Drug 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 120,083 and a metropolitan-area population of 744,526, 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 is nearly equal to that of its total population size. With 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 exceeds the number of homicide deaths in Charleston County, and experts estimate that 1 in 5 Emergency Medical Services (EMS) calls in the area are overdose-related medical emergencies. The county’s Narcan use increased 59% in one year, and Charleston County has the second-highest rate of opioid-related deaths in the state.
Unfortunately, rates continue to climb in Charleston with about 38% more reported overdoses in 2017 than the previous year. Of all substance abuse patients admitted to Charleston hospitals, 28% were opiate-related, and 44% of those patients were between the ages of 25 and 34, the majority of which are 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 five 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 in 2017 for its promotion of the drug, encouraging doctors to prescribe it for unapproved uses, and failing to disclose its potential for addiction.
Get Answers to Your Questions
Illicit Substance Law Enforcement
Once considered a “consumer state” for drugs, South Carolina is now 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 the highest rate of drug arrests per 1,000 South Carolinian residents (more than half of arrests being 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.
Get Help During COVID-19
With just 30 days at a rehab center, you can get clean and sober, start therapy, join a support group, and learn ways to manage your cravings.
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 estimates 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 are battling addiction, there is hope. Contact a treatment provider today to discuss available treatment options.