ANDERSON COUNTY, S.C. (WSPA) – The number of drug deaths is rising each year in Anderson County, according to the coroner’s office.

“In 2021, we had 48 drug deaths,” said Don McCown, Anderson County’s Chief Deputy Coroner. “In 2022, we had 101. We’re on target right now in 2023 to exceed that by a long shot.”

At Tuesday’s meeting, the Anderson County Coroner’s Office asked Anderson County Council for $45,000 to start a program to educate the public about the dangers of drugs.

County council unanimously approved the request with the funding coming from the Opioid Recovery Fund.

With the funding secured, McCown said the coroner’s office plans to take its program to middle and high schools students.

“Our office believes that if we can educate them now, then hopefully when they’re in their 20s, 30s, and 40s, they’ll remember something that we taught them,” McCown explained. “I don’t know if we’ll have a major impact on what’s currently going on, but we will have an impact on what’s coming up.”

The coroner’s office will also speak to adults in local civic and church groups.

“A majority of our drug deaths are [people] in their 20s, 30s and 40s,”McCown said. “We have to get the message to them.”

The second step of the program will be for drug counselors to respond to emergency calls.

“If we can get one, two, or three [people] who go to that counseling, that’s one, two, or three who didn’t die,” McCown said.

The coroner’s office hopes the program will resonate with the public and save lives.

“I think it’s more important for us to get the message out because we are at the end,” McCown said. “When we’re dealing with you or your family, it’s the worst day of your life. I don’t think there’s much more of an impact than that.”

McCown said they hope to begin the program within 30 to 40 days.