Fentanyl overdoses on the rise in Aiken County, traces found in other illicit drugs

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AIKEN, S.C. (WJBF) – More fentanyl overdoses are being reported in Aiken County. Now drug treatment providers are scrambling to warn people about the drug’s dangers.

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Experts at the Aiken Alcohol and Drug Center say no recreational drug use is safe especially since traces of Fentanyl have even been found in marijuana.

“They called us back and gave us the terrible news that he had passed away,” said Robert Mackey.

Robert Mackey says he believes his 31-year-old son Bryan did not know what he was taking when he died of an overdose in June.

“It wasn’t long after that, that his girlfriend showed up at the hospital, and she said, he had done some cocaine, and we suspected and still do suspect that it was probably cut with fentanyl,” said Mackey.

Mackey describes his son as a normal everyday guy, who just made a mistake. A mistake that cost him his life.

“According to his girlfriend, it was almost instant, after he snorted this cocaine, that he fell out and started turning blue,” he remembered.

Bryan’s story is not unique in Aiken County. According to a coroner’s report, Fentanyl was found in the systems of more than 80 percent of fatal drug overdose victims since January 1st.

Margaret Key is the executive director for the Aiken Center. She says the fentanyl crisis impacts everybody.

“Perhaps certain demographics in opiod over doses might have come to because it started with a surgery”

And for others, she says it started with experimentation. Key says just this past month there were an estimated 63 suspected overdoses. Two of them fatal. Those numbers come from a national overdose mapping system used by the Aiken Center.

“That’s not even the whole picture, it doesn’t include hospital data, it doesn’t include in home use where someone was revived by Narcan. It’s mostly EMS EMT’S first responders that are apart of this OD mapping to try to get the best real time information where overdoses are happening,” said Key.

Key says Fentanyl has even been found in marijuana in this part of South Carolina.

Aiken Center counselors say the emergency treatment Narcan has saved a lot of lives when it comes to overdosing.

“There’s many people who are prescribed certain narcotics that are well needed and well intentioned but that doesn’t mean that perhaps they make a mistake or misuse their prescription accidentally,” said Jules Tuttle.

Jules Tuttle is a peer support specialist at the Aiken Center. She’s been in recovery for four years and knows up front how Narcan can save lives.

“I have been Narcanned and I have used Narcan when I was in active addiction and what a blessing it was to have that”

Now the center’s staff is continuing to raise awareness of fentanyl and the importance of Narcan. It’s through the Savannah River Roc – a recovery community coming to North Augusta. The center is set to open Thursday August 5th.

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