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S.C. governor schedules summit on opioid crisis

S.C. governor schedules summit on opioid crisis

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COLUMBIA – As part of the state’s response to issues related to prescription opioids and heroin in South Carolina, the 2017 S.C. Governor’s Opioid Summit will be held Sept. 6-7 at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center.

Sponsored by the S.C. Department of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Services, the summit will be a statewide response to the opioid epidemic, bringing together healthcare professionals, state and local agencies, concerned citizens and law enforcement to collaborate on solutions.

"It is more critical than ever that we bring together every group that has a stake in the opioid crisis to combat what we now know is one of the most deadly health issues our state and country have faced in a generation," Gov. Henry McMaster said. "Over the course of the summit, we will hear from some of the country's foremost experts on opioid addiction and discuss a strategic plan for improving South Carolina's response efforts. This tragic epidemic has already torn apart too many families, and I'm confident that South Carolina will come together, as it always has, to provide the support necessary to save lives."

“By bringing together individuals from the full spectrum of professions – from health care to law enforcement – we can work together on solutions that emphasize opioid overdoses as a health issue,” said Sara Goldsby, Interim Director of DAODAS. “All of the current science tells us that the physiology of brains affected by opiates are altered differently than any other addictions.”

For information about the summit and to register, visit the www.scopioidsummit.org.

Keynote speakers for the summit will include McMaster and Bertha K. Madras, Ph.D., of Harvard Medical School, who was recently named to the President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis. The event will also feature a wide selection of sessions that promote the theme of cross-sector connection, communication, and collaboration.

In 2015, there were 594 opioid-related overdose deaths in South Carolina vs. 311 homicides – a 17 percent increase from the number of opioid deaths in 2014. Also in 2015, 5,702 patients were discharged from emergency departments with issues related to opioid abuse/dependence, and 2,398 were discharged from EDs with issues related to opioid overdose/poisoning. Over the past 10 years, there has been a 135 percent increase in service utilization at state-funded substance use disorder treatment programs for individuals looking for help with an opioid use disorder – from 2,469 in 2006 to 5,803 in 2016.

Joining DAODAS in presenting the Governor’s Opioid Summit are the state Department of Health and Human Services; Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation; S.C. Law Enforcement Division, and Department of Health and Environmental Control.

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