Drug and Alcohol Addiction in Columbia, South Carolina
Columbia, located in Richland County, is the capital and second-largest city in South Carolina with an estimated population of 134,309. With major interstate roads leading to and from drug hotspots like Atlanta and Charlotte, Columbia suffers from the trafficking of illicit substances. The University of South Carolina and Fort Jackson, a local US Army base, also contribute to the city’s size and substance abuse issues.
Illicit drugs like opiates, pain killers, and alcohol are among the most commonly abused substances. Record numbers of overdose deaths in recent years have been caused by prescription opioids, followed by fentanyl and heroin. Often, overdose deaths involve more than one drug and affect people between the ages of 45 and 54 more than any other age group.
Columbia’s Opioid Crisis
Columbia’s opioid crisis began with the increase in pain killer prescriptions and the practice of “doctor shopping” (i.e. visiting multiple doctors for additional prescriptions). Five million pain killer prescriptions are filled annually in South Carolina—nearly one prescription for every South Carolinian.
Many individuals develop opioid dependencies and addictions after regular use of prescription opioids—even when they follow the instructions on their prescription. Since 2015, the State Law Enforcement Division has seen a 650% increase in the number of drug cases involving fentanyl—an opioid 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine, prescribed after surgery or during cancer treatment.
In 2016, South Carolina Emergency Medical Services treated opioid overdoses nearly 17 times a day. That same year, the number of opioid-related deaths was twice as high as the number of homicides or drunk driving deaths, and 70.3% of all drug overdose deaths involved opioids.
The following year, the rise in opioid use in South Carolina led to a 14% increase in fatal overdoses involving heroin—a drug many painkiller users turn to once they are no longer able to secure a prescription legally or when medication ceases to produce the same effects. State data shows that 4 of 5 heroin users in the state took prescription opioids before their heroin use began. Richland County, with the majority of its constituents living in Columbia, has some of the highest rates of overdose death and Naloxone administrations in the state.
In 2017, the governor of South Carolina declared a statewide public health emergency to combat opioid deaths and signed an executive order limiting initial, post-hospital prescriptions for addictive drugs.
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Alcohol Abuse in Columbia
Columbia suffers from more alcohol-related injuries and deaths than other parts of the state due in large part to its large population of college-age residents. South Carolina ranks in the top five states for number of alcohol-related vehicle accidents and deaths. In 2016, alcohol-related hospital transportations increased 158% at the University of South Carolina from the previous year. The majority of these transportations were individuals under the legal drinking age of 21.
Data shows that the university has a 7% higher rate of heavy- and binge drinking among first-year students than the national average. Unfortunately, USC’s drinking statistics rated higher than the national average in every category. Five Points, a neighborhood popular among students, faces increasing amounts of alcohol-related crimes (such as vandalism and assault). Curbing alcohol use and abuse has become a point of contention for students and residents in Columbia after the deaths of some USC students from alcohol poisoning.
Addiction Treatment in Columbia
South Carolina’s Department of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Services (DAODAS) estimates that 386,000 individuals suffer from substance abuse problems that require immediate intervention and treatment. To serve the various demographics suffering from addiction disorders, Columbia has dozens of Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous meetings available throughout the city. Twelve-step programs and support groups run daily for those in recovery or who are maintaining stabilization.
The DAODAS has also launched multiple initiatives to combat abuse disorders. Its Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) Initiative is designed to “identify and intervene with patients who are at a moderate or high risk for psychological or other healthcare problems related to their substance use, as well as related healthcare costs.” The program increases access to services for communities that are traditionally underserved.
LRADAC is a state-licensed treatment provider under the DAODAS network in Columbia which provides intervention services, outpatient (and intensive) outpatient treatment, and detox services.
Some individuals find it more beneficial to travel out-of-state for recovery. Traveling for treatment can remove you from stressful triggers and better immerse patients in high-quality care. If you need assistance planning your path to recovery, contact a treatment provider now to get started.