DAODAS Receives $3.2 Million Federal Grant to Combat Opioid Overdoses and Deaths

Press release shared by the S.C. Department of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Services.

The S.C. Department of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Services (DAODAS) has received a federal grant totaling $3,192,772 to reduce the number of prescription drug/opioid overdose-related deaths and adverse events in our state.

South Carolina is one of 12 states to receive funding through the five-year grant, which was awarded by the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Through the new South Carolina Overdose Prevention Project, first responders, and opioid use disorder patients and their family members will be trained to recognize an opioid overdose and to administer naloxone when overdose occurs. The development of a statewide distribution system will make naloxone available and easily accessible to trained first responders and to at-risk citizens, regardless of their ability to pay for the medication.

“The South Carolina Overdose Prevention Project is a natural outgrowth of the work begun by Governor Haley’s Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention Council to address the misuse of opioids and other prescription drugs,” said Sara Goldsby, Acting Director of DAODAS. “The largest portion of the award will be for naloxone itself, as many municipalities and clients are unable to afford this lifesaving drug. We look forward to having many interventions and saved lives to celebrate in the coming years!”

DAODAS will partner in this initiative with the Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC)’s Bureau of Emergency Medical Services and the Fifth Judicial Circuit Solicitor’s Office to train first responders at agencies in areas of high need by implementing a train-the-trainer methodology, leading officers and deputies who train forces regularly to facilitate ongoing trainings of officers and deputies as needed. First-responder training will focus more intensely on law enforcement in the first two years of grant funding, and in the third year will begin including fire departments to reach first responders after education and training materials specific to their profession are developed, and outcomes related solely to law enforcement can be evaluated.

“First responders work on the front lines to recognize and treat people suffering from potential life-threatening opioid overdoses,” said Catherine Heigel, DHEC Director. “The partnership with DAODAS will ensure first responders across the state have access to training and naloxone that are critical to the continued fight against opioid overdoses and deaths.”

“This has been a collective effort with an extremely positive outcome,” said Fifth Circuit Solicitor Dan Johnson. “Any time we can bring national resources into our local communities and provide programs helpful to the citizens of this Circuit, then I believe we all benefit; and in this case, the lives of several South Carolinians have already been saved.”

The South Carolina Overdose Prevention Project will ensure a collaborative effort among state and local partners to expand the reach of naloxone administration to all communities demonstrating high need using naloxone administration as a strategy. The goal of this initiative is to reduce the overall mortality related to opioid misuse. The objectives of this project are to establish statewide infrastructure for naloxone administration, increase the number of first responders and community members trained in the administration of naloxone by 25% each year of the grant, and to ensure access to naloxone for those individuals seeking treatment who are at risk of opioid overdose for each and every client that wishes to have the drug.

In fiscal year (FY) 2015, state-funded treatment agencies saw 5,370 individuals seeking treatment for an opiate problem, a more than 177% increase in opiate users seeking help from 2003 to 2015. From FY2011 through FY2015, South Carolinians made 17,400 visits to emergency departments with an opioid dependency diagnosis, representing a 103.57% increase during this period.

From 2012 through 2015, EMTs administered naloxone 12,642 times, with a 20% increase in administrations of the drug from 2012 to 2015.

The mission of DAODAS is to support healthy individuals, healthy families, and healthy communities. A cabinet agency, DAODAS is charged with ensuring quality services to prevent or reduce the negative consequences of substance use and addictions.

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