A Local Family Struggles with the Horrors of Drug Addiction

January 13, 2017


by Dave Morin

The drugs turned a former Nashua High School cheerleader and straight-A student into an unrecognizable addict.

This tragic tale is very real.  A longtime Nashua family has faced it.  For more than a decade, these parents have struggled to regain the loving and vivacious daughter they once knew.

The Hudson~Litchfield News has been fortunate enough to speak with first responders and medical professionals to get an inside look at the community effects and response to the heroin epidemic, but what is the impact on this local family as their daughter battles addiction?

It is devastating for any parent to watch their teenager change and fall into the dark world of drug dependence.  Bill, as he will be called for this story, had a daughter who will be referred to as Emily.  During Emily’s senior year, Bill started to notice a change for the worse:  hanging out with the wrong crowd, grades dropping, and showing disinterest in school activities.  Emily’s enthusiastic personality had dimmed.  It began with prescription drugs such as Percocet, with Emily snorting the drug.  Her need to be high continued to grow as she progressed to using heroin.

“I can’t understand how my daughter who had the whole world in her hands turned out this way,” said Bill.  “The drugs have also affected my life, finances, job performance and have left permanent wounds on my family.”

When heroin became the drug of choice the behavior change became very evident.  Emily would remain awake for days at a time.  The family then began to notice things missing from their home, a friendship ring Bill had given his wife when they were dating, the parents’ wedding rings and other family heirlooms.  These cherished possessions had been stolen and traded for cash to buy drugs.  When Bill would question Emily on her addiction and the missing items, she would always deny, deny, deny.

Next came the dealers and injecting the heroin into her veins with needles.  On several occasions, Bill found Emily standing in a hallway at home swaying back and forth in an unresponsive trance.  He videotaped these events to show his daughter what the drugs were doing to her.

The trust Bill once had in his daughter and the thoughts of her one day being married, having a family and living happily ever after faded away.  He struggled with the constant fear of Emily falling to the deadly consequences of heroin and not surviving the next day.

Emily finally came to the realization that she was addicted to heroin and agreed to seek treatment.  Bill and his wife immediately began researching treatment centers to bring back their daughter from the grip of drug dependency.  What they found was disheartening; area programs had a poor success rates of rehabilitation, limited in-house patient care, programs not geared toward opioid drug addiction and lack of continued care after treatment.  At that time, the Safe Stations Program was not in existence.

Health care professionals advised Bill to send his daughter to the West Coast to the rehabilitation centers in California where she would be isolated from the world and could focus on her treatment.

This treatment put a great financial burden on Bill and his family as $30,000 was needed to cover the cost of Emily’s treatment.  This amount of money was placed on credit cards and taken from savings, adding an additional stress to a family tragedy.

Emily remained in rehabilitation for six months.  She came back to the area clean and drug free.  Unfortunately, a happy ending does not come at the end of this story.  One month after coming home, she had a relapse and again became addicted to drugs.  Another rehabilitation center in Nevada was Emily’s next chance to change her life.  After a few months at the center, she meets a man, also an addict.

The man leaves the center, and he and his mother purchase a plane ticket for Emily to also leave the center.  They move to Missouri where the man is addicted to methamphetamine and Emily continues her dependency of heroin.  Things are tough for Jill and her new boyfriend; their lives continue to be run by the drugs and she asks her dad if they can come home to Nashua.  As any loving father would do to help his daughter, Bill said yes.

Things are good for a short time; Bill gets the boyfriend a job and Emily seems to be working to improve her life.  The drugs again become the ruler.  The boyfriend loses his job.  Next, needles and other drug paraphernalia start to be found around the house.  Emily’s sister forbids her small children from visiting their grandparents for fear of a needle stick or being exposed to the drugs.  This causes great anguish for Bill’s wife who is not able to see her grandchildren.  Bill collects all the needles, spoons, and other drug paraphernalia and confronts Emily and her boyfriend.  They lie and deny that the drug items are theirs.

One horrific event in particular leaves emotional scars on Emily’s younger brother and the rest of the family.  While Bill is at work and his wife is cooking dinner for the family, she calls to her daughter to come and eat.  After a few minutes have passed with no response and Bill’s wife calls out again.  She then sends her younger son to get his sister.  When he entered the room he finds Emily unresponsive on her bed, her skin blue, with a heroin needle still in her arm.

Bill’s wife is able to get Emily to start breathing.  The family calls an ambulance.  Emily is transported to the hospital for treatment for an overdose and is released a few hours later.  This overdose was the breaking point for Bill.  He could no longer bear the thought of losing his daughter, but he also no longer trusted her.  Her years of lies, stealing, and drug use had pushed him to his emotional limit.  He told Emily she had to go, and she and her boyfriend returned to Missouri.

Today Bill keeps his feeling bottled up and feels he has “no outlet to get them out.”  What else troubles him is how others look down on the drug addict as useless.  Terms like low life, ‘scrotbag’ or loser hit him like punches.  In Bill’s eyes, these derogatory words do not reflect these people who are just like the rest of us.  Drugs affect all classes of the population.  Addicts are someone’s daughter, son, father or mother.  Even though they have a dependence they are still family members.

These days, the only time Bill might have contact with his daughter is when she needs something.  Most likely it is a request for a new phone.  He refuses to help her fearing she will sell the phones for money to buy drugs.  He can never trust her again; something that hurts him deeply.  Bill’s wife still remains in contact with Emily, who is now in her 30s.

Now Emily is pregnant, and Bill has very serious concerns for the baby’s well-being.  With a tremble in his voice, Bill said, “I hate to say it (but)I hope the baby is taken away from her.  She is not fit to be a mother; it would be a blessing for all.  I don’t think she will ever get better until the boyfriend is out of her life.”