State lawmaker teams up with daughter to fight heroin use
MARINETTE COUNTY - Heroin has robbed her of her life. Cassie Nygren has spent over four years behind bars. Her struggles have fueled her father to make a change not only in her life, but perhaps in the life of someone you know.
"I had a good childhood," Cassie says.
Growing up, Cassie had two parents who loved her - but she adds she was sexually abused by a family member. She started drinking and smoking weed. She became pregnant at the age of 15. She gave that daughter up for adoption.
"After she was gone," Cassie remembers, "I ended up in a relationship where I was introduced to Oxycontin. I snorted about 20 milligrams and fell in love right away.
But she soon learned heroin was cheaper and easier to get.
"I still remember the day I first tried it. I was snowmobiling. I felt like I was on top of the world," Cassie says.
Soon she was at the bottom. She had been arrested for possession of heroin, and had only been out of jail for two days when she overdosed.
"I wanted to make sure I was good and high," she remembers.
Her mother found her, purple, on the bathroom floor.
"She says it still haunts her to this day."
Cassie argues becoming addicted to heroin can happen to anyone, even...
"...the state representative's daughter. Yeah, it happened to me."
"It's not what every parent had dreamed for their kid," says State Rep. John Nygren. He tells TODAY'S TMJ4's Lacey Crisp he knew there was a problem when she was a senior in high school.
"When your pretty, bright daughter with a brighter future doesn't graduate high school, that was pretty sad."
Nygren is fighting not only for his daughter, but for the state. Last year the number of heroin deaths in Wisconsin increased by 50%.
"It's not that I wasn't a strict parent," Rep. Nygren remembers. "The things you pay attention to are important."
John has proposed four bills he hopes will help those before they are in his daughter's position. Cassie supports her dad's proposals. She wants to go to school, and just be normal. Most of all, she wants to get to know the daughter she put up for adoption, who is now 8 years old.
"I want her to know I'm more than just a heroin junky addict."