Updated on May 20, 2024
3 min read

Updated Drug and Alcohol Statistics for South Carolina

South Carolina is facing a severe drug and alcohol abuse crisis, with the state experiencing a sharp increase in overdose deaths, high rates of youth substance use, and the devastating impact of the opioid epidemic. This article provides an overview of the current state of drug and alcohol use in South Carolina, highlighting alarming statistics on the opioid crisis, youth substance use, and the challenges in providing adequate treatment and recovery services.

  • Opioid-involved overdose deaths increased by 59%, from 876 in 2019 to 1,400 in 2020.1
  • Fentanyl-related overdose deaths increased by 105%, from 537 in 2019 to 1,100 in 2020.1
  • The drug overdose mortality rate in South Carolina is 42.8 deaths per 100,000 people, with 2,138 deaths reported.2

Substance Use and Disorders

South Carolina has seen a significant increase in drug overdoses and opioid-related deaths in recent years.

  • Opioid-involved overdose deaths increased by 59%, from 876 in 2019 to 1,400 in 2020.1
  • Total drug overdoses increased by 53%, from 1,131 in 2019 to 1,734 in 2020.1
  • Fentanyl-related overdose deaths increased by 105%, from 537 in 2019 to 1,100 in 2020.1
South Carolina chart 1

Alcohol Use and Related Issues

Alcohol use, particularly binge drinking, is a significant concern in South Carolina.

  • In 2011, 15.4% of adults and 21.7% of high school students reported binge drinking.3
  • Excessive alcohol use cost South Carolina $3.08 billion in 2010.4
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Opioid Crisis

The opioid crisis has had a devastating impact on South Carolina, with increased naloxone administrations and drug overdose hospitalizations.

  • In 2021, there were 27 naloxone administrations via EMS.5
  • In 2021, there were 31 hospitalizations for drug-related overdoses.5

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Youth Substance Use

Youth substance use is a pressing concern in South Carolina, with high rates of alcohol and illicit drug use among adolescents.

  • More than 8% of kids ages 12-17 consume an alcoholic beverage each month, and nearly 14% of kids in that age range used illicit drugs in 2021.6
  • DHEC emphasizes the need for early prevention and healthy conversations with children about substance use disorder.6

Additional Statistics

Other substance use trends and challenges in South Carolina include:

  • The drug overdose mortality rate in South Carolina is 42.8 deaths per 100,000 people, with 2,138 deaths reported.2
  • In 2021, 13.2% of inmates reported any opioid usage, and 10.2% reported recent opioid usage.5
  • 7% of residents reported using illicit drugs in the past month; the national average was 8.02%.7

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Overdose Death Prevention

South Carolina has taken steps to address the opioid crisis and prevent overdose deaths.

  • DAODAS established the South Carolina Overdose Prevention Project to reduce deaths related to opioid misuse.8
  • Thousands of doses of naloxone have been distributed to patients, caregivers, and community members since January 2018.8
  • Rapid fentanyl test strips are being used to reduce the risk of overdose.8

Drug Overdose Deaths

Drug overdose deaths continue to be a significant problem in South Carolina.

  • In 2021, there were 2,168 total drug overdose deaths.5
  • In 2021, there were 1,853 deaths involving prescription drugs.5
South Carolina chart 2

The statistics presented in this article underscore the severity of the drug and alcohol abuse crisis in South Carolina. From the alarming increase in overdose deaths to the devastating impact of the opioid epidemic and the concerning levels of youth substance use, it is evident that urgent action is needed to address these issues. By investing in prevention, treatment, and recovery services, and promoting collaboration among community stakeholders, South Carolina can work towards supporting those struggling with addiction and creating a healthier future for all its residents.

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Updated on May 20, 2024
8 sources cited
Updated on May 20, 2024
  1. "South Carolina Overdose Death Data for 2020 Shows Stark Increase During First Year of COVID-19." South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control, 2021.
  2. "Drug Overdose Mortality by State." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, n.d.
  3. "Excessive Alcohol Use in South Carolina." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2013.
  4. "Behavioral Health Barometer: South Carolina, Volume 6." Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2019.
  5. "South Carolina Opioid Data." JustPlainKillers, n.d.
  6. "DHEC: National Youth Substance Use Prevention Month Shines Light on Need for Early Prevention." South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control, 2022.
  7. "South Carolina Substance Abuse Statistics." Recovery Connection, n.d.
  8. "Overdose Death Prevention." South Carolina Department of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Services, n.d.

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