Nation, State, And County In Midst Of Opioid Crisis

The nation, the state, and the county are in the midst of a crisis due to the opioid epidemic.
Opioids are painkillers such as morphine, hydrocodone, oxycodone, and even an illegal drug such as heroin or pills such as Percocet or lorcet.
President Donald Trump and Governor Henry McMaster have both declared public health emergencies for the opioid epidemic.
According to a Presidential Proclamation from 2017, nationally:
“Approximately 64,000 Americans died (in 2016) of drug overdoses in the United States, the majority of them from opioids.”
“The number of infants born with opioid dependence has more than quadrupled in the last decade.”
“Nearly 100 Americans, on average, die each day from opioid overdoses, and overdose rates are highest among people between 25 to 54 years old.”
In declaring the public health emergency in South Carolina, Governor McMaster issued two executive orders – one establishes the Opioid Emergency Response Team and the other directs the State Department of Health and Human Services to limit initial opioid prescriptions for acute and post-operative pain to a maximum of five days for state Medicaid recipients, according to a news release from the Governor’s Office.
According to S.C. DHEC’s website:
The deaths of 550 people in South Carolina in 2016 occurred from an overdose with a prescription opioid drug.
“Fatal overdoses involving heroin increased by 14 percent from 2015 to 2016.”
“In 2015, the number of deaths from heroin and opioid overdoses in South Carolina surpassed the number of homicides.”
Another interesting fact of note from S.C. DHEC noted in the S.C. Municipal Association’s “Uptown” publication is that “In 2016, more than 5 million opioid prescriptions were dispensed statewide. South Carolina has a total population of 4.9 million people.”
The problem exists in Dillon County as well. Dillon County “has one of the highest prescribing rates in the state – 127.2 prescriptions per 100 persons,” according to information presented at a recent Dillon County Council meeting. S.C. DHEC statistics show three deaths in Dillon County due to opioid abuse and 41 counts of EMS Narcan administration in Dillon County in 2016. Narcan is a drug that can help reverse the effects of opioid overdose.
The CDC has asked doctors to be wiser on prescribing opioids, to take another look at what they are doing to manage chronic pain, and to help those who have prescriptions to manage them and to help them look at alternatives.
At Dillon Family Medicine, doctors are decreasing their prescribing of these medicines, and they are following the new guidelines, which they actually were doing this long before the federal guidelines came out.
“If patients truly require chronic pain medicine and if we at Dillon Family Medicine have to manage the case, we require regular follow up visits and routine drug screening to insure proper usage,” said Tim Fitzgibbon, MD, FAAFP, Dillon.
“We are continuing to urge alternative choices to narcotics for pain control. Prescribing benzodiazepines (anxiety pills) along with opioid pain medicines to the same patient is contraindicated due to risk of over sedation and falling. This is an important issue for the elderly,” Fitzgibbon said
“Patients need to be aware that the government and insurance companies are dictating the management of these medicines now and limiting quantities prescribed,” said Fitzgibbon. “The government and insurance companies are also not allowing certain drugs to be prescribed and requiring prior authorization for the medicines. So it is out of the prescribers’ hands now, and patients shouldn’t get angry or upset at their provider if they can’t ‘get what they want.'”
“The horse is out of the barn now, and the government and insurance companies control the prescribing of opioid pain medicine. It is high time for it, due to chronic abuse, addiction, countless lives lost, and families who have been devastated by it all,” said Fitzgibbon.
There is help available locally and in the Florence area for those who have become addicted.
Locally, one can seek help from Trinity Behavioral Care, Tri-County Mental Health or their local spiritual advisor or pastor.
Those with medical concern should contact their medical provider.

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