Mother Speaks About Drug Addiction That Destroyed Daughter’s Life

Living with a drug addict can be devastating for all involved. Watching a loved one succumb to this illness is heartbreaking, especially when there is nothing that can be done to stop it happening. This is exactly what happened to Margaret Caldwell, who has spoken about the ‘heroin hell’ her daughter Emma had gone through before she was brutally murdered over eleven years ago.


Emma died in May 2005; she had turned to prostitution out of desperation in a bid to feed her devastating heroin addiction, but to this day her murder has not been solved. She was discovered dead in Lanarkshire woods naked and strangled. Her mum Margaret has now spoken out about the drug addiction that destroyed the life of her ‘little snowdrop’.

She said of the day she discovered Emma was an addict, “Willie and I were in the living room, and Em came in and said she had something to tell us. Then she said, ‘I think I’m a heroin addict’. We just sat there, struck dumb. We were so naive. We didn’t know a thing about drugs. We didn’t know what to say or do or how to help. We just wrapped her up and took her to hospital and begged for help.”

She added, “The doctor didn’t even look us in the eye. ‘There’s nothing we can do,’ she told us. We just wrapped Emma up and brought her home again. We stayed up all night talking and, the next morning, were so naive that we thought we had sorted it out. We lost her that night.”

Unable to Break Addiction

Despite doing everything they could to help Emma, Margaret said they could not break the addiction, adding, “I blamed myself. I still blame myself. I couldn’t see past my own sadness to see Emma’s.”

Margaret’s older daughter Karen had died two years earlier after battling cancer. She said, “I made my grief for Karen all mine. No one could be hurting as much as I was. Nobody could be as heartbroken as I was. And Emma was – I just couldn’t see it. Maybe she would have spoken to me about it if I had been there for her. I didn’t try to help her until it was too late, after she was told there was something that could take away her pain and she took it.”

Close Relationship

Even though Emma continued to battle a heroin addiction, she maintained a close relationship with her parents and lived nearby after moving out. Margaret said, “She would phone every day, sometimes twice or three times a day, just to talk, asking if I had been baking or what we were having for dinner. Willie went to see her every Wednesday, and I’d go and get her on a Saturday or Sunday and drive her back here for a meal. I’d peep my horn outside, and she would come to the window brushing her teeth and holding up a finger, saying she would just be one minute.”

She went on to describe how things changed as the addiction progressed, adding, “But, later on, when I was waiting for her, sometimes she wouldn’t come out. Then I would get a text saying, ‘I’m so sorry, mum, please forgive me. I’ll be all right next week, I promise, I promise’.”

Sadly, Emma’s family had no idea she had started working as a prostitute to feed her addiction. After she had disappeared, they spent weeks searching for her before her body was found. The discovery of her body devastated the family who had tried everything to help their daughter get better. Margaret said, “Em always told us, ‘I’ll be coming home.’ But she never did. It breaks my heart. Every day, it breaks my heart.”

If you are concerned about a loved one’s addiction, contact us here at Recovery Lighthouse today.