South Carolina is a beautiful place, but it’s sunny beaches and dense forests do not change the fact that the state suffers from major drug and alcohol abuse issues.

South Carolina has higher than average rates of abuse for many drugs, including alcohol, opioids, and marijuana. Some substances are abused far more often than others, because of factors including availability, price, and the demographics of users.

So, what are the top 5 most commonly abused drugs for the state of South Carolina? Keep reading to find out.

#1: Alcohol

By the numbers, alcohol use is South Carolina’s biggest substance abuse issue— and it’s not even close. About 45% of people who got treatment for substance abuse in the state in 2017 listed alcohol as their primary drug of choice.

Because it is legal, it can be easy to forget that alcohol is a drug at all, albeit an extremely dangerous one. Nationwide, alcohol causes tens of thousands of deaths every year by way of accidents like car crashes, long-term health issues, and poisoning.

Let’s take a look at the stats, which tell the full story when it comes to the alcohol problem in SC:

  • Almost 9,000 people needed treatment for alcohol abuse in SC in 2017.
  • It is estimated that 266,000 people live with an alcohol use disorder in South Carolina.
  • About 22% of South Carolinians engaged in binge drinking in the month prior when surveyed recently.

#2: Fentanyl

A new drug has found its way into the streets of South Carolina, and it is a very deadly one. Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid drug that can be used to treat extreme pain caused by cancer. It can also be made and sold illegally on the black market.

Fentanyl is 100 times more powerful than morphine. Drug dealers are selling fentanyl disguised as cocaine or heroin, leading to hundreds of overdose deaths. This deadly drug is causing massive tragedy in SC, where overdose rates have risen sharply recently.

The stats on fentanyl tell the full story:

  • Synthetic opioid overdose deaths, mainly caused by fentanyl, rose from 46 deaths in 2012 to a whopping 460 in 2018.
  • Although deaths from prescription drugs have fallen, the opioid overdose numbers continue to rise in SC, mainly because of fentanyl.

#3: Meth

Meth is a very dangerous and addictive stimulant. This drug can turn users into addicts in a matter of days. It causes major health issues and tolerance builds quickly, making overdose likely.

Meth has fallen out of media attention in recent years, mostly because of the opioid crisis. But just because one crisis is beginning does not mean that another is ending.

Meth use is still widespread in some areas, including in SC. Let’s check out the stats:

  • Almost 7% of SC’s 2017 treatment admissions were people who had amphetamine addictions.
  • Unlike most drugs, women are more likely to abuse amphetamines in SC than men.
  • People between the ages of 26 and 35 account for about 50% of SC’s meth abuse.

#4: Marijuana

Just because pot is being legalized in states across the country does not mean that it is safe for everyone to use. People these days are touting the drug as ‘non-addictive’, but this is simply not true in many cases. In South Carolina, more than 26% of the state’s 2017 treatment admissions were people suffering from problems with weed.

Let’s look into some more stats about pot use in South Carolina to get a better idea of the issue:

  • 35% of South Carolina high schoolers say they’ve used marijuana before.
  • Cannabis arrests have increased in SC recently.
  • About 60% of SC’s marijuana treatment admissions were men.

#5: Heroin

The opioid epidemic is dying down in many areas, but it leaves behind some major problems. Although pain pill abuse is declining in SC and across the country, heroin abuse is on the rise. Why? Because opioid addicts are turning to heroin when they can’t get their prescription painkiller fix.

Here are the stats for heroin abuse in SC:

  • 777 people checked into treatment for heroin abuse in SC in 2017.
  • Both men and women are affected equally by heroin abuse in SC.
  • Heroin overdoses rose every year in SC from 2011 to 2017.

Get Treatment for Drug Abuse in South Carolina

If you are one of the thousands of South Carolinians suffering from drug and alcohol abuse problems, you can get help. Substance abuse is a slippery slope—even if you think you have the issue ‘under control’, you can end up with a full-blown addiction.

Don’t let your life be ruined by drugs or alcohol. Get the help you need by visiting a rehab facility. Call your local treatment center today to learn more about your options. Don’t hesitate; it could be the most important call of your life.


  1. ALCOHOL ABUSE STATISTICS: North Carolina & South Carolina. (n.d.)
  2. DASIS Quick Statistics. (n.d.)
  3. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2019, March 29). South Carolina Opioid Summary
  4. South Carolina (SC) | CBHSQ Data. (n.d.)
  5. South Carolina Adolescent Substance Abuse Facts. (2019, May 1)

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