Council chairman proposes jail time for opiate overdose victims revived by Narcan

Council chairman proposes jail time for opiate overdose victims revived by Narcan

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) – The Horry County Coroner's Office has seen between three and four deaths each week from heroin overdoses over the past year, according to Coroner Robert Edge.

However, many overdose victims are revived by Narcan before they ever actually die. Horry County Council Chairman Mark Lazarus said he wants to see consequences for those people after they've been revived, so paramedics don't end up right back in front of them again.

"We've even found that two people together, the one that called, they'll come take care of that person with the Narcan and hours later it's the same two people, but it's the other person," Lazarus said.

At Monday morning's Horry County Public Safety Committee meeting, he proposed the idea of creating an ordinance to jail people revived with Narcan for 72 hours in a portion of the jail not being used right now and offer them treatment.

"They'll think about, 'If I do this and I overdose I'm going to have to spend time in jail because of it,'" Lazarus said.

He asked the county's legal team to look at the legality of drafting such an ordinance and he's waiting to hear the response on that.

Lazarus said breaking up drug rings is still a constant focus for law enforcement and that will continue because without a supply of heroin, people won't be able to get it.

North Myrtle Beach recently received a supply of Narcan, a drug that can reverse the effects of an opiate overdose in seconds.

"Basically, the Narcan is pushed in their nose, one milligram in each nostril, and they basically wake right up." said Derrick Heim, with the North Myrtle Beach Department of Public Safety.

North Myrtle Beach is now the third fire department in the state allowed to administer Narcan, with another being Myrtle Beach.

Since March of this year, 30 overdoses from opiate drugs have been logged in North Myrtle Beach, with four of those being fatal. That does not include pill usage.

Noreen Beck said she knows the pain heroin can bring to families. Her son, Robert, died Oct. 4, 2015, at 24 years of age.

"I got the phone call telling me that he was dead. I thought that he was in a car accident," she said. "I never thought that it was an overdose."

Beck is in the process of getting non-profit status for a state chapter of a national group called Bikers Against Heroin. She wants to host fundraisers to help addicts break their addictions by giving people funds to go to rehab.

"I can't let somebody else go through the pain that I've gone through," she said.

Heim said the need for Narcan is dire now more than ever, with Horry County coming in second last year for most Narcan doses given in South Carolina, at 509.

"Horry County has already given 718 Narcan uses this year and we're going to get to about 1,100 for the year," he said. "So we're going to more than double Narcan use."

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