Wisconsin State Rep. Opens Up About Daughter's Drug Addiction

By McCarton Ackerman 10/28/14

Representative John Nygren has been fighting substance abuse both in the state assembly and at home.

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Rep. John Nygren. Photo via

Wisconsin State Rep. John Nygren has been instrumental in drafting seven bills signed into law to help fight drug addiction throughout the state, but it’s a battle he’s also been fighting at home.

His 25-year-old daughter, Cassie, has been arrested three times for drug possession. After her most recent arrest last month for possession of narcotics and an illegal prescription, Nygren opted to not bail her out. Although someone else gave her the money to escape jail, she is now in a treatment program in the Green Bay area.

“One of the things you learn over the years is enabling the behavior is not helpful even though you want to as a parent, and you want to show them the love you have for them,” he said.

Nygren continues to advocate for drug treatment instead of prison for non-violent offenders, believing that it gives addicts a better chance of contributing to the community and is a better use of state resources.

"I see the dollars we spend on corrections and a lot of them spend on drug offenses and the recidivism rate on those crimes is almost 100 percent,” he said. “What we’re doing right now isn’t working, so we have to look for ways that can help not only our state and our finances, but to help the addicts become taxpayers instead of draining our resources.”

Cassie Nygren isn’t the only daughter of daughter of a prominent politician to struggle with addiction, though. Chiara de Blasio, the daughter of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, spoke about her abuse of weed and alcohol in a video released last December by his e-mail campaign. The now 20-year-old claimed that her drug abuse was triggered in part by clinical depression, but had been sober for several months after attending outpatient treatment.

"It made it easier, the more I drank and did drugs, to share some common ground with people that I wouldn’t have,” said Chiara in the video. “It didn’t start out as like a huge thing for me, but then it became a really huge thing for me. [Quitting drugs] was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. But it’s so worth it."

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.

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