This beautiful state is populated with over 4 million people and is home to the famous Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. It lies on the east coast between North Carolina and Georgia. It was once considered a “consumer state” but has transcended to being a “source state” for illegal substances and drugs. South Carolina has an increase in transshipment corridor for illicit drugs and drug proceeds, which has increased the need for South Carolina drug rehab. South Carolina has a location that is midway between New York City and Miami where I-20, I-26, and I-77 intersects with I-95 and I-85. It is ideal for transshipment throughout the Eastern Seaboard.
South Carolina Drug Rehab Is Helping Stop Addiction
Traffickers will travel along I-20 and I-85 to South Carolina from Mexico and the southwest border states to bring supplies of marijuana, heroin, methamphetamine and cocaine. Methamphetamine and crack cocaine are major illegal drugs that threaten South Carolina. Crack cocaine has long endured South Carolina drug threat and meth is now posing a slow but steadily increase of threat in the northern regions of the state like Greenville and Florence areas.
The number of meth labs have increased over the past few years. Last year 100 labs were seized in South Carolina, which makes this a 6 percent increase over the previous year. The majority of illicit drugs are being transmitted to South Carolina in small passenger vehicles. Traffickers like to use popular routes like Interstate 26 and I-95 to target Florence, Myrtle Beach and Charleston with its most prevalent illegal drugs. Marijuana suppliers from the African-American DTOs that have resources with Miami and Atlanta also supply the Charleston, S.C. metropolitan areas. Vehicles, tractor-trailers, commercial airlines, trains, buses and express parcel services are the ways traffickers import marijuana from Mexico through California.
A small percentage of marijuana is grown locally throughout the state of South Carolina. Marijuana grown in small patches outdoors, is being found by the S.C. National Guard and the S.C. Law Enforcement Division (SLED). In the last year the Federal, State, and Local statistics has shown a substantial decrease in marijuana seizures.
Over the last decade, South Carolina has gradually become one of the southeast’s leading distribution and shipping centers for illicit substances. Various gangs and blue-collar criminals govern South Carolina’s drug underground. It is important to add that the state’s proximity to Atlanta leaves it vulnerable to drug related threats. Methamphetamines and cocaine are the main causes for drug rehab enrollment. Other drug related issues include marijuana and the illegal prescription drug problem.
During the last decade, methamphetamine addiction has transformed from a minor issue into an epidemic. The problem is a result of independent dealers creating the product in labs across the state. A less significant reason for the severe methamphetamine issue involves the smuggling of the product through Georgia, Illinois, Texas, and Florida. There is currently an extensive market that provides the state with high-purity product. Law enforcement officials have attempted to eradicate the methamphetamine issue by banning ephedrine and seizing labs. Ephedrine is one of the main ingredients used to make methamphetamine.
Currently, methamphetamine is widely available throughout South Carolina. However, reports show that there is an increasing rate of availability and abuse of the drug in the coastal areas. The Myrtle Beach area has witnessed a sharp increase in both availability and abuse. For the most part, methamphetamine seizures across South Carolina continue to increase.
Although this drug is considered as a less dangerous form of substance abuse; marijuana is popular in every region throughout South Carolina. The majority of South Carolina’s marijuana inventory comes from Mexico. It is transported into the state from other southern states which include Texas and Florida. There is also a large amount of marijuana entering the state from Illinois and Colorado. For that reason, marijuana is currently the most commonly used drug in the state. Many patients enrolled in rehabilitation programs suggest marijuana was a gateway drug that started their substance abuse problem. In some instances, patients have admitted using marijuana with other illicit substances. The marijuana issue in South Carolina is controlled by independent dealers that have the ability to grow the drug then distribute it.
Overall, marijuana is the most commonly used illegal drug in South Carolina. As a result, members of the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division and the National Guard must consistently destroy small patches of marijuana growing outdoors. In 2002, the law enforcement division reported discovering and destroying more than 27,000 plants in South Carolina. The next year, in 2003, the division recorded destroying another 15,000 plants.
This issue is one of the most dangerous and prevalent drug issues facing South Carolina’s residents. Additionally, the issue has infiltrated every region within the state. The cocaine supply primarily comes from Mexico. The shipments are funneled through Georgia, Illinois, Florida, and Texas. The cocaine trade is controlled by numerous gangs and criminals that mark territory and use violence. Both the powder and crack version of the substance have transformed the state’s urban areas into dangerous and poverty stricken areas.
Currently, heroin addiction is a reasonably minor threat in South Carolina. Over the last few years, fatalities and arrests associated with heroin addiction were limited. There is a small amount of heroin throughout the state that exists mostly in the inner cities. Although there is an insignificant level of heroin-related activity in South Carolina; law enforcement continues to pay close attention on the matter in order to curb proliferation. One of the more popular forms of the drug is known as Mexican “black tar.”
Heroin is available in South Carolina in multi-gram quantities. The drug is usually packaged in bindles that are convenient for distribution. The primary method for heroin entering South Carolina is from the New York City area. Heroin traffickers use a combination of methods that include public transportation and mail services to get heroin into South Carolina. Overall, heroin use in South Carolina is minor. However, recent information suggests that a growing number of heroin users are made up of the state’s younger population. Many of these users are in the “experimental” stage.
Prescription Drug Abuse
The most commonly used prescription drugs are Xanax, Oxycontin, and hydrocodone. The primary cause of prescription drug addiction is a result of pharmaceutical theft and Internet sales. Other causes include physicians improperly using legitimate supplies and person-to-person sales. There was also a rise in pain management clinics. These clinics allowed patients to receive prescriptions regardless of medical history and addiction. This process contributed significantly to the issue. Currently, prescription drug addiction has affected every region of South Carolina.
As of October 2013, South Carolina has the 16th highest drug overdose rate in the United States. This is a prescription abuse problem that affects 14.6 out of every 100,000 residents. This information was reported in Prescription Drug Abuse: Strategies to Stop the Epidemic. The amount of drug related overdoses, with the bulk of deaths resulting from prescription drugs, has tripled since 1999. More than a decade ago the rate was 3.7 out of every 100,000 residents.
Club Drug Abuse
This type of drug is popular with a large number of South Carolina’s younger population. This drug receives its name as a result of the association with the bar and nightclub culture. These drugs include PCP, MDMA known as ecstasy or molly, ketamine, and LSD. Club drugs are popular among college and high school students. The drug is generally supplied by independent dealers that distribute the drug in social environments. As the price declines, the popularity of club drugs increases. Molly is the club drug of choice in South Carolina.
Club drugs are mostly available in the Greenville and Columbia areas of South Carolina. The drug is also popular in cities surrounding the state’s coastal area. Over the last few years, there has been a considerable increase in ecstasy use throughout the state. Most traffickers operate out of the state capitol. Current data suggests that Atlanta has become a noteworthy supplier for MDMA in South Carolina. Many law enforcement agencies are trying to infiltrate organizations that distribute the drug, but are hindered by the amount of ecstasy available on the street. Additionally, there is an increasingly high number of LSD available and abused. Ketamine and Rohypnol have also started appearing along the coast, in nightclubs, and upstate.
Drugs Entering The State
The main highways in South Carolina allow the illegal transport of drugs via ground transportation. In most cases, the highways create a reasonably easy shipment route for domestic distributors. The neutral location offers transportation to many other states that range from Florida to New York. These highways provide a perfect meeting place for the region’s independent distributors.
South Carolina was considered a “consumer state” of illegal substances; however, the state is currently considered a “source state.” This is mainly a result of the state’s location and its ability to operate as a corridor for various illicit drugs. This state is located in the middle of Miami and New York. Transportation on I-77, I-26, and I-20 is advantageous at the intersection of both I-95 and I-85. Transporting illegal drugs across the Eastern Seaboard is an ideal method for many traffickers. These interstates supply many of the northeastern states with heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, and marijuana. One of the most popular transshipment methods for cocaine is through the Port of Charleston.
Issues Associated with Drug Abuse
In 2008, South Carolina law enforcement officials made 34,474 drug arrests. Illegal drug charges create the largest portion of offenses among South Carolina residents on parole or probation.
The South Carolina Department of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Services (DAODAS) report serving around 50,000 residents a year with drug related problems. However, 30% of these residents require help solely for alcohol addiction.
From 2005 to 2009, statistics from The South Carolina Department of Corrections show that more than 12,000 inmates tested positive for drugs. However, this number has declined steadily over time. In 2009, there were 1,409 inmates that tested positive for drugs. In most cases, the drugs are smuggled inside prisons by the staff. These criminals are often caught, terminated, and charged with the applicable criminal charges.
Currently, The South Carolina Department of Corrections incorporates a zero tolerance policy for possession and drug use. Inmates are tested routinely and are subject to penalties if tested positive for illegal substances. These inmates are then placed in substance abuse treatment program.
South Carolina Drug Policies
The drug laws in South Carolina are similar to most federal laws. However, states have some flexibility to bend those laws. South Carolina enforces strict drug laws that include charges ranging from fines to jail time for first time users. In some cases, felony trafficking charges can imprison young adults, men, and women for decades. A resident charged with any drug offense must surrender their driver’s license for 6 months. This is a sanction enforced regardless of the location of the offense. Moreover, the sanction is enforced even when the offense does not involve driving.
Similar to other states throughout the country, South Carolina penalizes residents more severely for selling and using crack cocaine. Crack is significantly cheaper than powder cocaine and is generally used by the economically disadvantaged residents. It is important to add that the sentencing inconsistency between powder cocaine and crack has added significantly to the imprisonment of African Americans residents in South Carolina. However, in 2010, crack and powder cocaine penalties were amended at both the state and federal levels.
South Carolina Prescription Monitoring Program
In order to combat prescription drug abuse, the South Carolina General Assembly passed a law to create the Prescription Monitoring Program. In 2006, this program was implemented to improve the state’s ability to prevent and identify the use of prescription drugs. More importantly, the program was created to achieve this goal efficiently and in a cost effective manner. The program is managed by the South Carolina Department of Health operates without impeding the use of controlled substances appropriately.
The South Carolina Prescription Monitoring Program tracks all drugs classified from Schedules II, III, and IV. This program gathers information from pharmacies, physicians, and veterinarians about the prescriber and the patient. The PMP requires that dispensers of prescription drugs file a report monthly or receive a fine up to $2,000. In worst case scenarios, the dispenser faces a fine and prison time. The information remains completely confidential except to prosecutors and law enforcement officers involved with a drug related investigation.
South Carolina started receiving prescription reports in 2008 from the PMP at DHEC. By the end of 2009, the program had monitored more than 18 million prescriptions. It is important to note that South Carolina’s population was around 4.5 million in 2009. The DHEC receives drug control enforcement from the Bureau of Drug Control. This Bureau uses licensed pharmacists in South Carolina that are also state law enforcement officers. These officers have the authority to arrest drug offenders. Normally, the BDC obtains information from the PMP about specific residents after it has received reports of probable abuses by prescribers and pharmacies.
Overall, the BDC annually conducts 750 to 850 inspections of pharmacies and hospitals. Inspections ensure that records are properly maintained controlled substances are properly secured. Currently, The BDC receives around 1,000 complaints each year in South Carolina. The complaints are reported by concerned residents, health care professionals, and federal/state agencies. Typically, 500 of these complaints result in prosecution of the individual. Additionally, about 25% of the individuals prosecuted are health care professionals.
From 2008 to 2010, law enforcement officials made around 60,000 inquiries. Prescribers made around 40,000 inquiries, and pharmacists made about 25,000.
By The Numbers
In South Carolina, it was estimated that the amount of residents with an illicit drug abuse or addiction problem (over the course of one year) totaled 96,000. The averages were based on the 2002 and 2003 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. This information was gathered on illicit drugs that include: prescription drugs, marijuana, heroin, inhalants, cocaine (including crack), and hallucinogens. This list also includes drugs that are taken non-medically.
o There were a total of 16,000 residents with an illicit drug abuse or addiction problem between the ages of 12-17 years old.
o There were a total of 36,000 residents with an illicit drug abuse or addiction problem between the ages of 18-25 years old.
o There were a total of 44,000 residents with an illicit drug abuse or addiction problem that were 26 years or older.
In South Carolina, it was estimated that the amount of residents that were illicit drug users (over the course of a month) totaled 121,000. The averages were based on the 2002 and 2003 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. This information was gathered on illicit drugs, other than marijuana, that include: prescription drugs, heroin, inhalants, cocaine (including crack), and hallucinogens. This list also includes drugs that were taken non-medically.
o There were a total of 18,000 residents (other than marijuana users) between the ages of 12-17 years old.
o There were a total of 40,000 residents (other than marijuana users) between the ages of 18-25 years old.
o There were a total of 63,000 residents (other than marijuana users) that were 26 years or older.
In South Carolina, it was estimated that the amount of residents with that were illicit drug users (over the course of a month) totaled 245,000. The averages were based on the 2002 and 2003 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. This information was gathered on illicit drugs that include: prescription drugs, marijuana, heroin, inhalants, cocaine (including crack), and hallucinogens. This list also includes drugs that were taken non-medically.
o There were a total of 38,000 residents between the ages of 12-17 years old.
o There were a total of 90,000 residents between the ages of 18-25 years old.
o There were a total of 117,000 that were 26 years or older.
In South Carolina, methamphetamines and cocaine continue to be the most popular drugs. Research has shown that these drugs are the sole cause for a large number of drug rehab enrollments. Currently, heroin use is gradually increasing; but this drug mostly presents a threat to the inner city population. Without proper prevention, prescription drugs like Oxycontin and hydrocodone will continue to become a larger threat. South Carolina needs to implement a clear and defined approach to begin eliminating the substance abuse and addiction problem. This issue has a direct effect on violence, crime, and poverty throughout the state. Law enforcement and government officials should place more emphasis on the issue so residents of South Carolina are not as vulnerable to illegal drug market.
Let Drug Rehab and Take Control Of Your Recovery
If you or a loved one is ready to seek help for a problem with addiction to alcohol or drugs, our licensed addiction counselors can help you find a successful treatment program at a South Carolina drug rehab that is right for you. With the right guidance you can learn to take control of your recovery and find the path to a sober lifestyle.