Skip to main content



Drug and alcohol addiction is a major public health issue in South Carolina. In 2021, over 2,100 drug overdose deaths occurred in the state. From alcohol and prescription drug abuse to more illicit substances like cocaine and heroin, addiction affects individuals, families, and communities throughout the state. In this list, we will explore the different types of addictions and their impact in South Carolina:


Binge drinking is a serious problem in South Carolina, with a significant portion of the population admitting to heavy alcohol consumption. Between the years of 2017 and 2021, 15.35% of the state’s population reported engaging in binge drinking. This behavior not only puts individuals at risk for alcohol addiction, but also contributes to a variety of negative consequences, including car accidents, domestic violence, and liver damage (DAODAS 2022).


Cocaine & Crack

In 2021, South Carolina witnessed a significant increase in the number of deaths involving cocaine compared to the previous year. According to the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control, there were 446 deaths involving cocaine in the state, which is an increase of 94 deaths from the previous year. This increase represents a concerning trend, as cocaine continues to be a dangerous and addictive drug that can cause a range of health problems, including heart attacks, seizures, and respiratory failure (Just Plain Killers.com 2021).



In 2021, there was a significant decline in the number of heroin-related deaths in South Carolina. According to the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control, the state saw a 44.2% drop in heroin-related deaths from the previous year, with the number decreasing from 244 to 136. This decline can be attributed to the state’s efforts to combat opioid addiction through programs and initiatives aimed at prevention, treatment, and recovery. Despite this positive trend, heroin addiction remains a serious public health issue in South Carolina, and continued efforts are needed to address the root causes of addiction and prevent future deaths (Just Plain Killers.com 2022). 



Methamphetamine, commonly known as meth, is a highly addictive and dangerous drug that affects individuals across the United States. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), approximately 2 million people aged 12 years or older use meth in any given year, and around 500 people try meth for the first time every day. Meth alters the way the brain functions, as well as accelerates the body’s systems to hazardous levels. This results in increased blood pressure and heart and respiratory rates, which can be life-threatening. Repeated use of meth can cause various physical and mental health problems such as anxiety, paranoia, aggression, hallucinations, and mood swings. It is a significant public health concern that requires prompt attention and action (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration 2022).


Prescription Drugs

In 2021, South Carolina witnessed a concerning rise in the number of deaths involving prescription drugs, with a total of 1,853 cases reported. This marks a significant increase from the previous year’s total of 1,463 cases, which highlights the growing problem of prescription drug addiction and abuse in the state. The misuse of prescription drugs can have severe consequences and can lead to addiction, overdose, and death (Just Plain Killers.com 2022).



In recent years, opioids have remained the leading cause of fatal drug overdoses in South Carolina, contributing to 1,733 out of 2,168 overdose deaths in 2021 (SCDHEC 2023). 



Nationally, fentanyl, a synthetic opioid, has played a significant role in the surge of drug overdose deaths. From 2020 to 2021, South Carolina witnessed an alarming increase of over 35% in drug overdose deaths involving fentanyl, with the number escalating from 1,100 to 1,494. Shockingly, fentanyl was involved in more than two-thirds of all opioid-involved overdose deaths in the state in 2021 (DHEC 2023).



In 2021, benzodiazepines were involved in nearly 14% of overdose deaths related to opioids, which are prescription painkillers, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Benzodiazepines, commonly known as “benzos,” are a type of prescription sedative that is frequently prescribed for anxiety or insomnia. They work by increasing the level of the inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA in the brain to calm or sedate a person. Examples of benzodiazepines include diazepam (Valium), alprazolam (Xanax), and clonazepam (Klonopin), among others. A study in North Carolina found that the overdose death rate among patients receiving both opioids and benzodiazepines was 10 times higher than those only receiving opioids. Another study among U.S. veterans with an opioid prescription found that receiving a benzodiazepine prescription was associated with an increased risk of drug overdose death in a dose-dependent manner (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration 2022).



In 2021, South Carolina witnessed a significant increase in psychostimulant drug-related deaths, with a total of 778 fatalities reported. This marked an alarming rise of 227 deaths from the previous year. One commonly abused psychostimulant drug is Adderall, which can cause serious health problems, including heart attacks and seizures, when used improperly (Just Plain Killers.com 2022).



Kratom is an herbal substance that can produce effects similar to opioids and stimulants. It is currently legal and easily accessible in many areas, despite not being approved for any medicinal use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Some people report using kratom to manage drug withdrawal symptoms and cravings, as well as for pain, fatigue, and mental health issues. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) is conducting research to evaluate the potential medicinal uses of kratom and related compounds, as well as to better understand the health and safety effects of its use. While serious effects such as psychiatric, cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, and respiratory problems have been reported, deaths linked solely to kratom are very rare. Most cases involve other drugs or contaminants (NIDA/NIH 2022)



South Carolina has the ninth highest opioid prescription rate in the United States, with 793 prescriptions per 1,000 residents. Data from IQVIA Xponent between 2006 to 2017 represents a sample of approximately 50,000 retail pharmacies that dispense nearly 90% of all retail prescriptions in the country, but excludes mail-order pharmacy data. However, the South Carolina Prescription Monitoring Program (SCRIPTS) provides a more comprehensive and accurate source of data. The CDC’s reported rate of 793 is an underestimation of the true prevalence of opioid prescriptions in South Carolina, which is estimated to be 863 per 1,000 residents. The over-prescription of opioids has contributed significantly to the ongoing opioid epidemic in the state. In 2017, 345 deaths in South Carolina were related to opioid prescriptions like morphine. To address and prevent opioid abuse and addiction, increased efforts are needed to ensure the appropriate and safe prescribing of opioids in the state (SCDHEC 2018).



Marijuana Use Disorder affected a significant number of people in South Carolina between 2014 and 2017, with approximately 59,000 individuals aged 12 and older impacted by the disorder. It is important to note that while marijuana is legal for medicinal use in South Carolina, it can still be addictive and lead to a range of health problems, including memory and cognitive issues (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration 2019).


Addiction can take a toll on every aspect of your life, but with BriteLife Recovery's experienced team and cutting-edge addiction treatment programs, you can regain control of your life and start on the path to lasting recovery. Our programs are tailored to your unique needs and offer a holistic approach to healing. We prioritize individualized care and are dedicated to helping you overcome addiction so you can live your best life. Contact us today to start your journey to recovery and reclaim your life on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina.

Copyright© 2024 BriteLife Recovery | Online Privacy PolicyHIPAA Practices