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'I'm tired of meeting to meet:' Local leaders discuss tackling opioid crisis

'I'm tired of meeting to meet': Local leaders discuss tackling opioid crisis (Sydney Glenn/WPDE)

Dozens of people gathered Thursday at Coastal Carolina University for an opioid summit hosted by U.S. Attorney Sherri Lydon.

Although Lydon was unable to attend the discussion because of the government shutdown, several leaders from across our area were there.

People participating in the round table ranged from law enforcement officials, to the Chief Deputy Solicitor for the 15th Circuit, to health care providers and educators. The wide range of voices provided great ideas.

Many leaders, including S.C. Rep. Russell Fry, spoke about the need for less meetings and more concrete solutions.

“These meetings are so critical, but you’re not meeting to meet, you are actually meeting to coordinate and take the best and the brightest and the people want action and I think that’s what people are doing," he said.

While there are things being done, for example last year, 12 pieces of legislation were passed in South Carolina to combat the issue and police departments have stepped up their efforts to get opioids off the streets, it's about working together.

"Let's make a plan so we don't have to do this same meeting next year. Lets's all talk, let's all work together," Horry County Sheriff Phillip Thompson said.

Horry County Police Chief Joe Hill spoke about the importance of getting the dealers off the streets. He said most dealers don't even touch the drugs because they know better.

“This problem is real. It’s not going away anytime soon," Fry said.

Janice Wright-Collier is part of the group "The Addict's Mom." She said people need to see addiction as a disease and that it needs to lose it's negative stigma.

"They are people with a disease, they are not bad people. My little boy, who is now in recovery, was a good little boy and he was loved and he just got hooked up with some wrong people and got hooked on a horrible drug," she said.

It's time for change and there is hope, many leaders stressed. The problem is nationwide.

"People are so tired of their kids dying," Wright-Collier said.

This is just the start. The program is modeled after successful programs in other states.

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