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TOO YOUNG

My daughter died of a heroin overdose on her childhood bedroom floor at 28 – she got hooked from one hit at uni

GRADE A student Lexi Lamoureux seemingly had it all - loving parents, two adored brothers, a nice home, a university degree and a devoted boyfriend.

But aged 28 she died. A few days earlier, while texting her boyfriend, she had injected her final dose of heroin. It was 9.45am and she was lying on the floor of her childhood bedroom.

 Lexi, left, pictured with her devastated mum Susan
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Lexi, left, pictured with her devastated mum SusanCredit: Susan Frost/Collect

Years earlier, while studying for her law degree, Lexi had - with a group of student pals - tried heroin.

That one time was enough. She couldn't stop.

Her mum Susan has not tried to shield the reality of her daughter's death. "If my precious daughter could become addicted from that first heroin use and subsequently die from an overdose, then it can happen to your child or loved one," she says.

Now Susan, 51, from Maine, USA, speaks exclusively to Fabulous Digital:

 Lexi died after injecting heroin aged 28
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Lexi died after injecting heroin aged 28Credit: Susan Frost/Collect

Lexi, my daughter, was inquisitive, playful and intelligent. A top student, she was kind and loving with a smile that lit up a room.

From the very beginning she excelled in school and aged 18, Lexi went to study law at Lowell University in Massachusetts.

Then, aged 19, she injected heroin for the first time while living on her college campus.

A friend had acquired a small amount. She told me and promised she wouldn't do it again and I believed her.

But from that first time the vicious cycle of addiction took hold and Lexi would never be the same again.

It was heart-wrenching for those of us who loved her as we watched her suffer. We did everything we could think of, desperate to help her in some way. We bestowed unconditional love, guidance, and encouragement upon her.

We are not addicts.  We are loving parents who have always given the best to our children.  Lexi was not a "junkie", as some would say.

Susan Lamoureux

Time and time again she went to rehab, gained strength, started her life again and was determined to stay free from heroin.

She held down jobs, attended classes, studied alternative therapies, and focused on holistic living and eating but, out of nowhere and despite all the positives in her life, the darkness would creep into Lexi’s mind again.

Ultimately, Lexi would turn to the very drug that caused her the intense pain and heartache.

 Lexi, with her mum, was already using the drug when this picture was taken
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Lexi, with her mum, was already using the drug when this picture was takenCredit: Susan Frost/Collect

On September 16, 2017, at 10.30am Lexi was at home when her dad Chris, 51, screamed to call an ambulance.

I jumped up and ran to the living room to find Chris stumbling down the stairs - he'd found Lexi laying unconscious on her bedroom floor.

When I went in she looked like she was sleeping and I immediately reached down to feel her wrist for her pulse but there wasn't one - her heart was not beating.

Chris started to give her CPR as I screamed, "Please God, don't take her. Please, please don't take her."

As I looked to the doorway I saw Jacob, Lexi's baby brother who was 16 at the time.

He had a look of terror in his eyes as he watched what was taking place in front of him. Tears were pouring out of his eyes and down his cheeks.

After what felt like hours, the paramedics arrived.

In just minutes, Lexi was whisked past and taken to a local hospital before being transferred to a bigger one in Maine.

Chris started to give her CPR as I screamed, "Please God, don't take her.  Please, please don't take her."

Susan Lamoureux

Our then-25-year-old son Jeremy arrived at hospital while the doctors were in the middle of explaining to us how dire Lexi's life situation was.

They believed her brain had been without oxygen for approximately 45 minutes. She had been texting with her boyfriend, Alex, up until 9.45am and then she did not answer his texts to her.

The next day we were shown a cat scan of Lexi's brain as she lay unconscious but being kept alive by machines.

It was terrible news. The doctor said the only part of Lexi's brain which was working was the bit which controlled her heartbeat and if she survived she would not be the same.

 Tributes paid to Lexi after her early death - her mum wants to raise awareness of what happened to her
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Tributes paid to Lexi after her early death - her mum wants to raise awareness of what happened to herCredit: Susan Frost/Collect

He explained that he had studied over 700 cat scans and that he had never seen one worse than Lexi's.  There was no hope for our Lexi. We were all devastated.

We decided to donate Lexi's organs and during the time searching for appropriate recipients, Lexi was kept alive.

I insisted on staying with Lexi and spent the long nights talking to her, kissing her and telling her simple things like how she had her daddy's chin. I counted her freckles and studied her fingers and toes desperate to etch them into my mind - so worried I would forget.

I counted her freckles and studied her fingers and toes desperate to etch them into my mind - so worried I would forget

Susan Lamoureux

Each day I washed Lexi's face and put lotion on it, Chapstick on her lips and dabbed her favourite perfume behind her ears and on her wrists.

I nuzzled into her neck as I cried for her and I cried for me and I cried for our family.

Three days after she came into hospital, on the Tuesday, we were told of a woman who was in desperate need of Lexi's lungs and another very sick patient that needed Lexi's liver.

Lexi would go to surgery on Thursday at 12.30pm.

 Lexi loved dogs, her mum told Fabulous Digital
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Lexi loved dogs, her mum told Fabulous Digital

On our last night together, after everyone went home, I began counting down the hours that I had left with her. We had finished bathing her and she had a fresh beautiful braid in her hair.  The nurse cut off a piece and gave it to me.

It was 3am and Lexi was all tucked in. I was standing beside her holding her hand and staring at her.

The donor nurse entered the room, looked at me for a few seconds then said, "Would you like to get into bed with your daughter"?  She said I could cuddle with her.

I didn't take my eyes off of her beautiful face.  And as doors closed, I felt my heart shatter into a million pieces.

Susan Lamoureux

I crawled into her bed right beside her and for the the next six hours I snuggled with my Lexi.

I kissed her and cried for what would never be for her.

It was Thursday morning and Chris and the boys, Lexi's boyfriend, Alex, and the rest of our family began to arrive. I stayed in bed with Lexi until the nurses came in to get her ready for surgery. It was that dreaded time: 12.30pm.

I was crying as I told her over and over "I love you" and "I am so proud of you" and the staff buzzed around us disconnecting all the tubes and wires, and reconnecting them to the portable machines.

Where can you get help for heroin addiction?

If you need treatment for addiction to heroin or another opiate drug you can either see your GP or contact your local drug treatment service.

According to the NHS, your first appointment your doctor or drugs worker will ask you lots of questions including:

  • how much heroin you take
  • whether you are using any other drugs or alcohol
  • how your physical and mental health is
  • what your personal circumstances are, for example, where you live and who you are living with
  • whether you have had treatment for drugs before

There are other support groups available including Narcotics Anonymous or SMART Recovery.

I felt so distraught that I couldn't be with her when she took her last breath and when her heart beat for the last time.

I knew I had to let her go. But I'll never forget the moment where I gave my Lexi one last kiss then watched her being pushed into the elevator. I didn't take my eyes off of her beautiful face.  And as doors closed, I felt my heart shatter into a million pieces.

That evening, as promised, the donor nurse called me. It was 6.15pm. She informed me that Lexi's lungs and liver had been successfully transplanted.

 Lexi had a happy upbringing, her mum Susan explained
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Lexi had a happy upbringing, her mum Susan explainedCredit: Susan Frost

The horrible stigma of people who become addicted to heroin needs to be dispelled.

Our daughter was beautiful inside and out, intelligent, educated, compassionate and well spoken. She was given every opportunity a child should have. We are hard-working parents and have raised our three children with morals and values.

We are not addicts. We are loving parents who have always given the best to our children. Lexi was not a "junkie", as some would say.

She worked from the age of 16 and supported herself until her death. She was somebody. She was our beloved daughter. Her father and I will forever wonder if there was anything we could have done differently.

It only takes one use to become addicted to heroin.

Lexi took heroin that first time having no idea the power it would have over her body and mind.
She was addicted immediately.

I am here to explain this: if my precious daughter, who had the world at her feet and the love and support of her family, could become addicted from that first heroin use and subsequently die from an overdose, then it can happen to your  child or loved one just as quickly and easily.

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