HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - Alert, advise and educate. That's the message community leaders want to get across at the Community Opiate and Heroin Awareness Day meeting.
Organizers of Tuesday's meeting want to sit down collectively with a network of people to continue to figure out ways to eliminate the use of heroin and other opioids in our community.
On an average day in the United States, 3,900 people initiate non-medical use of prescription opioids. Each day, 580 people use heroin. A total of 78 people die from an opioid-related overdose.
Bringing this closer to home, South Carolina is home to the largest increase in heroin deaths among all 50 states. And, Horry County has the highest number of heroin-related deaths among the state's 46 counties.
Those numbers are part of the focus of tonight's meeting. You'll also hear from the Solicitor's Office about heroin arrests and educational programs. Shoreline Behavioral Health Services will also be on hand to talk about how to help people receive treatment for their addictions. They'll also discuss the topic of mental health and how those problems can be reversed.
Members of the Horry County Coroner's Office will tell stories you'll never forget - to give you their perspective when they're called to scenes of overdoses. But, organizers said there's one, even more powerful message to be told, those of mothers who know the pain of addiction.
"You'll talk to those parents, you'll hear the pain in their heart, but the message that it's not all over for those that were able to steer their children away from substance abuse, that got their children in treatment, there's a success story to tell," said Event Chairman Bennie Swans.
Organizers want to take the impact beyond tonight's meeting. The Building Bridges of Healing Coalition is an initiative focusing on prevention, treatment, and the healing process of people affected by opiate and heroin addiction.
Beyond the meeting today, where faith based communities, law enforcement agencies, victims and other County leaders will come together to discuss the heroin and opioid epidemic, this organization is looking for volunteers to help develop strategies to overcome the problem.
When things happen in the community, you'll be notified and then encouraged to put those strategies into action and go out in the areas at the center of the problem.
Specifically, to persuade people to turn away from drugs and toward treatment. They want you to share stories of success and remind people addiction is not death - that there is hope for recovery to stand strong and have a quality of life.
But also to build an understanding that everyone needs to play their part, and understand fighting the epidemic is not just an issue for law enforcement to solve.
"Let's work together to run this campaign in a way that is effective, that it alerts, advises, educates and engages the members of the society in a positive way to solve problems. We can do it," Swans said.
If you're interested in joining this initiative, contact Benne Swans at (843) 251-2061 or (843) 903-4939 or email: email@example.com. The community meeting is tonight at 6 at the Mt. Olive AME Church. It's located on Carver Street.