‘Wake Up Carolina’ members use experience to fight drug epidemic

NORTH MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WBTW) – A new group in Horry County, called Wake Up Carolina, is taking action against the drug epidemic.

It’s modeled after a larger Wake Up Carolina group in Charleston and involves community members affected by addiction as well as law enforcement officers, local legislators and people in the Solicitor’s Office.

“The number one goal of the Wake Up Carolina coalition is to truly eliminate drug abuse in our community,” said Resident Agent with the Drug Enforcement Administration, Patrick Apel. “That is a pretty daunting task.”

Apel said what makes Wake Up Carolina different is its grassroots start and the stories told by the people who make up the group.

“This is an organic group that’s been woken up, if you will. The tagline is Wake Up Carolina and every story here is a compelling story,” he added.

While it’s a group focused on action, it’s also used for support.

“We’re all vetted in this group because we have somebody who is an addict so that helps us relate,” said member, Ashley Bates Dial. “Mine is my husband. He’s an addict and he has been an addict for as long as I can remember.”

Bates Dial’s husband was able to get clean of the drugs at one point, but then relapsed. He is now in a treatment program that seems to be working.

“It’s been a long journey, but I’m seeing promise now from the program he’s in and I’m hoping I can help be a voice for situations like him,” she added.

Wake Up Carolina will host its first speaking event in two weeks and has plans to work with Solicitor Jimmy Richardson and South Carolina Senator Greg Hembree.

“It will morph and change but we’re here to stay and to remind the community that this issue is not just an issue that belongs in the hands of drug users, it’s really the entire community who pays the price for this horrible epidemic,” added Apel.