52 Lexington County drug-related deaths already in 2023, Taylor Watford Foundation holds seminar to educate public on dangers of drugs

Americans are dying from drug overdoses are at an alarming rate.

As of July 20, there were 52 drug-related deaths in Lexington County. Allison Swygert of the Taylor Watford Foundation shared that statistic from the Lexington County Coroner’s Office at a drug-abuse education seminar Sunday. The Taylor Watford Foundation held the Back-To-School Fentanyl Education Event to inform people about the dangers of substance abuse. It was held Mt. Herman Lutheran Church in West Columbia.

The Taylor Watford Foundation was founded in 2019. “When we started there were not many resources to get help for treatment,” said Jade Watford, who also spoke at the seminar, along with Scottie Frier of the SC Criminal Justice Academy and 34-year veteran of the Lexington County Sheriff’s Department.

Sunday, Swygert shared data showing almost 110,000, or 300-people-a-day, died from drug overdoses in the United States in 2022. Fentanyl is the leading cause of death for the 18-45-year-old age group. It kills more than COVID, car wrecks, suicide or gun violence.

“The threat of fentanyl is very real,” Swygert said. “It’s deadly.” She said kids are solicited by drug dealers through social media apps and deadly pills are made to look like candy.

Watford said talk to your children about the dangers of drug use. She said there are different ways to warn your children. She said parents can bring up local news headlines reporting of drug overdose deaths. She also reviewed ways to help your children say “no” to peers who may be pressuring them to take pills. Just tell them “fentanyl kills” is a blatant response to someone offering a child drugs.

Frier said opioid-use is a serious problem in Lexington County and he has friends who have lost their children to drug overdoses. Frier also said that the use of Narcan can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose long enough to get the overdose victim the the hospital. He said he has administered Narcan repeatedly and it saves lives. Frier said everyone should have it available because you may not know that someone will need it to save their life.

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