FLORENCE, SC (WMBF) - Prescription drug abuse is on the rise, and experts say this is especially true in young people, who are getting their hands on these pills more and more.
The Circle Park Behavioral Health Services, along with the Florence County Coalition for Drug and Alcohol Abuse, hosted a summit training and workshop Tuesday afternoon to give a more in-depth look at the prescription drug issues facing the community. Local law enforcement, officials with the Department of Social Services and Florence School District One representatives and guidance counselors were invited to listen in.
Topics such as the pharmacology of prescription drugs, enforcement, current trends, relation to the rise of the heroin epidemic and community resources were discussed.
Officials with CPBHS said prescription drug abuse is a silent epidemic it is trying to be a voice for. CEO Randy Cole said the most important thing is to educate people and let them know that help is out there.
Raising awareness of drug misuse and to help decrease the social availability of these prescription drugs is what Cole said is a main focus. "Xanax, Valium, oxycodone and OxyContin are some of the ones we are seeing when people are admitted in our treatment program," Cole said. "But an opioid is an opioid. If it is an opioid drug, we treat them all the same."
Cole added the quicker the community gets answers, the quicker the issues will go away.
"The parents sitting at home, the grandparents, the loved ones, the educators, the after school programs, these are our folks, our churches," he said. "These folks are the ones that see the problem and we have to educate those folks to be able to identify the problem and educate others around them."
Typically, prescription drugs can lead to heroin, Cole said.
"Of course any drug that your body has to have, it is going to be a drug that you're going to look for other things," he said.
This school year a brand new extensive intervention program in Florence School District One was created as a part of the new discipline code for students who have substance abuse problems.
Kelvin Wymbs, director of secondary education, was in attendance at the prescription drug summit and gave CPBHS a lot of credit for their efforts.
"As a school system, we didn't have answers and as parents they didn't have answers," he said. "Organizations like Circle Park give us those answers when we have problems that we can't solve."
Wymbs added it also gives students a second chance.
"But it's also a way of making sure we give our students options when they otherwise would not have options," he said. "We currently have several seniors that our normal policy would have been expulsion and through this program they will be graduating in spring."