Lowcountry nonprofit raises alarm about spike in drug overdoses
CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - A nonprofit group that provides resources for people to get on their way to recovery or sobriety is alerting the community about a spike of overdoses in the Charleston area.
WakeUp Carolina issued an overdose alert on social media to warn the community about a spike in overdoses over the weekend. They said they believe the overdoses were due to a “bad batch” of cocaine that was laced with very high levels of fentanyl.
“We were getting frequent phone calls about overdoses with people having to go into the hospital,” Senior Program Director Tim Maguire said. “We just decided at that point that we needed to put it out there.”
Maguire said there were around eleven overdoses by the end of this past weekend that they were aware of.
“The level of fentanyl in it was just very high, so the overdose just spiked really, really fast,” Maguire said.
The organization receives calls from families they work with who give them updates if something is going on in an area. Maguire said it’s hard to track because there is not really a cohesive database out there.
The summertime is usually when not only overdoses spike, but also requests for treatment, according to Maguire.
Dr. Daniel Lewis, an emergency physician at Roper Saint Francis, said they have seen an uptick in overdoses among all ages, but especially the younger population in South Carolina. Lewis said the cause can be attributed to narcotics being more easily available, and fentanyl and other higher dose narcotics getting mixed into party drugs or recreational drugs like cocaine and marijuana.
“We’ve seen nationally a very concerning rise of young people dying from overdosing and it’s very challenging,” Lewis said.
Lewis said just one hit or dose of a recreational drug could be life threatening.
“If it’s not been FDA approved, if it’s something you’re buying from a smoke shop, if it’s something you’re buying from a friend or someone on the street and it doesn’t have a label, you really don’t know what you’re getting,” Lewis said. “So certainly the misconception is it may be safe to do if it’s just one time, but the reality is one time using these drugs can be life threatening and we definitely do not recommend it.”
WakeUp Carolina also helps educate the public and raise awareness about battling drug addiction and avoiding overdoses.
To that end, the group will join Charleston Center and the Mount Pleasant Police Department for a community overdose prevention training and Narcan kit distribution on Wednesday at 6 p.m. at Mount Pleasant Town Hall.
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