Target 2: Rep. Nygren's Personal Push for Heroin Legislation - WBAY

Target 2: Rep. Nygren's Personal Push for Heroin Legislation

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Target2: HOPE Heroin Legislation
Left: Rep. John Nygren (R-Marinette) Right: Cassie Nygren

A Northeast Wisconsin lawmaker continues his push this weekend to stop the state's growing heroin problem.

Representative John Nygren (R-Marinette) has introduced a series of bills in the state legislature which he's calling The HOPE Agenda.

HOPE stands for Heroin Opiate Prevention and Education.

It's in part inspired by Nygren's 24-year-old daughter Cassie, who's sitting in the Marinette County Jail addicted to heroin.

Cassie Nygren's struggle is one of history relegating itself.

"Two days after I got out, I relapsed," she told Target 2 in a jailhouse interview. "I knew I was going to relapse. I cried in here before I left because I knew what I was going to do when I got out."

"I knew I was going to relapse. I cried in here before I left because I knew what I was going to do when I got out."

Cassie Nygren

It's hard to count the number of times Cassie has been in and out of prison and jail.

Her first 18 month prison sentence in 2010 was just the start.

Both Cassie and her dad recount the day she overdosed.

"I got a call from my ex-wife saying one of her friends just called," John said.

Cassie was lying on the kitchen floor unconscious.

"I remember all up until I put the needle in my arm," she said.

John arrived at the house.

"My daughter is basically dying on the kitchen floor, and the friends had all left."

No one can blame him for putting his emotion into legislation.

"I believe my dad wants me to succeed," Cassie said. "But I believe he wants to help others not go through what he did and what I did."

As part of The HOPE Agenda, Cassie's friends could have been a bigger help that night.

Part of the legislation, know as the good Samaritan, would grant partial immunity for anyone calling 911 or bringing an overdose patient to the emergency room.

"My daughter is basically dying on the kitchen floor, and the friends had all left."

John Nygren

HOPE Agenda Proposals

  • Provide limited immunity to people who call 911 for someone over-dosing
  • Make narcotics and drug repositories more accessible
  • Allow more first responders to carry the drug Narcan which counteracts opiate overdoses
  • Require ID to be shown when picking up opiate prescriptions

"We don't want to be soft on crime," John said. "If they're a dealer, if they're the one that provided the drug, there's going to be punishment. But we also want to save our young people."

That night Cassie believes it was Narcan that helped save her life, a drug that reverses the effects of an overdose.

The HOPE Agenda would expand the number of first responders in Wisconsin who can carry and administer it.

In parts of Marinette and Menominee counties, at least 85 doses of Narcan were used in 2012, according to the Bay Area Medical Center.

That's nearly double the 42 doses in 2011 and 47 doses in 2010.

Yet also increasing are the potential number of lives saved.

John says in the past couple years, the time he's been able to sleep best at night is when Cassie's locked up.

"That hurts," she said. "Because at the same time it makes me believe, 'Is this all I'm ever going to be you know? Am I here because nobody believes I can do it out there?'"

Next month Cassie will fight her latest probation violation.

The HOPE Agenda is expected to receive public hearings in January.

 

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