MARION COUNTY, SC (WMBF) – The opioid addiction is soaring in Marion County and for the first time in more than 40 years, Trinity Behavioral Care is expanding its drug and alcohol abuse care facility.
Trinity Behavioral Care's mission is to prevent and reduce the impact of drug and alcohol use in the counties it serves. Those include Marion, Marlboro and Dillon counties.
Members of the organization said out of 1,700 patients, more than 700 are in Marion County. The current facility is in historic downtown Marion and the building hasn't been updated in years.
Trinity Behavioral Care needed to expand in order to continue to meet the needs of its patients.
"Addiction has become a real problem and it's something I feel like covers all areas," said Shelly Marsh, prevention specialist for Trinity Behavioral Care. "Basically coming from the school system where I worked previously, you see it affect the education in the students. Addiction is something that encompasses all areas and it's something we need to focus on so it will impact the entire county."
The organization purchased a 2-acre property on Guyton Drive near U.S. 501 behind the Walmart to build a brand new 5,000-square-foot facility. The hope is to break ground and hold a ribbon cutting in the spring.
For the past three years Donny Brock, executive director of Trinity Behavioral, has been working to get enough funding. The Marion County Health Foundation is giving a $400,000 grant, along with $650,000 from the South Carolina Department of Alcohol and other Drug Services.
Trinity officials said it couldn't be done without the assistance of Sen. Kent Williams, Rep. Lucas Atkinson, Roger Kirby, and former representative Wayne George.
"No. 1, it will be beautiful and modern, and people will be proud of it and we can do better care in it. No. 2, sitting right there right off Highway 501, we will have better access to Mullins and certainly better access to folks in Grescham," Brock said.
The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control runs data based on opioid deaths and overdoses, and Brock said right now, Marion County is the fourth most opioid-affected county in the state.
"Marion has been hit very hard by the opioid epidemic," he said. "We are by far the largest rural provider of opioid-specific medication assistance therapy in the state. That's all three of our counties, not just Marion County."
Marsh hopes the expansion will do even more in the county.
"We've always struggled with unemployment rates and I hope this can be something to spark a start in some new businesses coming in," she said. "In fact, there a lot of other parcels of land and after we get out here, I think other businesses will want to expand and so forth. That would be wonderful."
Click here. to find out how Trinity Behavioral Care can help. The organization hopes to be up and running in the new building the end of 2018.