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Something is being done for opioid addicts, Kathy Jenkins said of a pilot program to coordinate recovery services.

On Tuesday, the city of Myrtle Beach accepted a $500,000 state grant to grow the program.

Some of the money will be used to add two peer support counselors to work with addicts in Horry and Georgetown counties, identify overlapping services from various organizations, facilitate entry into recovery programs of the addict’s choice, establish drafts for local regulations and develop standards for recovery homes.

“Two and a half years ago, you, the city council, said you’ve got to do something,” said Jenkins, executive director of New Directions, as reports of opioid overdoses increased in the area. “And New Directions was asked to do something.”

New Directions, a nonprofit that focuses on homelessness, offers various services such as job training and addiction recovery. It was tasked with managing the program through an advisory board all under the city’s oversight.

The program is designed to provide information and education to the public as well as bring various groups together that can help addicts on the road to recovery. The groups include recovery centers, area medical professionals and law enforcement.

Since the opioid initiative was launched in 2017, Jenkins said, there has been one peer support specialist. She said there have been 423 clients, 322 coordinated recoveries and 395 inmates seeking help but were unable to leave custody for treatment. The initiative has awarded 97 scholarships totaling $74,872 at an average of $772 per scholarship recipient.

State Rep. Russell Fry, who helped secure the state grant, has said overdoses have increased 40% from the same period last year.

The advisory board working in conjunction with New Directions is made of chairman Trevor Greene, Myrtle Beach Mayor Brenda Bethune, Myrtle Beach Police Chief Amy Prock, Myrtle Beach Municipal Judge Jennifer Wilson, Dr. Christina Lynn of South Strand Behavioral Center, Candy Townsend of the 15th Circuit Drug Court/Mental Health Court director and Terri Nardslico.

Janet Morgan is the editor of the Myrtle Beach Herald. Contact her at 843-488-7258 or at janet.morgan@myhorrynews.com.

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