OCONEE COUNTY, S.C. (WSPA)- The Oconee County Coroner is sending out a warning to the Upstate after three people died within three days after taking a new synthetic opioid.
Those deaths happened within 72 hours between February 12 and February 14.
“The 24-year-old was found deceased in her home in the Westminster area and on Valentine’s Day morning two gentlemen were found dead,” said Oconee County Coroner Karl Addis.
After a toxicology test, Addis said Protonitazene was detected in their bodies, a new ingredient in synthetic opioids.
“It is as potent or more potent than the drug fentanyl. It can cause rapid sedation, respiratory failure and death,” Addis said.
James Kovach said he had a first-hand experience with the dangers of these kinds of drugs.
“I struggled with drug addiction for a long time, about 13, 14 years,” Kovach said.
He’s now the Sober Living Director at Solutions Recovery Center, helping people who are in the shoes he used to be in.
“I came up here, seeking help, solutions took me in, and now I have the opportunity to give back what was given to me,” Kovach said.
Kovach wants the community to know the dangers of opioids.
“I don’t want to water it down. It’s simple,” Kovach said. “They’re addictive. It’s really, it’s life or death in a sense. Yes, it’s medically given, but at the same time it’s highly addictive. I tell the ones that are addicted and that are seeking help, there is help out there.”
Law enforcement continues to investigate the deaths to figure out where the drugs came from.