MOUNT PLEASANT, S.C. (WCBD) — A Mt. Pleasant babysitter was found on the floor of a kitchen while she was caring for two infants on Monday, March 6. Police say the woman, 28-year-old Kristen Morley, had been using heroin. Morley was taken to the hospital and the two children in her care are unharmed, but this situation could’ve ended much differently. It’s an addiction that can impact anyone, more than 90 people died of heroin overdose in the Lowcountry last year. Charleston County’s overdose death rate is more than 50% higher than the national average. Heroin addicts usually start with prescription pills.
Lisa Mitchell, Co-Chair of Wake Up: Carolina, says, “You take it a few times and before you know it, you want it over, and over, and over. And when the opiods are hard to get on the streets, or they get too expensive, heroin is the next best thing.”
According to police, Morley was the nanny for this family for about a month. Doctors say there can be signs of heroin use.
Dr. Thomas Lewis, Addiction Psychology Fellow at MUSC says, “Obviously if someone is highly intoxicated on a substance such as heroin, we would see that they may be slurring their speech, they may be breathing more slowly, they might begin to nod off and look more sleepy.”
But he says it can be difficult to tell the first time you meet someone, especially if they are not high at the time. The clues can come from the trends.
Dr. Lewis says, “You want to see if there’s an acute change in behavior or look at patterns of changes in behavior. If they’ve been good at their job and maybe they start missing work, and they are not able to fulfill their obligations at their employment, and it’s a sudden shift, that could certainly be cause for concern.”
He says the key is to check references and ask those references about any sudden changes to work ethic.
Dr. Lewis says, “They would raise concerns about caring for a child appropriately and you can get an idea of what’s going on.”
Kristen Morley was charged with possession of drug paraphernalia and police say more charges could come in the future.
According to the non-profit Wake Up: Carolina, one way to prevent heroin addiction is making people aware about the tie between prescription drugs and heroin. There is a Drug Take-back scheduled for April 29th where the DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) will be collecting prescription drugs no longer used to keep them from getting into the wrong hands.
If you or someone you know has a prescription drug or heroin addiction, you can contact MUSC’s Center for Drug and Alcohol Program at (843) 792-2727, or they have a walk in clinic at 67 President Street in downtown Charleston.