Drug And Alcohol Addiction In Charleston, South Carolina
Charleston, South Carolina, is the seat of Charleston County and sits within Charleston Harbor, along the eastern coast of the US. With a population of over 120,000 and a metropolitan-area population of more than 740,000, Charleston has faced some of the harshest consequences of substance abuse. There have been record highs for Opioid-related deaths, and FBI Crime Reports have stated that Charleston’s crime level was worse than the national average.
The most commonly abused illicit substance is reportedly Marijuana, though Opioids (including prescription drugs), Methamphetamines, Cocaine, and LSD have surged in abuse rates recently. Most often, multiple drugs are abused simultaneously, making abuse even deadlier and contributing to the city’s record numbers for overdose treatment and overdose deaths.
Adderall Abuse In Charleston
South Carolina has one of the highest rates of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) diagnoses in the country, with 16% of kids and teens in the state having suffered from ADHD at some point in their life. In mid-2018, a study of the most commonly prescribed drugs by state showed that South Carolina prescribed medication for ADHD more than any other drug (mostly the brand name prescription Adderall). Adderall, an Amphetamine Salt combo, is a Central Nervous System Stimulant prescribed to help those with ADHD focus and improve memory.
Yet, research showed that nearly 48% of students demonstrated they were “exaggerating or even fabricating their symptoms.” Commonly, those in the throes of an Adderall addiction abuse the drug for effects it produces that are similar to Cocaine.
Charleston’s Opioid Crisis
The number of annual Opioid prescriptions written in South Carolina has been nearly equal to that of its total population size. With at least 5.2 million Opioid prescriptions, and countless Opiates purchased on the streets, Charleston (and South Carolina as a whole) has experienced its highest number of overdose deaths to date. In fact, death by Opioids have exceeded the number of homicide deaths in Charleston County, and experts have estimated 1 in 5 Emergency Medical Services (EMS) calls in the area as being overdose-related medical emergencies. The county’s Narcan use increased 59% in one year, and Charleston County has had the second-highest rate of Opioid-related deaths in the state.
Unfortunately, rates have continued to climb in Charleston. Of all substance abuse patients admitted to Charleston hospitals, 28% have been Opiate-related, and 44% of those patients were between the ages of 25 and 34, the majority of which were white.
Opioid addictions are so common because many users start by regularly taking Opioid painkillers legally prescribed by their doctor. Due to the addictive nature of these drugs (even when taken as prescribed), patients often develop a dependence without intending to. Many who develop an addiction will move on to Heroin abuse once they are unable to secure Opioid pills. Four of 5 Heroin users in South Carolina took prescription Opioids prior to experimenting with Heroin.
The devastation caused by Opioid abuse led the state’s top prosecutor to sue the maker of OxyContin for its promotion of the drug, encouraging doctors to prescribe it for unapproved uses, and failing to disclose its potential for addiction. At time of writing in 2022, there is a massive and multibillion-dollar settlement being negotiated that could result in payouts to localities across the country.
Illicit Substance Law Enforcement
Once considered a “consumer state” for drugs, South Carolina has more recently been categorized as a “source state.” Located midway between Miami and New York, the port city of Charleston is uniquely situated to maximize the distribution of illicit substances, making it more difficult for law enforcement to control the flow of drugs.
The Port of Charleston is a major transshipment corridor for containerized Cocaine. The interstates I-20, I-26, and I-77 intersect with I-95 and I-85 to supply northeastern states with other substances like Marijuana, Methamphetamine, and Heroin.
The state maintains severe penalties for drug possession and distribution (a felony crime not determined by the quantity of drugs but the manner in which it is stored or labelled). Charleston County has had the highest rate of drug arrests per 1,000 South Carolinian residents (more than half of arrests having been made for Marijuana). Sentencing laws in the state are complex and penalties vary from 30 days in jail to 30 years and up to $200,000 in fines.
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Addiction Treatment In Charleston
Charleston County maintains its own branch of South Carolina’s Department of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Services (DAODAS). The government program has estimated that over 386,000 people suffer from substance abuse problems that require immediate intervention and treatment within the state. To aid in the treatment of its citizens, pharmacies in Charleston carry Narcan for purchase without a prescription—allowing people to obtain it for themselves or family members in need. Charleston County has even established a program allowing its inmates to enter addiction treatment through its Persons Incarcerated Entering Recovery (PIER) program.
In addition to a wealth of 12-step recovery options, including Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous groups, Charleston offers other free and low-cost treatment. The Charleston Center is a DAODAS-certified treatment and recovery center available to the public that provides the county and surrounding area with:
- Inpatient services
- Outpatient services
- Alcohol and Drug Safety Action program
- Medication-assisted treatment (including Vivitrol, Methadone, and Suboxone)
- Urine drug screenings
- Prevention/education services
If you or a loved one is battling addiction, there is hope. For more information on treatment options, contact a treatment provider today.
Destiny Bezrutczyk is a Digital Content Writer from west Iowa. She earned a Bachelor’s in English Language and Literature from Texas Tech University. After working as a freelance script and blog writer, she began writing content for tech startups. Maintaining a passion for words, she took on a variety of projects where her writing could help people (especially those battling mental health and substance use disorders).
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- Area Connect. (2007). Charleston South Carolina Crime Statistics and Data Resources. Retrieved on June 25, 2018 at http://charlestonsc.areaconnect.com/crime1.htm
- David Aylor Law Offices. (2018). Busted for Drugs in Charleston: What You Need to Know. Retrieved on June 25, 2018 at https://davidaylor.com/busted-drugs-charleston-need-know/
- League of Women Voters of the Charleston Area. (2010). Mapping the Elephant: Illegal Drugs in South Carolina. Retrieved on June 25, 2018 at http://lwvcharleston.org/files/Revised_Drug_Study_Summary.pdf
- Live 5 News. (2017). Opioid overdoses spike 2x, 5x, higher in Tri-County. Retrieved on June 25, 2018 at http://www.live5news.com/story/35435234/opioid-overdoses-spike-2x-5x-higher-in-tricounty
- Medical Xpress. (2017). South Carolina sues drug manufacturer over opioid crisis. Retrieved on June 25, 2018 at https://medicalxpress.com/news/2017-08-lawsuit-accuses-drug-worsening-opioid.html
- South Carolina DAODAS. (2017). Opioid Deaths in South Carolina. Retrieved on June 25, 2018 at http://scopioidsummit.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/Data-Presentation.pdf
- The Post and Courier. (2018). This drug is prescribed more than any other in South Carolina. Researchers aren’t sure why. Retrieved on June 25, 2018 at https://www.postandcourier.com/health/this-drug-is-prescribed-more-than-any-other-in-south/article_a99872e6-3126-11e8-ad71-07a2dd354240.html
- Reuters. (2022). In Reversal, Georgia Joins $26 Billion U.S. Opioid Settlement. Retrieved on January 13, 2022, from: https://www.reuters.com/world/us/georgia-reverses-course-joins-26-billion-us-opioid-settlement-2022-01-07/