EDGEFIELD COUNTY, S.C. (WJBF) — According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there is an increase in drug overdose deaths across the country.

A new opioid abuse prevention program could help curb the issue in Edgefield County.

“It’s a vicious cycle, but something has got to give, and this may be a great answer,” Edgefield County Sheriff Jody Rowland told NewsChannel 6’s Aiken Bureau Chief Shawn Cabbagestalk.

The Edgefield County Sheriff’s Office and the state health department are working with the Community Opioid Paramedic Education — or COPE — program to help treat substance abuse.

“The Sheriff’s office could deliver Narcan to an overdose victim on Monday. And then by Friday, that person was dead, and no amount of investigation is going to fix that,” he said.

First responders provide resources within 72 hours to people recovering from overdoses.

“You get on our list by surviving an overdose through Narcan. So this follow-up done by the paramedic is to try to get counseling for family or for the patient, the victim,” he added.

State health leaders say data shows opioid overdoses have increased in South Carolina since the start of the pandemic.

In Edgefield County, they were six reported deaths in 2021.

At least three deaths have been reported so far in 2022.

“Edgefield County is way out of proportion to its population on drug overdoses. We go where the leads take us. We go where the evidence takes us, but it became obvious to me quickly that that was simply not enough,” the Sheriff shared.

In Edgefield County, the program started with treating a recent overdose survivor who had been sober for a while.

“The drugs are in the street. As long as that drugs available, they’re going to find it,,” Sheriff Rowland said.

Any EMS agency in South Carolina is eligible to participate in the program.

“We are there to talk to the family, to mediate with the family, whatever we can do. I think it’s worth investing in, and I’m signed on,” he added.