Former heroin user and the police officer who arrested her fight the opiate epidemic together

MASON, Ohio -- Police Sgt. Steve Temple tends to deal with people at their worst.

When he met Samantha Frashier in 2013, she was high on heroin and fleeing into the woods after leading Temple and other officers on a chase. He and his partners waded through a waist-high creek to arrest her and take her to the Warren County Jail.

It wasn’t a proud moment for her, Frashier would later write in an email to Temple. But it did change her life. In the years since her arrest, Frashier has gotten clean, given birth to twin boys and petitioned lawmakers -- including President Obama, who penned a personal response to her letter in August 2016 -- to focus on passing legislation that could help other people who struggle with heroin addiction.

And it all came from that night.

"He was very kind and professional," Frashier later wrote to the Mason Police Department. "I just really wanted to thank him. He was exactly where he was supposed to be, and it saved my life."

Temple and Frashier, who have continued to speak since 2013, appeared with other community leaders Wednesday night at Mason High School to discuss the opiate epidemic and its effect on high school students and their families.

"People need to realize that this is a really, really huge, very important thing that is happening in our society," Mason High junior Jessica Roncalli-McCoard said.

For Frashier, addiction started with low self-esteem and a desire for relief from her negative emotions.

"When you get that feeling for the first time where you feel like you don't have to deal with stuff...you kind of keep taking that pill to make things a little bit more numb," she said.

Opiates provided more instant gratification than alcohol or marijuana had, she said, and instantly made her worries and fears seem irrelevant. She continued to use -- at one point sleeping in the park behind Mason High, where she'd once gone to school -- until her arrest and court-ordered rehab.

 

To students and families who attended the panel Wednesday night, she said communication was key to help steer children away from drug use. Even if conversations about addiction are awkward, knowledge about family history and the reality of drug abuse are powerful tools.

To people struggling with drug abuse, she stressed the importance of hope and the always-extant possibility for redemption.

"There is hope! I think that’s the biggest thing," she said. "There are so many addicts out there who just think, ‘There is no hope, I can’t get clean and I can’t do it,' but there is hope. You can get clean, and you can get to the other side. And the other side is way better."

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