Teens raise awareness about opioid epidemic in the lowcountry

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HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C., (WSAV) — It’s tearing apart families and killing more than 100 people every single day. Experts say our nation is in an opioid crisis and it’s affecting people of all ages right here at home.

Local leaders and experts in the lowcountry met with members of the community to work toward a real, life-saving solution.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) says opioids killed more than 42-thousand people in 2016, more than any year on record. As that number continues to rise young people in the lowcountry are learning about the deadly consequences.

Beaufort County Coroner , Edward Allen says, “it’s unfortunate that the very first case of fentanyl death occurred right here in Beaufort County.”

Health officials say the numbers are alarming.  According to South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control since 2014, opioid overdose deaths have outnumbered homicides in the state.

They say in South Carolina, 5 million painkiller prescriptions are filled which represents more than one prescription for every citizen in the state.

“If we don’t address the problems in our youth it’s going to precipitate itself in our middle age adults,” Allen said.

He tells News 3 the youngest person that has died from opioids was 24-years-old.

The forum tonight was held by Lowcountry Alliance for Healthy Youth (LCAHY) to increase awareness about the effects of adolescent medicine and substance abuse.

President of LCAHY, Beaufort High School, Adelynn Holmes says, ” learning about it in high school, learning about how drugs how easily addictive they how and how they affect your brain is really important therefore we can make those decisions before we go to college about whether we want to be a part of these things.”

Twelve students participated in the call to action. All of them presented a different factor when it comes to the awareness of substance abuse.

Officials say one out of every five teens has taken prescription drugs that aren’t prescribed to them. According to the South Carolina House Opioid Abuse Prevention Study Committee, there are ways to stop addiction before it begins. Families should know what to watch out for: monitor medicine cabinets with unused prescriptions and discuss the problem with young adults.

“I just want students to be aware that aren’t something to play around with. That marijuana, drugs alcohol they are all very addictive substances. It’s not just something that you do for fun it’s dangerous and its taking lives,” Holmes said.

Lowcountry Alliance for Healthy Youth say they will continue to raise awareness for teachers, students and those in the community.

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