HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - Locals and law enforcement gathered at Living Water Baptist Church Thursday night to discuss the growing heroin epidemic in Horry County. The community meeting focused on the problem of prescription pain medication and how the effects can lead to using heroin.
Elected officials and experts spoke urgently about the heroin epidemic, saying this problem can't be fixed by one group, but will take the whole community to fight against it. However, the strongest message tonight came from a mother, who lost her son to an overdose just five months ago.
"I won't ever have good days again. This is my son. In 13 days he would have been 27 years old," said Wendy.
"People say to me, have kids changed in the last 20 years? Kids have not changed. Kids are the same. Parenting has changed in the last 20 years," said North Myrtle Beach High School Athletic Director Joe Quigley.
Others like Horry County Solicitor Jimmy Richardson, and State Senator Greg Hembree spoke about the dangers of prescription pain killers. They said the new wave of heroin addicts can be attributed to pills like Oxycontin, Lortab and Percocet.
"75 percent of people that are addicted to heroin began their addiction with opioids. So you can't disconnect these two issues. They travel together," said Greg Hembree.
The message was unanimous: this is a serious problem that cannot be fixed overnight. However, one former addict said there is still hope.
"I didn't have anything - no place to go. I had a book bag full of dirty clothes. That was the only thing I had. And now after six years, I just got married this year. I own a business," said one former heroin addict.