-5555 or send a message to DAODAS also provides a map and contact information for treatment providers around the state for those wishing to contact a treatment facility directly. 
  • The SC Mobile Crisis response program is operated by the South Carolina Department of Mental Health (SCDMH) and can assist anyone experiencing a mental health crisis, 24-hours-a-day/seven days a week, every day of the year. Trained staff can assist over the phone or in-person when appropriate. Call the SC Mobile Crisis line at 833-364-2274 or email
  • SCDMH’s Online Mental Health Screener is a safe, easy, and free service that allows users to anonymously take a Self-Check Questionnaire and connect with a professional counselor who can offer guidance, support, and resources to help connect them with mental health and addiction services. 
  • Anyone seeking help for mental illness, a substance use disorder – or both – can reach out to the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s National Helpline — a free, confidential, 24/7 treatment referral and information service for individuals and families (in English/Spanish) — at 1-800-662-HELP.



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