Aiken, S.C. (WJBF)- Many look forward to the holidays as a time for joy and togetherness. But, for many, it’s a time of sadness and triggers a trauma response. Because of that, drug overdoses typically increase this time of the year.

The holidays just aren’t joyful for everyone and those struggling with substance abuse are more likely to turn to drugs and alcohol for comfort. The rate of OD deaths goes up by more than 20 percent compared the the rest of the year.

“A lot of times, this is not a happy time of year for everyone. And sometimes people feel stress. They feel isolated and we tend to see that increase because of those reasons,” explained Tiffany Birt, Operations Director DHEC Midlands Region.

That’s why DHEC has provided all of its health departments across the state with Overdose Safety kits to pass out- while supplies last.

They each contain two doses of naloxone five fentanyl test strips and educational materials on how to use them and how to identify an opioid overdose.

Birt said the health departments are a judgement free zone. There are no consequences for coming in to pick up a safety kit. She added that they just want to save as many lives as possible.

“This is another way that we are recognizing the need for the community. We see the increase in opioid overdoses and we want to make sure that everyone stays safe.”

South Carolina health departments can now provide up to two kits per person until they run out.

To find your closest health department go to the DHEC website.

For help and services to combat addiction go to the South Carolina Department of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Services.

For mental health services go to the South Carolina Department of Mental Health website or call (844) SC-HOPES (724-6737) and (833) 364-2274.

Photojournalist: Will Baker.