South Carolina Drug Use Trends
South Carolina is home to 4,832,482 residents (2014 census) and is the twenty-forth most populous of the fifty states. The state's economy is based on agriculture and industry. Leading agricultural outputs include: poultry, tobacco, and cattle while leading industrial outputs include: chemical products, textile goods and paper products. Due to the state's location, South Carolina plays a critical role in the shipment and distribution of narcotics and other illicit substances across the southeast. A number of criminal groups and gangs monopolize the illegal drug market in the state.
Prescription Drug Addiction
The increasing prescription drug threat in South Carolina is a cause for concern. Criminal groups utilize the state's major highways to transport prescription medications and illicit drugs throughout South Carolina and across state lines. Residents abuse a variety of prescription drugs including OxyContin, Hydrocodone, Methadone and Xanax. These prescription drugs are obtained through a number of different sources including: doctor shopping, pharmaceutical theft, internet sales, personal theft from friends and family, abusing a legitimate prescription and purchasing the medication through street level drug dealers. The state also has a problem with pain management clinics. These clinics prescribe prescription pain medication to individuals without taking into consideration their medical history or if they have a history of substance abuse.
During 2012, South Carolina drug rehab programs enrolled 2,282 individuals for prescription drug addiction treatment. This group made up 11.5% of all South Carolina drug rehab enrollments that year. 53.5% of the individuals enrolling in South Carolina drug rehabs for prescription drug addiction were female and 46.5% were male. The largest age group to receive prescription drug addiction treatment in South Carolina during 2012 was between the ages of 26-30 years old.
In 2008, the state launched the South Carolina Prescription Monitoring Program. The purpose of this program is to collect data on all Schedule II-IV controlled substances dispensed in the state. The South Carolina Prescription Monitoring Program's intention is to: "improve the state's ability to identify and stop diversion of prescription drugs in an efficient and cost effective manner that will not impede the appropriate medical use of legal controlled substances."
Marijuana addiction was the leading reason for South Carolina drug rehab enrollments during 2012. The majority of the marijuana in South Carolina originates in Mexico and is smuggled into the state through southern states like Florida and Texas. Canadian marijuana is also found in South Carolina brought into the state from Colorado and Illinois. Locally grown marijuana is seen in South Carolina. With the state's adequate precipitation, South Carolina has a number of illegal operations domestically cultivating cannabis.
- During 2012, an estimated 88% of all marijuana possession arrests (as opposed to arrests for manufacturing or sales of marijuana) made up all marijuana-related arrests in South Carolina.
- In 2007, an estimated 58% of all drug arrests in South Carolina were for marijuana.
- During 2010, marijuana was the most commonly mentioned substance of addiction among South Carolina drug rehab enrollments.
- In 2011, 44% of South Carolina high school students had used marijuana at least once in their lifetime.
- Criminal organizations utilize various vehicles, tractor-trailers, commercial airlines, buses, trains and parcel services to transport marijuana into South Carolina. Key locations along shipment routes include Charleston, Florence and Myrtle Beach.
- During 2012, an estimated 5,759 individuals enrolled in South Carolina drug rehab programs for marijuana addiction. This made up 28.9% of all South Carolina drug rehab enrollments during that year.
South Carolina Drug Rehab
Recovery from drug addiction often involves enrolling in a South Carolina drug rehab program. The state has a number of highly effective and successful drug rehab program for residents looking to overcome their drug and alcohol addiction problem. The range of treatment options for addiction recovery in South Carolina includes everything from inpatient drug rehab centers to support groups. The right type of program is dependent on the individual's addiction history, their willingness to get treatment and their ability to commit to an intensive drug rehab program. When at all possible, inpatient residential drug rehab programs are the best option for overcoming alcoholism and drug addiction. These intensive types of rehabilitation programs provide:
- a safe atmosphere during recovery
- are often long-term allowing the time necessary for the individual to fully withdrawal from their substance use and begin the process of adapting a new sober lifestyle
- include aftercare options to help graduates maintain their sobriety
During long-term inpatient residential treatment the recovering individual will live in a highly structured environment where they are able to focus a majority of their energy on uncovering the issues that drove them to abuse substances, resolve these issues and adopt constructive ways have handling life clean and sober.
Population in South Carolina:4,255,083
State Prison Population in South Carolina:23,428
Probation Population in South Carolina:38,856
Violent Crime Rate in South Carolina:
2007 Federal Drug Seizures in South Carolina:
Cocaine seizures in South Carolina:477.0 kgs.
Heroin seizures in South Carolina:0.0 kgs.
Methamphetamine seizures in South Carolina:0.7 kgs.
Marijuana seizures in South Carolina:10.1 kgs.
Hashish seizures in South Carolina:0.0 kgs.
MDMA seizures in South Carolina:0.0 kgs./158 du
Meth Lab Incidents in South Carolina:24
(DEA, South Carolina, and local city Law Enforcement)
Drug Situation in South Carolina:
- South Carolina has previously been considered a "consumer state" rather than a "source state" for illegal drugs. South Carolina was increasingly documented as a transshipment corridor for all manner of illicit drugs and drug currency . New intelligence reports reveal that South Carolina is becoming a distribution point for drugs smuggled from the California, Florida, Georgia, New York, Texas, and Mexico.
- South Carolina is strategically located midway between Miami and New York City, where I-20, I-26, and I-77 intersect with I-95 and I-85. South Carolina's location is perfect for transshipping illegal drugs all around the Eastern seaboard.
- From Mexico and the Southwest Border States, traffickers travel daily through South Carolina on I-20 and I-85 to supply northeastern states with cocaine, marijuana, methamphetamine, and heroin.
- Cocaine hydrochloride (HCI), crack cocaine, and methamphetamine are the prime illegal drug threats in South Carolina.
- There has been mounting evidence of organizational activity in South Carolina extending to major distribution hubs, such as New York City (cocaine and heroin), southern Florida (cocaine and Ecstasy), southern Texas/Mexico (cocaine, marijuana, and methamphetamine), and southern California (methamphetamine, marijuana, and cocaine). Investigations are becoming more complex and cross various jurisdictions in South Carolina and nationwide jurisdictions.
- Cocaine HCl and crack cocaine abuse have long been South Carolina's major drug threat; however, methamphetamine poses an increasing threat.
- Methamphetamine manufacturing and trafficking has shown a steady decline over the past two years throughout South Carolina from 2005 to 2007.
- At the present time, Mexican Drug-Trafficking Organizations (DTOs) are the most common wholesale suppliers of marijuana, cocaine and, to a lesser extent, methamphetamine throughout the state of South Carolina.
- South Carolina has had a significant increase in drug-trafficking activity, possibly due to the influx of Mexican immigrants. While it is true that most immigrants to South Carolina are not involved in drug trafficking, their presence allows traffickers from Mexico - as well as other Latin American countries - to hide within ethnic Hispanic communities in South Carolina.
- Cocaine and crack cocaine are among the most widely abused drugs throughout the state of South Carolina.
- Mexican DTOs dominate trafficking of cocaine in South Carolina.
- Traffickers of cocaine in South Carolina use an array of smuggling methods to include private vehicles, commercial tractor-trailers using I-85, I-26, I-95 and I-20.
- Traffickers of cocaine in South Carolina have been known to utilize containerized cargo at the Port of Charleston.
- Heroin is easily available in multi-gram quantities throughout South Carolina and is routinely packaged in "bindles" for distribution.
- Intelligence shows that South American, Southeast Asian, and Mexican heroin is available in South Carolina.
- Smugglers of heroin in South Carolina use a variety of concealment methods including express mail and land transportation to bring heroin into the state.
- New York, New Jersey, and Mexico are the most common sources for heroin distribution in South Carolina.
- Mexican DTOs are the most common sources for heroin in the city of Columbia, South Carolina. Interstate 20 is frequently used route heroin into this area.
- African-American DTOs with links to New York and Baltimore control heroin trafficking in the Charleston, South Carolina metropolitan area.
- Heroin is brought into the Charleston, South Carolina area primarily by privately owned vehicles using I-95 and I-85.
- The heroin user population has in the past been a limited and stable group generally located in the inner cities of South Carolina, recent information shows an increasing pattern of heroin use by a younger population in "experimental" or "party" situations.
- Methamphetamine is a persistent threat in the state of South Carolina; however, methamphetamine manufacture and abuse has shown a steady decline over the past two years throughout South Carolina from 2005 to 2007.
- Mexico and local suppliers are the main sources for methamphetamine in South Carolina with Atlanta reported as a source city.
- Methamphetamine is typically transported to South Carolina from Mexico, California, and Atlanta by private vehicle using I-20 and I-95.
- During 2006, South Carolina passed legislation to halt indiscriminate access to over-the-counter cold and allergy medications containing pseudo ephedrine to clandestine laboratory operators and their associates, as a way to curb manufacture of the drug.
- There were 69 meth lab incidents in South Carolina in 2007.
- Ecstasy (MDMA) is easily available in several cities in South Carolina, mostly in the areas of Greenville and Columbia, and those cities along the Atlantic coast.
- During the past year, there has been a notable increase in Ecstasy distribution throughout South Carolina with traffickers based out of Columbia distributing a significant portion of the Ecstasy sold.
- Recent information shows that Atlanta, Georgia, has become a significant hub for MDMA distribution in South Carolina.
- Typically, users of MDMA in South Carolina are between the ages of 16 and 25 in the middle-to-upper-middle-class economic bracket, and may be college students or young professionals.
- MDMA in South Carolina is found primarily at private parties, fitness facilities, clubs, school/college campuses, and associated "hang-outs."
- Marijuana is the most prevalent illegal drug of abuse in South Carolina, and comes primarily from Mexico by way of I-20. I-26 and I-95 are popular routes for traffickers targeting Charleston, Florence and Myrtle Beach areas.
- African-American DTOs with sources in Atlanta and Miami are also suppliers of marijuana in the Charleston, South Carolina area.
- Both Mexican and domestic varieties of marijuana are easily available in South Carolina.
- BC Bud marijuana is also available in South Carolina but to a lesser degree.
- Use and abuse of Marijuana in South Carolina continues to be extensive, partly because of the large number of college students throughout the state.
- Traffickers of marijuana in South Carolina use vehicles, tractor-trailers, commercial air, buses, trains, and commercial express parcel services to import marijuana from Mexico through California.
- A small percentage of marijuana is locally grown in South Carolina.
- Members of the South Carolina National Guard and the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) eradicate small patches of outdoor marijuana in South Carolina on a routine basis.
- The Domestic Cannabis Eradication and Suppression Program (DCE/SP) reports seizures and arrest statistics in South Carolina.
- There has been an escalation of incidents of LSD distribution and abuse in South Carolina, as well as incidents of Rohypnol and Ketamine appearing in nightclubs in those communities along the Atlantic coast and upstate South Carolina.
- Recent investigations show that diversion of OxyContin, hydrocodone products (such as Vicodin), and pseudoephedrine continues to be a problem in South Carolina.
- Primary methods of diversion of pharmaceuticals being reported in South Carolina are illegal sale and distribution by health care professionals and workers, and "doctor shopping".
- Methadone, benzodiazepines, MS Contin, and fentanyl are also identified as being among the most commonly abused and diverted pharmaceuticals in South Carolina.
- According to investigations by the Columbia DO Diversion Group, OxyContin, Methadone, Fentanyl and Hydrocodone are creating the greatest concerns in South Carolina. These Schedule II and III drugs are usually taken in combination with benzodiazepines and Soma, a non-controlled drug that is highly abused.
- Drug proceeds in South Carolina are normally moved by commercial tractor-trailers and privately owned vehicles. These vehicles are frequently equipped with special electronically controlled compartments.
- Money transfers, vehicle and real estate purchases, clothing stores, and details shops are all involved in the process of laundering money throughout South Carolina.
- The DEA supports South Carolina state and local efforts with specialized programs aimed at the availability of drugs in the state.
- There were 256 drug violation arrests in South Carolina in 2007.