Charleston Sheriff Al Cannon, other South Carolina law enforcement officials discuss opioid epidemic

October 5, 2017 GMT

Charleston County Sheriff Al Cannon will be joined by several local, state and federal law enforcement officials Thursday afternoon for a press conference addressing an ongoing epidemic of opioid drug abuse in the area and throughout the state.

Cannon will be joined by representatives from each of the major tri-county law enforcement agencies, as well as 9th Circuit Solicitor Scarlett Wilson’s Office, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, FBI, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and other agencies.

While South Carolina has avoided the full brunt of opioid abuse being felt in New England, Ohio, West Virginia and other areas, officials say the Palmetto State should not rest easy.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were 100 heroin overdose deaths in this state in 2015, compared with 1,444 deaths in Ohio, a state with twice the population of South Carolina. In South Carolina, those deaths increased by 57 percent between 2014 and 2015.

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In an effort to curb abuse of prescription opioid pain relievers, like OxyContin, state officials implemented a mandatory prescription drug monitoring program this year.

In April, state Speaker of the House Jay Lucas created the House Opioid Abuse Prevention Study Committee in an effort to educate lawmakers.