$340K to fight opioid addiction in Kershaw County

Published: Jun. 8, 2023 at 11:48 PM EDT
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CAMDEN, S.C. (WIS) - The South Carolina Opioid Recover Fund (SCORF) recently awarded Kershaw County $340,000 to fight what council members are calling an “opioid epidemic” in their community.

The receipt of the opioid settlement money was made possible by Kershaw County Council after they voted to accept and direct proceeds to the ALPHA Behavioral Health Center (ALPHA) in Camden.

The push for increased resources from elected officials came after at least 19 fentanyl-related overdoses and four deaths within Kershaw County last November. This, according to ALPHA.

“Specifically, here in Kershaw County, the bulk of [SCORF] money is going to treat opiate addiction and deal firsthand with those who are addicted to opioids,” said Derek Shoemake, district three councilman for Kershaw County.

Shoemake told WIS the ALPHA Center is Kershaw County’s premier addiction treatment center, offering a variety of resources both inside and outside the realm of drug abuse.

WIS was told the opioid abatement funding will go towards a series of live-saving initiatives hailed by elected officials, medical personnel, and first responders as lifesaving.

“Narcan availability will be a big part of this initial, first step. We firmly believe that Narcan can save lives if it is available, really in every back pocket in the county,” said Kevin Rhodes, Opioid Abatement Coalition Director for ALPHA.

Rhodes said ALPHA’s mission is and will continue to be awareness across the public and private sectors of Kershaw County.

Initiatives include educating residents on the severity of this crisis, how to detect drug abuse as well as react during an overdose, as well as where to go for imperative resources.

On top of making Narcan Nasal Spray readily available through a series of initiatives still in the works, Rhodes is anticipating drug take-back events, distribution of drug-deactivation products, and further supply of fentanyl test strips.

“I think more knowledge is what’s called for and more awareness is what’s called for in a crisis like this… Whether that’s cleaning out their medicine cabinet, disposing of their medication properly, whether that’s having Narcan available if - heaven forbid them, or a family member were to need it - or just general awareness of what to look for,” continued Rhodes.

While ALPHA prepares the initiatives made possible by SCORF, they encourage readers to stop by their office to pick up life-saving supplies such as Narcan and drug deactivation products.

The items are supplied for free with no questions asked.

“The fundamental job of the government is to protect its people. I would argue that there is no more fundamental job of government than to make sure its citizens are secure. When you have a drug ravaging the street, you have to move, and you have to act. So, any amount of money that we can do to combat what is — as we mentioned earlier, an absolute crisis—to protect the citizens of Kershaw County, is squarely the fundamental job of any government anywhere,” concluded Shoemake.

County Administrator Danny Templar said he anticipates more rounds of SCORF funding for years to come.

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