The parents of a 23-year-old mum from Belfast who lost her life to drug addiction just two weeks ago are urging others not to get drawn into something so deadly.
Emma Nolan’s desperate mother and father tried and tried to help their youngest daughter but, in the end, there was nothing more they could do.
Her death leaves behind her five-year-old son.
“It’s really hard to watch your daughter dying over 18 months,” her dad Desi said.
“We watched Emma deteriorating badly and we spoke about it and we said: ‘We’re watching our daughter die.’
“And we did.”
Emma suffered a seizure at the home she shared with her parents and little boy two weeks ago.
Her mum Loretta found her.
“Her body was contorted and twisted, her eyes were rolling – I didn’t recognise her,” she said.
“I just couldn’t believe that this was actually happening.”
Although just 23, the last years of Emma’s life had been taken over by addiction – first alcohol and then prescription drugs.
Her parents remember her as a beautiful, vibrant girl when she was sober – but know that, at her worst, she even chose alcohol over her son.
“It actually came to that,” her mum said.
“We were so angry with her one night, we offered her a bottle of vodka and her son was standing there. We said to her: ‘Is this what you want? The bottle of vodka or your son?’
“And she chose the bottle of vodka.”
Loretta added: “That’s what is does. Addiction is so evil. Once it takes over, it ruins families’ lives.
“I’ll always love her, despite what she done – because I know that wasn’t my Emma. She wasn’t herself. I love her as much now as I did the day I give birth to her and I’ll love her ‘til the day I die.”
All Desi and Loretta can do now is bring up their grandson and try to make his life as good as it possibly can be.
“No words will ever describe how I’m feeling inside,” Loretta said.
“But you have to go on, because you’ve other children, your grandchildren, your husband – there’s people out there that need us.
“And for Emma, I’m going to try as hard as I can to go on with life, the way she would have wanted us to.”
But they also hope others hearing their daughter’s story can take heed of the dangers of addiction - before it is too late.
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