CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – Through heartbreaking tragedy, Nanci Steadman Shipman is changing how we view addiction, empowering young people to reclaim their lives, and educating our community. She’s a remarkable woman.
Nanci Steadman Shipman lost her son when he was 19 years old. “My oldest son Creighton, we lost him July 17th 2016, and he’s the oldest of five. I just don’t want another family to feel alone. Healing is possible. Hope is real,” say Shipman.
The smart student and lacrosse player was a freshman in college. He suffered a severe sports injury and was prescribed opiods. That dependency later led to a heroin addiction. Shipman says, “One day he called and he said mom I need some help. We met and he looked at me and he said I want my life and family back, and I said it’s drugs isn’t it, and he said yes.”
Shipman says Creighton went to rehab. “It was time to leave and I gave Creighton a hug and I said I respect and honor you so much for doing this. I love you with my whole heart.” However, he refused to commit to a plan for recovery after rehab. Shipman says, “I said I don’t want to beg you, but I’m asking one more time please. I love you. I support you. I have hope in your recovery. Please, please! He said mom I can’t. I breathed,, and gave him a hug and he said mom I love you so much, and I said I love you so much too. I left, and that was July 13th, and for two nights I had nightmares that he was going to be a John Doe. I get a knock on my door july 15th morning. I opened the door. It was the police.”
Nanci learned her son had overdosed and was in a hospital in Columbia. She says, “I walked into the room, and there was my son laying there. What I didn’t know when 911 was called, he did not have a heart beat. He had a faint pulse, but they worked very hard on him. I walked in and I went to give him a kiss. Looked at the bracelet on his wrist and it said John Doe. My heart sank. I looked at the nurse and I said this is Creighton. The following day July 17th was the last day Creighton was on this earth.”
Nanci’s daughter’s words during Creighton’s final hours, sparked a movement. “She said we need to share this so no one like Creighton struggles alone, and a family won’t feel alone like we did. When we lost him that day, it opened up something I didn’t know existed. I knew that we had to share our story even if it helped one person,” Nanci says.
WakeUp Carolina was born, a non profit organization founded to raise awareness and provide hope in recovery. Shipman says, “WakeUp evolved from just being awareness and education to having this recovery piece, recovering out loud. Recover a piece of you. You can live and live well and thrive.”
The recovery piece is called Creighton’s House, a safe place for teenagers and young adults in recovery. Shipman says, “Everyone wants to know is it sober living, is it an actual house? It is not. It’s our recovery piece for WakeUp Carolina. What we’ve learned is kids are not a big fan of saying meetings. So they will say, I’m going to Creighton’s House. O.K. see you later. It’s something to help bridge that gap.”
Providing hope, raising awareness, and facilitating recovery through resources. “We help with resources. We have worked very hard to find detox facilities, sober living, inpatient rehab, out patient services. Losing Creighton was the hardest thing in our entire lives. What we want to do is help one person not feel alone. Help one family not feel alone. I think we’re making a difference. Kids are telling us if it wasn’t for Creighton’s House, they wouldn’t know what recovery looks like.”
Nanci Steadman Shipman’s work continues to keep other families from experiencing addiction tragedies. She says, “When you’re called to do something, when you’re really called to do something, a lot of times you don’t feel qualified. I’ve questioned it. I’ve prayed if this is what I’m supposed to do, open the door real big. If it’s not, close it shut, and the door opens up real big with a big flashing sign that says just keep doing it. “
WakeUp Carolina is a community Narcan distributor, and has trained police officers throughout the Lowcountry to use the overdose reversal drug.
All WakeUp Carolina services are free and funded by generous donations and grants from individuals, corporations and government entities. If you would like to donate or volunteer services, click here: https://wakeupcarolina.org/