Cassie’s story of addiction and recovery winds through some dark places, ones that changed everything about her. But that’s not her life today.
“I’m Cassie. I am a wife and a grandmother. I am also a niece of a hundred-year-old aunt and a sister to my brother,” But for Cassie, who grew up in the District, life wasn’t always this way. Cassie’s story of addiction and recovery winds through some dark places, ones that changed everything about her.
It started innocently enough. Good parents that were in her life, and siblings that were important to her. “A church life,” as Cassie says. But not everything was innocent.
“I took my last drink of methadone in September 1995,” she says. “Have not had the desire or the need to take a mood-altering drug since then. I’m in long-term recovery, 25 years now and it’s great.”
Cassie drank in high school, then started using more powerful substances. “We started to use this heroin, and we would toot it and think it was real cool,” Cassie says. “And it was real cool for a while. But heroin is not the kind of drug that will be real cool for a long period of time.”
The substance use became more regular, and Cassie needed to find ways to support her addiction. “I stole from my mama. Anyway I could, I lied or cheated or whatever I needed to do to get the drugs,” she says. She spent 20 years of her life this way.
With pain in her eyes, Cassie recounts where her drug use led her. “I wasn’t the child that they knew. Everything had changed about me. My look, my talk, my walk,” she says. “I didn’t care because I was living for drugs. That was my love, not my mother, not my father, not my brother, not my aunt. Not anybody. The love affair became drugs, the heroin.”
And perhaps one of the most painful moments in this phase of her life, Cassie recounts how her brother said to her one day, “I don’t know you as my sister anymore.”
But someone in Cassie’s life broke through, and gave her hope. A friend who was in a 12-step program and using medication to treat opioid use disorder said to her, “Why aren’t you trying it?”
Something clicked, and Cassie did try. She stayed on methadone for eight years and it helped her to recovery. “I took my last drink of methadone in September 1995,” she says. “Have not had the desire or the need to take a mood-altering drug since then. I’m in long-term recovery, 25 years now and it’s great.”
Her brother, the one who couldn’t recognize her when she was using, said to Cassie, “I am so glad to have my sister back.”
The gifts of recovery are plentiful. The journey to recovery is never easy, but when you get there, Cassie states simply, “It feels good.”
“When you are in the grips of addiction, you are so isolated,” Cassie says. “That’s not my life today. You know, I have people in my life. It’s a good life. I’m married to a wonderful man, one of the good guys. He is also in recovery. We travel together. We worship together. It’s him and I. It’s my partner, and it feels good.”
Offering her experience as an inspiration to others, Cassie says, “I did it. I shot dope, smoked dope, and everything else. And I’m here to tell you that you can do it if you want to. You don’t have to die like this. You can live.”