Lexington, SC (Paul Kirby) – Thursday morning, Chief Terrance Green of the Lexington Police Department began a series of roundtables to discuss the opioid crisis in and around Lexington. Representatives from throughout the Town of Lexington and Lexington County were there as they began a series of strategic planning sessions with community stakeholders to address the opioid crisis and how it is affecting our communities locally.
According to the Lexington Police Department’s social media pages, after a welcome from Chief Terrence Green and Lexington Mayor Pro-Tem Hazel Livingston, a music video by River Bluff High School student Justine Tefft which focused on substance abuse was shown.Later, a presentation from Lt. Robby Lint of the Lexington County Sheriff's Department Narcotics’ Division was made.
Lexington County Coroner Margaret Fisher, the person who deals with the worst of this crisis on a daily basis also spoke. She was followed by Dr. Pam Imm of LRADAC and The Courage Center. Jeremy Martin of LRADAC provided the background on this crisis and then Steve Smith began the conversation on the strategic steps moving forward from here.
Coroner Fisher is, sadly, an expert on the effects of these deadly drugs. She has been sounding the alarm on this issue for several years. Annually, she produces a detailed report on what’s killing the people of Lexington County. With the assistance of her Chief Deputy Candace Berry, they provide detailed statistics on what’s making our citizens die. That report includes things we might consider natural deaths like heart disease or strokes, to car accidents, and even violent deaths like shootings and of course substance overdoses. The report even breaks down the education level of the abuser who died, their ages, and the types of substances people are abusing and eventually dying from. Reading through their report can be alarming. (The entire report can be found by clicking here).
To put the problem in perspective, Fisher’s 2018 report shows that 53 people died in Lexington County in 2018 due to overdoses. According to Coroner Fisher, just two of those died of alcohol overdoses and eight because of the overuse of cocaine.
When it came to drugs considered a part of the opioid family like heroin and fentanyl, 49 people died as a result of overusing these. Those 49 opioid deaths in Lexington County are out of 12 separate categories of substances, both natural and manmade,that people overused and died as a result. They are by far the most dangerous and deadly drugs used in Lexington County. Their effects eclipse even the dangerous drug methamphetamines, also known as meth, or its stronger, purer forms of these same man-made drugs, crystal meth or ice. By comparison, meth claimed just 18 lives in Lexington County in 2018.
This group of experts will continue to meet regularly. Hopefully, the Roundtable will grow with more community stakeholders as this conversation continues. Only after the conversation begins will a solution be found to these dangerous drugs that took people as young as 19 and as old as 67 from us and their loved ones in Lexington County in 2018.
If you are interested in the work of the Opioid Roundtable & Strategic Planning Sessions, call the Lexington Police Department at (803) 359-6260. First, ask if the meeting is open for anyone to attend. If it is, ask when the next one is being held. Then, be prepared to listen and learn. Perhaps at some point, you’ll have something to offer that might can help.
Again, the 2018 Coroner’s Report is very informative and is easy to find on the internet. You can go to the County of Lexington’s website and use the search box to find the Coroner’s Report. You can also simply click this simple LINK. It’s a very good read if you are interested in the issues that are affecting our community.