COLUMBIA, S.C.—A House Education and Public Works subcommittee passed a bill late Wednesday afternoon to require all high school students to get opioid abuse education as part of their health curriculum. The bill now goes to the full committee.
Rep. Eric Bedingfield, R-Greenville, is the main sponsor of the bill. His son Josh died a year ago from a drug overdose. “In my own child’s life, it kind of began in much younger years in high school with going to things they called ‘pill parties.’ Not really knowing what they were taking, taking medicines from momma or daddy’s medicine cabinet or gramma or grandpa’s medicine cabinet and just taking turns just taking pills,” he says.
He wants other children and teens to avoid that. “Opioids are so extremely addictive. It doesn’t generally take but more than a dose or two or three for your body to have, create a craving and a desire to continue that,” he says. “And so my focus is on what can I do to children K-through-12, in an age-appropriate fashion, give them some guidance to what to be on the lookout for and the dangers of taking that first step?”
The bill has little time to pass this year, but he says it’s possible it could because the bill isn’t controversial. However, since this is the first year of the two-year session, he says he’s fine if it doesn’t become law until next year.
“I hope the effect will be one less child, if not hundreds of children who don’t take that first step, at taking a pill that they don’t know what it is or abusing an opioid or taking a pain pill from momma or daddy’s medicine cabinet,” he says.