My daughter was addicted to heroin at 15 – she hid syringes around the house & our dog saved her life when she overdosed


My daughter was addicted to heroin at 15 – she hid syringes around the house & our dog saved her life when she overdosed

WHEN Christine Naman got a call from her daughter’s school, the last thing she expected to be told was that she’d been caught with clas

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WHEN Christine Naman got a call from her daughter’s school, the last thing she expected to be told was that she’d been caught with class A drugs.

That was just the start of the mum-of-three’s battle to get a grip of Natalie’s terrifying addiction to heroin and fentanyl, which very nearly claimed her life and destroyed their once-happy family.

Christine Namen

Christine discovered her daughter Natalie, pictured recently, was taking heroin when she got a call from her school[/caption]

Christine Namen

Natalie came from a loving home where her parents and two brothers looked out for her[/caption]

At around 12, taunted by cruel bullies, Natalie, now 24, from Monroeville, Pennsylvannia started stealing painkillers from her grandparents’ medicine cabinet in a bid to self medicate and numb the pain.

No one noticed the missing pills as they had been prescribed to her grandfather who had passed away.

Her drug-taking got out of control after she met a boy online who introduced her to heroin at just 15.

From then she began using regularly, and it took multiple overdoses and trips to rehab for her to finally get clean aged 22.

For years Christine, 57, felt ashamed to speak out and ask for help. Now she wishes they’d been braver earlier.

To show other “normal” families plagued by addiction that they are not alone, Natalie and Christine have penned a book about their experience, called About Natalie.

Natalie freely admits she “never expected to live this long”, after several overdoses left her life hanging in the balance.

On one particularly harrowing night, Christine told how her husband Peter, 57, had to physically fight with Natalie to stop her injecting herself.

She recalled: “I had gone to bed a little early, and my husband was in his office working.

“I was just about asleep, and I heard commotion and running. It was nearly 11 o’clock and I come out of my bedroom to see my husband on top of Natalie in the hall.

“They were struggling, and they were wrestling and I looked down to see what was happening, and she was fighting to put a syringe in her arm.

“He was fighting and pulling her away to keep her from doing it.”

It was a rock bottom moment for the family, but worse was yet to come.

One morning when Natalie was 18, the family dog, Obie, saved her life after she overdosed in her childhood bedroom.

Christine recalled: “I’d woken up early on a Saturday and as I went onto the corridor I saw Obie crying and walking towards Natalie’s door and then back to me repeatedly.

“It was a bit odd as he’d never done that before, so I opened Natalie’s door and waited for him to go in. He kept going looking for me and coming back out.

“I took at it as him meaning me to go in so I did and was faced with my daughter turning blue as she had overdosed.”

Christine Namen

Natalie came from a ‘normal’ family but became consumed by addiction[/caption]

Christine Namen

Natalie pictured aged 15 when she began taking heroin[/caption]

Christine Namen

Natalie, pictured aged 18 during the height of her addiction, when she took an overdose[/caption]

Christine screamed for her husband and he grabbed some Nacane – a drug which can reverse an overdose.

Luckily, a double shot brought the teen back to life.

But for her parents and two brothers it had a lasting impact and left them feeling helpless, like they hadn’t done enough to protect her.

Christine hit rock bottom after her daughter’s overdose and prayed it would never happen again.

But two years later it did. This time her then-boyfriend was on hand to give her CPR and call an ambulance.

Christine said: “He’s not my cup of tea but I am grateful that he called 911.

“So many addicts die because the people that are with them don’t help, instead they run away as soon as there’s any kind of distress.”

Natalie used to hide syringes around their house – which on one occasion were found by Obie.

Christine told how she had to wrestle the viles off the pooch to make sure he didn’t hurt himself.

It hurt that people would ask about everyone but Natalie. Some people wanted to be kind, but it hurt more to not be able to talk about her

Christine Naman

“I’d popped back in from the car to grab something and saw Obie there with it in his mouth,” she recalled.

“It was a horrible moment that left me worrying for Natalie as well as the dog.”

During her nine-year battle with addiction, holidays were often ruined by Natalie’s behaviour.

One Mother’s Day she fell asleep at the table in a restaurant, and at a Thanksgiving celebration the family waited to have dinner with her – but she was three hours late.

Despite the fact they were going through hell, Christine said many of their friends never asked how her daughter was doing.

She said: “It hurt that people would ask about everyone but her. Some people wanted to be kind, but it hurt more to not be able to talk about her.

“Every single time someone asked after her it helped. I didn’t want to be afraid to talk about Natalie because she was sick.”

Eventually Christine and Peter decided their daughter needed professional help which they couldn’t provide.

They checked her into a rehabilitation facility, and Christine said taking her there was the hardest drive of her life.

She said: “No matter how old your child is, you want to be the one to take care of them.

“I was trusting strangers with my daughter’s life because I couldn’t fix her. I wanted them to love her and not judge her as I did.

“It was a real leap of faith for everybody.”

Christine never kicked her daughter out of the family home, despite Natalie stealing precious Tiffany jewellery to fund her drug habit, and she still lives there now.

The mum has never been able to get any of the trinkets back as Natalie couldn’t remember where she pawned it.

Christine said: “She was desperate and I believe that she was genuinely remorseful after doing it.

“I was angry but I also forgave her. I knew that addiction was bringing out the worst in her.”

About Natalie is out now. Part of the profits will be donated to mental health charity Highmark Health, Allegheny Health Network. Christine can be reached at

Christine Namen

Natalie came from a happy, stable home but still fell pray to the lure of drugs[/caption]

Christine Namen

Natalie aged 14, a year before she was introduced to heroin by a boy she met online[/caption]

Christine Namen

Natalie, pictured now at 24, has written poems which feature between each chapter in the book[/caption]