Accidental overdose deaths increasing in the Upstate, coroners concerned numbers will continue to worsen

Local News

GREENVILLE COUNTY, S.C. (WSPA) – There’s a dangerous trend happening that Upstate coroners told 7News, they really hope will stop this year.

Accidental overdose deaths increased across the area in 2021, after they already jumped the year before.

Marc Burrows keeps busy. When he’s not in his office, he’s handing out life-saving tools.

“We are definitely getting more interest on all levels of the services we provide,” said Marc Burrows with Challenges Inc.

Over the last year though, he has been especially occupied doing just that.

“You can’t even really call these drug overdose deaths anymore because it’s really, just poisoning,” Burrows told us.

That’s in part because those kind of deaths are going up.

It’s a deadly trend leaders with coroners’ offices across the Upstate are tracking like Shelton England.

“Methamphetamines are coming back so you’re seeing more of a methamphetamine/fentanyl mix,” Senior Deputy Coroner with Greenville County, Shelton England told 7News.

England said their data shows in Greenville County, within the first 10 months of 2021, they had a total of 168 accidental overdose deaths. That’s 29 more than the same time frame in 2020 and 60 more than 2019.

“The hardest part is telling the family of that person deceased, in the end what exactly killed them,” said England.

Burrows isn’t entirely surprised. He believes the pandemic is partially to blame.

“With job loss and loss of life and loss of income, just mental health. Isolation is definitely a factor when it comes to overdose because Narcan is great but you can’t use it on yourself,” Burrows explained.

While Burrows along with Upstate coroners are hoping for change in 2022, Burrows told 7News regardless, he will be here to help.

The same goes for the Greenville County Coroner’s Office. They have a mobile substance abuse education program dedicated to informing the public.

Also, Challenges Inc. is a non-profit dedicated to harm reduction. They offer free services like access to Narcan and fentanyl testing strips. You can read the details and other services they offer here.

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