UNION COUNTY, S.C. (WSPA) – The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) is using a $450,000 grant to prevent substance abuse in Union, Greenwood and Laurens Counties.

The grant was awarded by The National Association of County and City Health Officials.

The funding focuses on expanding community partnerships and implementing evidence-based programs that help prevent substance use disorders (SUD) or overdoses. These efforts also will help prevent traumatic experiences for children and youth living in homes where they’re exposed to substance use.

South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control

According to DHEC, Union, Greenwood and Laurens Counties “are among those with the highest all drug overdose rates in the state.”

“We have seen an increase in overdoses significantly in the past four or five months,” said Audrey Colin, a Senior Program Coordinator of Recovery Services at The Forrester Center for Behavioral Health. “It seems like it’s more common every other day.”

DHEC said its Upstate and Midlands Public Health Regions will use the funding to “hire additional staff to provide training, coordinate efforts, and develop strong partnerships with Healthy U, Western Piedmont Education Consortium (WPEC), Cornerstone, and Children’s Trust. Each of these organizations will be able to help implement and expand programs for substance use, overdose, and ACEs, and provide SUD training to those community members who work with children.”

Substance abuse counselors, like Colin, said recovery is not easy. She hopes people will reach out for help.

It is a disease, and it does affect the brain just like other illnesses. We have to find the right treatment for the right individual. What may work for one may not work for the other. But, we have to keep trying. The ongoing recovery journey is a lifelong commitment. It definitely gets easier overtime. But, it’s something you have to remain dedicated and vigilant to.

Audrey Colin

Anyone who needs to be connected to mental health or substance abuse treatment resources can call (844) 724-6737.