‘I think it’s going to get worse’: Coroner weighs in opioid deaths rising in Horry County

‘I think it’s going to get worse’: Coroner weighs in opioid deaths rising in Horry County

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - As the country continues to deal with a nationwide opioid epidemic, the number of opioid-related overdose deaths in South Carolina is rising.

The numbers paint a grim picture. A report from the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control shows from 2017 to 2018 the number of opioid-related overdose deaths in the state increased from 748 to 816.

Last year in Horry County, there were 85 opioid-related deaths which is up from 77 the year prior. It’s the third-most in the state.

“In the last roughly 40 days we’ve had 12 deaths that will be, or will most likely be, classified as a fentanyl or heroin overdose," said Horry County Coroner Robert Edge.

Edge said despite the county’s access to the life-saving, overdose reversal drug Naloxone, it isn’t enough to reverse the rate of opioid deaths.

“I think Narcan has probably kept our numbers from going up but they haven’t reduced any,” said Edge.

Edge believes the number of opioid-related deaths will continue to climb, and said while it’s hard to pinpoint a solution to the surging epidemic, education and more resources to help curb the issue on the ground could be a start.

“I think it’s going to get worse. And it’s bad to stay that, but we have not curtailed the amount of drugs coming in and how they come into the United States and until that problem’s solved, we’re not going to see a drop,” he said.

As far as 2019, the Horry County Coroner’s Office said for the first two-months of this year alone there were 14 heroin and fentanyl-related overdose deaths, a number that could still change as toxicology reports become finalized.

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