Opioid Epidemic

 

Opioid use disorder and opioid overdoses are at epidemic levels in the United States today, and opioid misuse also creates secondary public health impacts by increasing demand on our first responders, law enforcement and healthcare agencies.

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DHEC's Efforts to Combat Opioid Overdose Deaths

We are part of the South Carolina Opioid Emergency Response Team, and also participate in the Center for Disease Control’s Overdose Data to Action initiative, a cooperative agreement focusing on the complex and changing nature of the epidemic through an interdisciplinary, comprehensive, and cohesive public health approach. Every day we work closely with federal, state and local partners to take actions against this threat in a number of ways:

Prevention

Resources: For those in crisis or suffering from OUD, we establish linkages to care through external partners such as Just Plain Killers and Naloxone Saves SC.

Educational Training: We empower individuals and families to make safer choices through opioid educational training at the community level and our Hold Out the Lifeline partnership with communities of faith.

Families and Communities: DHEC helps integrate state and local prevention and response efforts through the Strengthening Families Program and the Community Outreach Paramedic Education Program

Healthcare: DHEC partners with healthcare systems to provide opioid-related education for doctors and health care providers, including training of more than 700 providers to date.

Naloxone: DHEC’s Bureau of Emergency Medical Services regulates and monitors paramedic usage of the opioid antidote naloxone, and expanded the scope of practice for first responders including EMRs, EMTs, and AEMTs to authorize them to carry and use naloxone. EMS also created the Law Enforcement Officer Naloxone (LEON) program in 2015 to train law enforcement agencies across South Carolina to identify, treat and report drug overdoses attributed to opioids.

Surveillance

Opioid Statistical Surveillance: DHEC collects opioid overdose data, death data and conducts opioid-related bio-surveillance.

Drug Monitoring: DHEC’s Bureau of Drug Control administers the state's prescription monitoring program, called the South Carolina Reporting & Identification Prescription Tracking System (SCRIPTS), which tracks the dispensing of controlled substance prescriptions. Drug Control also works closely with a range of law enforcement and government agencies to identify prescription drug abuse hotspots and improve investigation and prosecution of prescription drug abuse cases.

Sharing timely information with public safety and first responders:

  • Vulnerability assessments increase data sharing and coordination across public health and public safety partners. They inform prevention and response activities, increase jurisdictional awareness of the opioid crisis, provide evidence-based approaches to combat it, and ensure that resources are being maximized as the opioid crisis evolves and changes.
  • DHEC leverages the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Overdose Map to rapidly detect suspected overdose outbreaks in real-time and share results with local-level agencies for planning and resource allocation.