NEWS BRIEF: Lawmakers hear two hours of testimony on opioid crisis

By Lindsay Street, Statehouse correspondent  |  He wasn’t the kind of person you thought would have been involved in drugs, one man testified. Funerals for overdoses less than a week apart, a woman echoed.  A grandparent had to tell his 11-year-old granddaughter that her father had died from an overdose.

Those are just a few of the statements made during the first of five public hearings about the opioid crisis in South Carolina, which drew two hours of testimony Wednesday in Greenville. You can watch a video by the Greenville News here.

S.C. House Speaker Jay Lucas, R-Hartsville, appointed the House Opioid Abuse Prevention Study Committee in May, after a legislative session that drew nearly 20 bills aimed at curbing addiction and death from the deadly narcotic.

While the state has one of the lowest hospitalizations from the drug in the nation, according to a recent Post and Courier article, more than 700 South Carolinians lost their lives to prescription or illicit opioid overdoses in 2015. Earlier this year, Statehouse Report highlighted how medical professionals prescribed 61 million pills in 2014 in three South Carolina counties.

Lawmakers heard Wednesday from law enforcement, family members of those suffering from addiction, and facilities that aid in recovery. According to S.C. Rep. Phyllis Henderson, R-Greenville, the public hearing are designed to inform representatives on possible further legislative action to take during session.

“It’s to help us solve the problem,” Henderson said,

The committee will identify preventive measures and how to increase treatment and recovery options. Upcoming hearings will include Charleston, Myrtle Beach, Columbia and Rock Hill locations. The Charleston hearing is slated for Aug. 16.

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