DHEC Releases Drug Overdose Report for 2020

Daniel Prince

Union County reported 9 overdose deaths in 2020, up from 2 in 2019

The SC Department of Health and Environmental Control recently released its annual Drug Overdose Deaths Statistical Report for South Carolina. The data shows a significant increase in drug overdose deaths for the year 2020, which marked the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in the US.

From 2019-2020, the total number of opioid-involved overdose deaths in the state rose by 59%, from 876 to 1400, and the number of all drug overdoses increased by 53%, from 1131 to 1734. Every age range statewide saw increases in the number of opioid-related overdose deaths, with the largest increases seen from ages 25-54. Significant increases were also seen in ages 18-24 and 55-64. The data is derived from death certificates registered with DHEC’s Office of Vital Statistics and represents the deaths of individuals that occurred in the state, regardless of whether they were a resident. The number of deaths due to fentanyl more than doubled, from 537 to 1100.

Union County listed 9 drug overdose deaths in 2020, up from 2 in 2019. Of the 9, 6 were prescription drugs, 5 were opioid-related, and 3 were listed as psychostimulants with abuse potential. Specifically, 5 overdose deaths in 2020 were from fentanyl, with one each listed from methadone and cocaine.

55% of opioid-related deaths were by white males, with 28% by white females, 13% by black and other male, and 4% by black and other female. Cocaine-related overdose deaths primarily affected males, as well, with 44% by white males and 28% by black and other males. 18% were by white females, and 10% were by black and other females. By education level, 2/3 or more of all overdose deaths occurred in people with a high school diploma or less.

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