Inmate tells of spiral into addiction

College-educated woman says depression major factor

By Melanie Yingst and Melody Vallieu -

Melody Vallieu | AIM Media Midwest Inmate “Cassie” speaks to reporters at the Miami County Incarceration Facility in October.

Melody Vallieu | AIM Media Midwest Inmate “Cassie” speaks to reporters at the Miami County Incarceration Facility in October.

MIAMI COUNTY — With a bachelor’s degree in logistics and a lucrative career as a civil servant at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, 34-year-old “Cassie” seemed to have it all going for her.

But, even for someone with so much going right in her life, she found drugs helped numb what was wrong.

The Clark County native, going by an alias for this article, recently recounted her life’s path and shared how she landed at the Miami County Incarceration Facility for the last five months.

Bright and bubbly, Cassie spoke at length about her career, clearly proud of her hard work as a program manager documenting nuclear and aircraft logistics for the military.

“I had reached my goals. This was the best I could do with my career in this area,” said Cassie, from an interview room in the Incarceration Facility.

Yet, even with her high-end salary and security clearance, her mental and physical battle with opiates took hold of her life. Now with a fifth-degree felony possession of fentanyl looming over her, Cassie is waiting to see if she’s eligible for treatment in lieu of conviction in Miami County Common Pleas Court. If successful, she could have the felony conviction waived and off her record. If unsuccessful, that single felony conviction could prove to be a life long hurdle when applying for jobs and eliminate her chance to work in her field ever again.

Growing up, Cassie shared how she was an honor roll student that played on her high school soccer team. She rattled off the numerous awards she won in equestrian and Western-style horsemanship as a teen. She admits she dabbled in cocaine off and on at high school parties before concentrating on her career path, first in graphic arts and later earned an associate’s degree in logistics and supply chain management. She applied as a co-op student through The Ohio State University to work at the WPAFB and was one of only a handful of students offered a position at the base. She then was able to complete her bachelor’s degree through Park University on the base.

Cassie shared how once her career checklist was complete, she concentrated on getting married to an older, long-time boyfriend and helped raise his children. Juggling work, school and family, getting kids to soccer practice and dinner on the table — while her spouse didn’t keep steady work — led to resentment and depression.

Cassie, tears streaming down her cheeks, told of how the depression spiraled out of control with the loss of her young son Caleb, which led to her drinking and eventually ended her marriage.

“I was unhappy. I started drinking a lot. My ex-husband and I would have people over and we’d drink and other people did drugs, but I didn’t. At one point I stopped drinking, but he didn’t. He kept partying, staying out in the bars. When we split up, I started drinking again. I basically had my ‘college partying days’ after I got divorced,” she said.

Cassie said following her divorce, she met another man who was “into pills.” Prescription pills soon led to her then drug of choice called “Roxys” or roxicodone, a brand of oxycodone.

One day, as she and her best friend were out of their favorite pills, it was then she was introduced to heroin. It wasn’t a planned leap into the drug world, just a little to take the edge off.

“She told me if I did this much heroin it would be the same as if I did so many Roxys — so I did. That was the first time I did heroin. I snorted it. It didn’t really do much to me. It kept me ‘even.’ I didn’t nod out or feel high. I just felt OK.”

Yet, in spite of her drug use, Cassie continued to work with federal security clearance, keeping her addiction a secret from her co-workers. Cassie said the heroin, which was also cheaper than other drugs, seemed to drop off in its “high,” causing her to begin to shoot up rather than snort the drugs to get a “better fix.”

“I just thought I was Superman,” she said of juggling her work life and new addiction.

Still battling depression and now a full-fledged addict, Cassie began working from home and her drop in productivity began to alert her supervisors. She said she passed the addiction off as depression — noting there were days she simply couldn’t get out of bed.

In the fall of 2016, Cassie was pulled over for OVI on her way to work, testing positive for heroin — her first of several scrapes with the law to come. She eventually lost her job from attendance issues, and things went from bad to worse, she said. She also had attempted suicide several times by now, simply saying “I had nothing left.”

Cassie said a close friend, whose father was a narcotics law enforcement officer, eventually staged an intervention, hoping to get her back on track. Entering rehab, Cassie said she was clean for three months, but came out of rehab having lost her home, her car, and her mother’s trust, which led her back to old habits — heroin.

Her life was on a downward spiral once again.

Now homeless, Cassie began staying at drug houses with various drug users in Springfield. Her family — including a brother that also is a former addict and another that is a successful school principal — reached out to her again, having found Troy’s Hope House. Cassie entered the residential treatment detox center last spring.

After five or six days of getting clean, Cassie shared how one of the residents, there only by court order, told her she could buy drugs at the Imperial Court apartment complex. Cassie said she sneaked out of the home, walked through Troy and found the drug dealer. It was there she bought fentanyl, her drug of choice, and got high before returning to the Hope House.

“I loved it. I never liked cocaine or meth. Fentanyl was my favorite,” said Cassie, who then left the Hope House without completing the program.

Cassie soon after was arrested at the Motel 6 in Troy on May 24 of this year. She had stayed at the hotel the night before with another person and lost her phone, using the motel’s phone to call people for a ride. Inside a pack of cigarettes, Cassie had stashed a plastic bag with 10 capsules of fentanyl and hidden a syringe inside a book. After a court appearance, Cassie was later released and then arrested on June 6 for misdemeanor theft, open container and criminal tools at the Troy Kroger. Cassie claimed she was falsely accused in the theft, more upset over that charge than the drug charges weeks earlier. The open container and criminal tool charges were dismissed, but she was sentenced to serve seven months in jail for the theft charge.

Incarcerated since June with an out date of December, Cassie recently appeared in Miami County Common Pleas Court seeking treatment in lieu of conviction. To date, her public defender and the courts were in the process of seeking evaluation for a drug treatment program in Clark County. The public defender’s office have said they would try to release her from her theft conviction from Municipal Court to enter into a treatment program through McKinley Hall, an outpatient treatment and counseling service provider in Springfield.

Cassie admits that her time in the Incarceration Facility has given her time to reflect and plan to move forward in a different direction.

“Jail has given me some mental time — and sober time. With the loss of my son, my addiction came from depression, and not being happy and just not wanting to be alive.

“I need to deal with my problems and stay away from temptation to use again,” said Cassie, who remained incarcerated as of press time.

Cassie said once she’s released she plans to move in with her mother and focus on her recovery and to seek counseling for the myriad of trials and tribulations she’s experience in her life — from sexual abuse as a child at the hand of a family member to the profound pain she feels from the loss of her son. Seeking a fresh start, she hopes to move her probation to her new home and begin to rebuild her life, one day at a time.

“I owe it to myself to try … I have strong will power and if I put my mind to it …” she said. “Not every drug addict is the same. With the support of family, I want it now. I have to go back to God.”

Melody Vallieu | AIM Media Midwest Inmate “Cassie” speaks to reporters at the Miami County Incarceration Facility in October. Vallieu | AIM Media Midwest Inmate “Cassie” speaks to reporters at the Miami County Incarceration Facility in October.
College-educated woman says depression major factor

By Melanie Yingst and Melody Vallieu