Opioid overdoses in South Carolina continue to rise. Since 2014, deaths related to opioids have increased by 47 percent.
Several agencies and communities are working to keep that number from rising including the University of South Carolina.
Students at USC will now have access to the drug Narcan. It’s an opioid overdose reversal drug and the university says it’s another measure to be proactive in the fight against the issue.
Students on college campuses are no strangers to drug use. Many students say they see it at parties and sometimes even campus housing.
“I’ve seen a lot of drug use. A lot of marijuana and stuff like that. I lived in a dorm and there was a lot of that going on,” said USC sophomore Devin Vest.
The university has several resources on campus to help students struggling with substance abuse. A new staff member was recently hired to help students stay sober after coming out of treatment.
But now USC is taking another step to fight one of the state’s deadliest drug problems. When asked about opioid addiction, many students were familiar with the issue.
“I hear about it all the time. being a college student especially here in Columbia,” Vest said.
The S.C. Opioid Emergency Response Team says 748 people died from opioid overdoses last year. The overdose reversal drug, Narcan, a weapon of choice against the epidemic.
The University of South Carolina says opioid addiction is not widespread on campus and law enforcement and health services staff are already equipped with Narcan.
The nasal spray blocks the effects of opioids in a matter of minutes. USC students will now have access to the antidote.
For several students, it’s a problem they weren’t aware could hit so close to home.
“It does worry me because I’ve never heard or known of anyone with an opioid addiction or something that severe so I didn’t know that was on campus,” said USC junior Madison Northshield.
When asked if they would feel comfortable giving someone the drug if needed, one student said he would.
Vest explained, “I mean yeah if I had it on me and knew how to use it …yeah.”
The drug Narcan is available to students without a prescription. USC is working to make it available free to all students.
The average cost of Narcan ranges from about $40 to $150 depending on insurance coverage.