The opioid eidemic in our country is a hot topic of discussion these days, and a bona fide national health crisis. Every day, dozens die from overdoses of the highly addictive heroin and fentanyl, and hundreds more are revived with shots of NARCAN by first responders.
In the past, we’ve been quick to categorize drug addicts as low-lifes, criminals, and nothing more. But if there is one positive thing to come out of the opioid epidemic, I believe it’s this: an empathy and understanding that drug addiction can happen to any of us, or any of our kids. Opioid addiction in particular often starts with a legally prescribed drug—something as simple as being given Vicodin after your wisdom tooth surgery—and people find themselves in the grip of addiction before they know what’s happened.
One grieving mom, Susan Frost Lamoureux, from Seminole, Oklahoma, recently used her local police department’s Facebook page to try and communicate to others how the opioid epidemic and heroin addiction really does touch “normal” people like you and me. She posted an photo of her daughter Alexa’s beautiful face, with the question, “Is the girl in the photograph the image you picture when you hear the words ‘heroin addict’?
Alexa died of a heroin overdose in September. Susan’s heartbreaking words tell her story below.
This is my daughter, Alexa. And from the moment she was born to the moment she left this earth, she was adored. Loved not only by her family but also by those whose path she crossed. She was inquisitive, playful and intelligent. She was kind and loving with a smile that lit up a conversation, lit up a room, and warmed a heart. She loved books, especially books about spirituality, holistic living, books to help her understand the injustices in the world, and ways that she could find herself. Among her favorites were “The Secret”, “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”, and Victorian romances.
Alexa had a devotion for animals especially horses and her two dogs and spent time training them and caring for them. She kept journals throughout her life with pages full of raw emotion, poetry, and delicate sketches. She was deeply sensitive and felt life intensely.
In the beginning of her college years, Alexa excelled in her classes and earned her place on the Dean’s List. Sometime later, still in college, she met a ‘friend’; a young man who gave Alexa her first dose of heroin. “Just give it a try”. “What harm can it do”? It was from that first use, our daughter became physically and mentally addicted to this drug. She fought desperately and admiringly to overcome the tremendous grip heroin had on her life. Every single day was a battle for Alexa as well as those of us who loved her and had to watch her suffer. We did everything we could; would have given our lives for her. Despite the love and guidance bestowed upon her, the rehabs and detoxes, her perseverance, heroin inevitably took her in and suffocated every dream and aspiration she ever had.
Alexa died of an overdose on September 21st, 2017.
She had periods of time where she was free from heroin. During these times she begged God to keep her sober, sought counseling, used holistic practices, and tried to keep her focus on holistic living and organics, and exercise. But the darkness would eventually settle in again and she would turn to the very drug that caused her so much pain, desperate to escape for a time from her tortuous thoughts of guilt and shame she felt hurting the family she loved so. Alexa described heroin as a “very lonely drug that takes you away from every part of your life and leaves you hanging on the brink of death”.