In 2013, after hospice officials discovered she was overprescribing narcotics, she was given a drug test. She failed and was promptly fired. She entered outpatient rehab and stayed clean for a while.
But after losing an appeal to regain her nursing license during Layla’s freshman year of high school, Horr lost her resolve. Distraught, she tracked down one of her sisters, who introduced her to heroin.
“I went straight to the needle,” Horr says.
At first, Horr left no trace of her drug use. But soon stray pills were tucked into sofa cushions, and syringes were rattling at the back of drawers. Then one day, Layla, who had grown suspicious, peeked through a porch window and watched with horror as her mother wrapped her arm with a rubber strap and pierced her skin with a needle.
As her mother surrendered to the drugs, Layla says their home filled up with filthy dishes, dog feces, and strangers who came over to shoot up.
“I’d be crying, begging her to stop,” Layla says, “but she was too out of it to care.” The addiction got so bad that Layla became too embarrassed to invite friends over.
For a while, the family survived on money sent by Layla’s stepfather, who worked out of state for months at a time. In his absence, her mother began a relationship with another drug user, and more and more of the money went to buy drugs.
In the summer of 2017, the family moved to a shabbier house. The girls spent many nights at home alone, sustaining themselves on cans of ravioli and frozen dinners. “Sometimes I’d have to go without eating,” Layla says, “so my sister could eat.”