Opioid Crisis in the Midlands


COLUMBIA, SC (WACH) ---Tyler Crochet is recovering from opioid addiction. A Florida native he said his obsession began in 2004 during his sophomore year in high school.

The addiction would grow worse during college. "The girl who I was dating had a shoulder surgery, and I started to abuse some of the pain pills that were prescribed," Crochet said. "When the parent supervision went away, I kind of aggressively used more and I was addicted to pain pills."

He said it was a daily routine of seven pills a day. His drugs of choice Hydrocodone and Oxycontin.

"It's all you think about, it's all you do, it's a full-time job you,” Crochet said. “You have to get it, you have find it just to feel normal." That feeling nearly cost him his life twice.

Crochet said after suffering two drug overdoses and pains from withdrawal, it wouldn't be until 2011 that he'd enroll in a recovery program. "It's not as easy as saying, I want to stop I want to stop,” Crochet said. “A lot of times it requires hospitalization, detox treatment some kind of continuing care."

Julie Cole with the Courage Center in Lexington said the program is ran by peers and is a recovery support for the abusers and their families. "That includes treatment resources, recovery support, housing,” Cole said. “Anything that we can connect people to in the community that can help support recovery."

A long-term recovering addict, she said she's noticed more teens becoming addicted to the drugs. "What the opioid epidemic introduced to young people, in particular, is higher risk behaviors at younger ages,” Cole said. “So whereas when I was getting into recovery using needles, IV drug use was like the bottom of the barrel, it's a normalize behavior now."

Right now, the center sees addicts who after treatment, return to their same community without the proper resources to fight the addiction and that's where she said the Courage Center steps in. "Unlike a mutual program who might have mutual aid programs that might have sponsorship in the 12 steps, we're not offering a specific program,” Cole said. “We're coming alongside people and helping them uncover their process to determine what their path looks like."

House Representative Chip Huggins is a member of the South Carolina Opioid Abuse Prevention Study Committee and sponsor of House Bill 3083.

It allows first responders to use the antidote Naloxone for users who overdose. "Now we're tasked with figuring out ways to monitor those medications, to somehow reign in this criminal aspect of it,” Huggins said. “We've got the illegal drugs that are just rampant and very cheap and inexpensive."

According to a study by the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control. In 2015, first responders used the antidote more than 4000 times and more than 6000 the following year. "It's not going to be legislative,” Huggins said. "It's going to be someone having a place to turn to when they realize they've got a problem and someone that can really give them some help that didn't just sit there and show up."

The road to recovery continues, even after years of being drug-free. In 2018 the 27-year-old will graduate with a master's degree in public administration from the University of South Carolina. "Everyone has the potential to find recovery,” Crochet said. “They're sick people, and when we can treat them like sick people, and see it for that and not bad people, I think it's a lot easier to be more tolerant and loving towards them."

Currently, ten bills are pending review by the South Carolina Opioid Abuse Prevention Study Committee and preventatives measures like 'Drug Take Back' are increasing throughout the state.

You can find more information about drug addiction below:

Courage Center- A community of abundant opportunities, love, and compassion, for young people and families seeking recovery from substance use.

LRADAC- LRADAC cares for the needs of the citizens of Lexington and Richland Counties of South Carolina. We offer a wide array of prevention, intervention and treatment programs in locations convenient to residents of both counties.

Unwanted pills can be dropped off at the below South Carolina locations.

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