Mom on a mission: Woman raises awareness after heroin overdose kills son

Mom on a mission: Woman raises awareness after heroin overdose kills son
Published: Aug. 31, 2016 at 7:46 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 31, 2016 at 8:56 PM EDT
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Source: Nanci Shipman
Source: Nanci Shipman

CHARLESTON COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - A rally at North Charleston Riverfront Park aims to highlight drug problems in the Lowcountry, for Overdose Awareness Day.

For one Lowcountry mother, it's much needed.

"July 17, last month, and it seems like it's been forever and it seems like it's yesterday," Nanci Shipman said, with a tear in her eye.

July 17 is the day Shipman's 19-year-old son Creighton died.

The Wando High School graduate, oldest child of four, star lacrosse player overdosed on heroin.

"He was very functional, great grades, great friends," Shipman said.

Shipman said it started when Creighton was a freshman in high school. He had a lacrosse injury.He was cleated and got a bone disease.

"We had to have emergency surgery and obviously it was completely necessary to have painkillers," Shipman said.

Those painkillers had opioid, the same high you can get from heroin.

Those painkillers later drew Creighton to heroin.

"This is a disease," Shipman said. "People aren't making choices to lose their families to lose their lacrosse scholarship."

Shipman sent Creighton to a rehab center in Georgia.

During the 6-week program he wrote his mom letters.

"He said how many days, how many weeks he had been clean and he said that doesn't sound like a lot but it's a fabulous start," Shipman said. "Of course I thought he would beat this. He thought he would beat this."

After rehab, Creighton turned back to the drug.

That's something DEA resident agent in charge of Charleston Jason Sandoval said is common with heroin use.

"It is highly addictive and it is next to impossible to break the cycle of addiction," Sandoval said.

Sandoval said heroin use is sweeping the country, in most cases starting with stories similar to Creighton's.

"The threat of heroin addiction begins with that medicine bottle and can end with fatal consequences," Sandoval said.

He explained 61% of daily drug overdoses are from heroin and Charleston sees two to three times more heroin use than the average community.

Shipman hopes those numbers change soon.

"We have peace where he is, but we miss him," Shipman said. "But we can see his light in so many people and I have hope for a difference."

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