COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - A new vending machine made an appearance at the State House this week and it’s not selling snacks. Instead, it’s providing information to help combat the state opioid crisis.
The Just Plain Killers campaign was launched last year by the South Carolina Department of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Services (DAODAS) and the campaign also has the support of Governor Henry McMaster.
In fact, the governor debuted the campaign’s new vending machine during an opioid summit he hosted in 2018. The machine hands out free doses of opioid information with stats specific to the Palmetto State. After being introduced during the governor’s summit last year, the vending machine then moved to the State Fair and already nearly 450,000 people have used the machine. Even more people had the opportunity to do so with the machine housed at the State House Thursday.
Governor McMaster said the best way to tackle the state’s opioid issue is through awareness, and that’s just what the Just Plain Killers campaign and vending machine will continue to do.
“Last year, there were approximately 5,000,000 opioid prescriptions issued in South Carolina. That’s one prescription of opioids for everybody in the state and usually, history shows us, the record show us the prescriptions have been many more than have been required and we’ve developed an opioid habit and so we’re encouraging people to break that habit,” said Governor McMaster.
State leaders said we’ve seen an increase in the number of opioid deaths across South Carolina for the third year in a row. During a joint news conference with DAODAS and the governor on Thursday, McMaster announced that there were almost 750 deaths from the opioids in 2017, a drug he said is largely targeting teenagers. According to the governor, of the nearly 60% of teens who first try the drug to get high, 60% of them are 15 years old or younger.
As part of the Just Plain Killers campaign, one line of defense is to eliminate unused opioids to prevent them from getting in the wrong hands with events like the DEA Take Back event held last week. There are also permanent Take Back locations throughout the state.
“Between those two efforts, we’ve collected more unused prescription drugs just in the past few months than we have in the history of the state,” Sara Goldsby the DAODAS director, said. “It’s with the awareness of folks knowing to get rid of unused prescription drugs - take them to a safe location, and especially on that DEA Takeback Day. Between those events, we collected over 11,000 pounds of unused prescription medications to be safely incinerated. So, we know that the campaign is working and it’s getting rid of these unused drugs.”
At the State House, a bill that would create a database to better monitor certain prescriptions, including opioids, has already passed in the House and just passed its first hurdle in the Senate this week.