State, local leaders announce $500,000 in funding for opioid crisis along the Grand Strand

State, local leaders announce $500,000 in funding for opioid crisis along the Grand Strand

MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) - State and local leaders gathered at Myrtle Beach City Hall Friday morning to announce funding to help combat the opioid crisis in the Grand Strand.

Approximately $500,000 of state money will be allocated for area leaders to use to help fight the opioid epidemic. The city of Myrtle Beach received the grant back in February, but the funds were formally announced Friday.

Officials at the press conference said the ways the money will be used have not officially been determined as of now, but they know some of it will likely go toward adding peer support specialists at New Directions of Horry County.

As of now, the organization only has one peer support specialist. His name is William Howsare.

Howsare has helped more than 300 people over the last two years get on the path to recovery. He said his workload is extremely high right now.

“It’s very hard for me to be in multiple places at one time," Howsare said. "And often times, people call from different locations at the same time, receiving services. It’s tough to differentiate who gets to be seen first and who doesn’t. This will be able to allocate resources to all individuals at one time.”

Howsare was excited to hear about the $500,000 coming toward the Grand Strand.

“I am absolutely blown away," he said. "I’m floored. It’s unbelievable.”

Representative Russell Fry said now is a crucial time to get this funding, because the coronavirus pandemic has seen an increase in drug use.

“With increased anxiety, with increased job loss, with increased isolation, we see people kind of reverting back to old habits,” Fry said.

The funding to add more peer support specialists will help recovering addicts like Steven Gause.

Gause went from being a homeless opioid addict in Myrtle Beach to living in a three-bedroom house in Greenwood, S.C. after working with Howsare, who he credits with his recovery.

“Really, he put a huge hand in in saving my life," Gause said. "Without him, without that decision, without him seeing something in me, I’d probably be dead right now, and I love that guy with all my heart.”

Copyright 2020 WMBF. All rights reserved.