Charleston looking for feedback on how to best spend opioid settlement money

Published: Sep. 7, 2022 at 3:52 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 7, 2022 at 7:49 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The City of Charleston is one city in the Lowcountry that will receive a portion of over $360 million in settlement funds meant to help address the opioid crisis in South Carolina.

The city received just over $8 million as part of an opioid settlement fund passed by the statehouse earlier this year, which will go toward decreasing substance abuse and overdoses in the community.

“There is fentanyl everywhere in everything,” Charleston Recovery Center Director Annie Blanton said. “Young kids who are trying marijuana say for the first time could possibly have fentanyl in it. They can die.”

Charleston Wellness Coordinator Paul Wieters said the city will have to spend those dollars over the next 18 years, with the first three years being designated as a planning period.

The city said they are looking to make Narcan accessible. They are also looking at existing programs regarding fire, police and the homeless but are looking for the community’s help.

“I know the city has gone to other cities to look at best practices where the money is already being spent to find out what’s really making, what’s the best practice out there to help out,” Wieters said.

Blanton said cracking down on prescriptions and alternative drugs is one way to cut down on overdoses.

“We have a lot of people coming through here that come out of medical facilities with more medications than they’ll ever need,” Blanton said. “Prescribing a narcotic to a drug addict is the beginning of an end. They will eventually go to a drug of their choice, so maybe some education on that. Being able to flag accounts, so they can’t purchase them at their local drug store.”

She also said expanding education will be the best use of the city’s dollars, as they cut down on a problem that is plaguing the area.

“All I have to do is go into a hospital or an emergency room and tell them, ‘I’ve sprained my ankle. Can I get some painkillers?’ And, generally speaking, if I’m flagged, I get them,” Blanton said. “I am an addict and an alcoholic. I cannot take those things.”

The planning period for the settlement fund starts next month.

“Let’s get them off of it. Let’s get them some help,” Blanton said. “Let’s really support some rehabilitation centers, teach them what is wrong with them and what they need to get out of it instead of giving them more drugs.”

If you would like to leave feedback for the city on how it should best make use of the funds, email your suggestions to Paul Wieters at