Gov. Henry McMaster Announces Opioid Emergency Response Plan

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COLUMBIA, S.C. – Governor Henry McMaster today announced the South Carolina Opioid Emergency Response Plan, which details strategy and guidance developed to support state and local efforts to combat the opioid epidemic. The state Opioid Emergency Response Plan was developed as part of the ongoing collaboration of more than two dozen organizations that comprise the recently formed S.C. Opioid Emergency Response Team (SCOERT), which was created by Governor McMaster in December of 2017.

“This plan is a living, breathing document that we will add to and amend as we encounter new issues and achieve successes,” Governor McMaster said. “We will combat the opioid crisis the only way our state knows how: as one team collaborating and sharing talents and resources to help the people of South Carolina.”

The State Law Enforcement Division and the S.C. Department of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Services serve as the lead agencies of the SCOERT. The team has identified four focus areas to address the opioid problem, including: education and communication, prevention and response, treatment and recovery, and coordinated law enforcement strategies.

Below are the different sections of the plan, which will be used to guide the statewide response to the opioid crisis:

Opioid Emergency Response Team Base Plan

Annex 1 – Educate and Communicate (Annex 1 will help inform the conversations that physicians have with their patients regarding pain and pain management, as well as continue raising the general population’s awareness of the dangers of opioid use.)

Annex 2 – Prevent and Respond (Annex 2 will emphasize first-line prevention of opioid use disorder, with agencies coordinating a public health approach to addressing primary prevention, treatment, and rescue actions.)

Annex 3 – Treat and Recover (Annex 3 will work to eliminate barriers to treatment access – including the shame associated with seeking help – and to develop more treatment and recovery opportunities.)

Annex 4 – Coordinated Law Enforcement (Annex 4 will help expand drug take-back programs, increase resources to combat illicit opioid supply chains, reduce the number of fatal opioid overdoses, and facilitate access to care instead of incarceration.)

Similar to existing emergency response plans coordinated by SCEMD, the state’s opioid emergency plan begins with basic guidance for how organizations should work together to combat the opioid epidemic in South Carolina. The basic plan is followed by annexes that detail specifics for how organizations should address the four focus areas. The base plan and its annexes are designed to be evolving documents that can be modified and adapted to address the needs of local communities.

The SCOERT effort is already showing tangible results of agencies working together. A new map-based data portal was recently added to the state’s opioid crisis education campaign website, justplainkillers.com/data/, which displays opioid-related mortality data and is searchable by county. The data displayed is provided as part of the SCOERT collaboration, including DAODAS, the S.C. Dept. of Health and Environmental Control, SCEMD and others.

The South Carolina Opioid Emergency Response Team is a collaborative effort created by executive order issued by Governor Henry McMaster. The SCOERT is comprised of state and local agencies with expertise in substance use disorders and treatment, public health and medical affairs, emergency response and planning, as well as law enforcement coordination and strategy. For more information, visit justplainkillers.com.

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