MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WBTW) – Nearly 100 people attended a Heroin Town Hall meeting Wednesday night at Carolina Forest Community Church.
“This is my church and my heart is here and my passion is also to work with people who struggled like I once did with addiction,” said Bill DeWard. He’s been in recovery for several years and asked the church’s pastors if they could host a town hall meeting.
“Many times I think people associate this problem with Myrtle Beach and downtown,” said DeWard. “But it does exist behind the gated communities here in Carolina Forest. It’s everywhere.”
Horry County Police say about 36 people have overdosed and died in Horry County this year alone. Sgt. Thomas Delpercio, who works on Horry County Police Department’s narcotics and vice unit, was a part of the panel.
“It’s become cliché,” said Sgt. Delpercio. “We can’t arrest our way out of this. This is going to take the community. Faith based organizations, treatment facilities, citizens and law enforcement all working together as well as educators to get a hold of this problem.”
Others on the panel included representatives from Shoreline Behavioral Health Services, Myrtle Beach Police and Solicitor Jimmy Richardson.
“We feel that the focus needed to be more on the recovery than just the problem,” said DeWard.
Sgt. Delpercio said the department typically works 50-60 active investigations on drug dealers in Horry County at one time. However, he said the county and City of Myrtle Beach have collected nearly 600 pounds of prescription drugs through their drug drop-off program.
“We’re getting those pills off the street and that’s a start,” said Sgt. Delpercio. “The education here, things like this, in the community this is what we need to do.”
DeWard said he wants people to feel a sense of hope and awareness after the town hall.
“It’s not dinner time discussion for most families and it’s a deadly issue,” he added.
The church announced they will be forming a group this fall specifically for those struggling with addiction. To find out more about it you can check out their website by clicking here.