What is scarier than Halloween? Opioid deaths

October is a time for spooky movies, Halloween costumers and treats for children.

It is also a time when a lot of people get scared watching horror movies and visiting “haunted” houses.

What is a lot scarier and is not limited to Halloween is the drug epidemic which is sweeping our nation.

Barnwell County is certainly not immune. In recent years we have seen our share of overdoses, some resulting in death.

For many of us, the drug problem is a shadow world that we know is there but it is not “in our faces”.

Unfortunately, our law enforcement and medical responders see it all too often. Axis 1 and its partner agencies deal with it on a daily basis.

And then there are those who are either the users or the family members who are dealing with the horrors of addiction at tragic costs.

Of particular concern lately is the misuse of opioids.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, opioids are a class of drugs that include the illegal drug heroin, synthetic opioids such as fentanyl, and pain relievers available legally by prescription, such as oxycodone (OxyContin®), hydrocodone (Vicodin®), codeine, morphine, and many others.

These drugs are chemically related and interact with opioid receptors on nerve cells in the body and brain.

Opioid pain relievers are generally safe when taken for a short time and as prescribed by a doctor, but because they produce euphoria in addition to pain relief, they can be misused (taken in a different way or in a larger quantity than prescribed, or taken without a doctor’s prescription).

Regular use—even as prescribed by a doctor—can lead to dependence and, when misused, opioid pain relievers can lead to overdose incidents and deaths.

While some of the drugs are “illegal”, some are relatively easy for addicts to obtain - they just need to raid the medicine cabinets of family and friends.

To turn the situation around is going to take the efforts of doctors, patients, family members, law enforcement and the community through education and awareness.

Some steps are as easy as locking up your personal medications or getting rid of old medications by properly disposing them. A National Prescription Drug Take Back Day will be held on Saturday, October 28 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. with dropboxes available at the CVS Pharmacy in Barnwell and Blackville Town Hall. If you can’t make that date, no worries - the Sheriff’s Office and Blackville Town hall have permanent dropboxes. Williston will soon have one.

The other action is seeking help for those who are addicted and guiding those who can easily slip into addiction.

Red Ribbon Week is celebrated each year during the last week in October as a time of awareness of the impact of drugs and alchohol has on individuals and communities.

Local students are participating in Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) programs to help them to make healthy and long-lasting positive decisions.

Law enforcement is getting new tools to detect and circumvent drug abuse in our community and the crimes that are often related.

Physicians and health organizations are working with patients and the community to provide pain relief when needed without addiction, crisis intervention and family guidance.

If we, as individuals, take some sort of personal responsibility to help reduce drug and alchohol abuse in our homes and lives, then we are helping our community and saving lives.

We are the key.