What happens when you lose both parents to drug addiction


Courtesy/Lexi Guillemette

Lexi Guillemette ‘24 hopes her story will raise awareness on the Hilltop

Flannery Moore, Culture Editor

 Lexi Guillemette, a sophomore communications major, gave a True Life talk titled “Losing Both Parents to Drug Addiction.” True Life talks, held by the Intercultural Center, are described as “a series of informal discussions about life in diverse cultures” and invite the general campus community to attend. 

Guillemette, who initially got involved in the Multicultural Center through a friend, said that she was hanging out in Wayne Currie’s office one day, and “He looked at me and said, ‘you have an interesting life – do you want to do a True Life talk?’” Guillemette agreed and later agreed to share an overview of her talk with the Crier. 

She began her story by sharing that her mom died when she was a baby of a heroin overdose, adding that her mom also had mental health struggles. Her dad’s addiction “spiraled” after her mom’s death. She lived with her dad and grandmother until she was five years old, and then her dad moved to Arizona; she continued to live with her grandmother in New Hampshire.

Her dad moved back to New Hampshire when Guillemette was in high school and spent a year and a half in rehab. During this time, she spoke on the phone with him once a week but didn’t see him in person. When he got out of rehab, he was doing “really really well, better than after past rehabs.” At this point Guillemette had started to build a relationship with her dad, saying that by this point she had her license and “would go over to his apartment a lot.”

Her dad passed away on September 21, 2021, from a heroin overdose. Guillemette found out about his passing from Fr. Mathias after her grandmother came to campus and asked Fr. Mathias to pull Guillemette from class and give her the news. She added that she knew Fr. Mathias already since she had been attending Good Grief, a group for students who have lost loved ones, since the last semester. 

Guillemette went on to describe how most of the responsibilities following his death fell to her as the only daughter, saying it was a “very invasive thing to go through all his personal stuff” in his apartment after he died. She also had to decide between cremation or burial, write an obituary, and a variety of other logistical decisions. She described her mom’s family as being “super supportive” in the week after her dad’s passing, saying that they drove back to New Hampshire to help her with planning and logistics.  

A week after her dad’s passing, the day after calling hours, Guillemette moved back on campus. The experience was extremely difficult, and Guillemette described “bad brain fog” and a sense of being on “autopilot in every conversation.” 

She said that when it came to academic accommodations during the difficult time, most of her professors were “extremely helpful.” She said that she had meetings with each of them to determine new academic expectations. “Funny enough,” said Guillemette, “my first class coming back on campus was a psychology of drug addiction class.” 

The last slide on the PowerPoint presentation for the True Life talk simply stated “give it a reason.” Guillemette said with a smile that she stole the phrase from the TV show Euphoria, but that it resonated deeply with her when she heard it. 

She said that “it all happens for a reason” is frustrating to hear but that “what people mean when they say that is that you need to give it a reason. So what I am going to do as a person coming out of this situation is to make it into something else.” Sharing her story first in a True Life talk and then with the Crier was Guillemette’s first step towards raising awareness of addiction on the Saint Anselm College campus.