The Day I Saw My Daughter Shoot Up Heroin – By Katie Brennan Donovan

mothers tearsNodding out, shooting up, going on a run, trap house…these were terms all too familiar to me now, in this world of addiction, which my daughter Brittany struggled with. Words that were so unknown to me prior, but yet, now, were a part of my everyday language. She was so deep into her addiction and I was so deep into saving her.

I had a business trip a few years ago to Florida. At this point, Brittany had been in treatment in Florida and had about 60 days clean. I was suspicious she had relapsed, as she began to isolate herself and grow distant. The trip couldn’t have come at a more perfect time, so I extended my stay a few days so I could spend some time with her.

As soon as I arrived, I knew.

Although she greeted me with a huge hug and tears of joy, she looked pale, tired and hadn’t showered for several days. She had moved out of her sober living house and into a room she was renting with another girl.

I questioned her…” Mom, I’m FINE, don’t worry.”. But 2 hours later, we were driving to have lunch, when all of a sudden she said she had to meet her sponsor.  “What are you talking about?  We have plans for lunch?”  “Mom, I HAVE to meet her.” I knew she was lying. I knew too many hours had passed since using and she was needing her fix.

Next thing I know, we were at a red light and without warning, she jumped out of the car and took off. This confirmed it. I couldn’t find her, she wasn’t answering her phone. I walked and searched for hours for her. I had no choice but to go back to my hotel. I didn’t hear from her again until 8 hours later.

This turned into the weekend from hell.

She was on the balcony of the hotel, this beautiful room with a gorgeous view of the ocean. A view which was now blurred with her body nodding out. She was standing, but eyes closed and her body swaying back and forth, knees buckling, like a limp rag doll. I was petrified she would fall over the balcony. My heart was racing with fear, trying to save her from going over. But every time I tried to guide her inside, she would push me away, screaming obscenities. I had to proceed with caution…so I basically sat right on the balcony to keep her safe, until the heroin wore off. This went on for HOURS…

Come sunrise I had finally convinced her to go back into treatment. And there was NO POSSIBLE way I could leave Florida knowing she was in that state of mind. I knew in my heart, if she didn’t go into treatment, I may never see her alive again.

We went to her apartment and began packing her things. We were almost done and ready to roll…I was so relieved!!!

And then she dropped the bomb.

“Mom, please don’t be mad at me. I have to get high again.  I feel so sick.” I begged, pleaded…”Brittany please no! You will be in detox in an hour!” But she couldn’t wait.  “I’ll be back soon mom, and then I’ll go. I promise.”

And she took off walking down the street.

I felt so defeated. I couldn’t breathe. But I knew I couldn’t stop her. Heroin was in complete control of her…mind, body and soul.

So I sat. And waited. And waited. And waited. Gripped in fear and panic. Thoughts racing through my head. Hours went by and I didn’t hear from her…I was so scared to leave to find her, yet so scared NOT to!

My fear got the best of me and I started walking down the street, in hopes that I could find her.  When all of a sudden, I saw a black car and her blonde hair in the backseat.

I slowly walked up to the car, like a robot, on automatic pilot.

I then saw her shooting up heroin.

She quickly spotted me, put her hand out the window and said “Mom, please don’t come any closer.  I’ll be there in a minute”.

I didn’t know what to do!!!  I was so scared, tears streaming down my face. I wanted to run up to that car, grab that dealer and tell him to stay the hell away from my daughter! I was frozen though. My body felt like cement.

A few minutes later she came back home….and we were on our way to detox.

12 hours later, I was on my flight back home to Michigan. Knowing in my heart, I would never be the same again.



About Katie Donovan

Katie has spent the last 20 years in the marketing, events and communications industry. After experiencing the addiction journey with her daughter, Katie left her marketing career, in order to focus on family recovery. She has now dedicated her life to guiding others through the overwhelming process of finding quality treatment for substance abuse, coaching families through their own recovery, and as a consultant for the treatment industry. Katie is the Executive Vice President of the nonprofit, a public speaker on addiction, a featured author/blogger for national advocacy groups such as The Addicts Mom, Magnolia New Beginnings, Stop Frying Your Brain, and the publication The Sober World. Katie and her daughter Brittany also blog about their journey at, which reached over a million views within 30 days of its inception.
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  1. michele stopinski

    My son died on March 7, 2017. He swore to me that he would never do Heroin. Too many young people in our area have been dying. He had fentanyl poisoning. That is the toxin that is being mixed with Heroin these days. He had a seizure and went into respiratory distress. The girl that was with him won’t give any information to our family or the police. I assume she was passed out. He was 23 years old.

  2. Thank you for your story. I have a similar story and now he is in rehab. I don’t want him to come back to my home right after rehab and am thinking of a recovery house. I live in Harrisburg Pennsylvania. How do you know if they are a good one? He is twenty-nine and still has his job.

  3. Thank you for sharing this. I, too, have watched in horror as my loved one needed another drink before going to detox, just to keep the seizures at bay until he could get there. I, too, am working to share what I have learned with other, including recovery life coaching with families of loved ones caught in the throes of this illness.

    May you be blessed to continue this journey.

    Jackie S.

  4. Your story gives me chills and brings back insane pictures in my mind of my similar experience with an adult son. It IS insane because even getting to the point of actually watching someone shoot up…seems normal…omg…

    Thanks for your story

  5. Wherever thou goest I will go
    Wherever thou lodgest I will lodge
    Thy people shall be my people and
    Thy God my God.
    The things we do for Love
    But I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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