CONWAY, SC (WBTW) – Lawmakers from the South Carolina House of Representatives met on Wednesday with dozens of community members to talk about the state’s opioid and heroin epidemic.
The lawmakers make up the House of Representatives Opioid Abuse Prevention Study Committee and wanted to hear from the public on how they can help stop the growing epidemic.
Horry County Representative, Russell Fry, said Horry County is the most affected county in South Carolina.
“Not everyone understands the seriousness of what we’re facing,” said Horry County Sheriff Phillip Thompson, who was one of the speakers.
Doctors, law enforcement officials, recovering addicts and mothers also addressed the lawmakers.
“Our son, Timothy, lost his life to an accidental heroin overdose on July 10, 2014” explained Lorraine Ryan. “None of what is said tonight can bring our loved ones back but we hope that with what you hear and have learned tonight will hopefully save others who are struggling with alcohol and drug dependency.”
Noreen Beck, who also lost a son to an overdose, spoke to the group about the need for more in-patient long term treatment centers.
“I’ve lost a child to this disease,” Beck expressed, “And we are never the same people after we lose a child.”
Beck was also featured in a series of Public Service Announcements created by Coastal Carolina University that were released on Wednesday. The videos feature several types of people who have been affected by addiction: parents, law enforcement officials, the coroner and elected officials.
“I knew what could happen, I just never thought it could happen to me,” said Chris Hocker in one of the PSAs. He is a recovering addict and shares his story to bring hope to others.
Beck said she hopes the videos will spread past CCU and Horry County.
“We all have to be aware of this,” she said. “Because we’re losing a generation of children.”
While the PSA campaign and meeting with lawmakers are two different efforts, they both aim to end the heroin and opioid epidemics. The videos are featured on the Horry County Sherrif’s Office and Fifteenth Judicial Circuit Solicitor’s Office Facebook pages.