The rise of methamphetamine addiction and abuse in the United States has been well documented in the media and medical journals. We read of its serious health implications and how it quickly devours a person’s private, professional and social life.
Cathleen Otero, M.S.W., M.P.A.; Sharon Boles, P.H.D.; Nancy K. Young, P.H.D.; and Kim Dennis, M.P.A., of the National Center on Substance Abuse and Child Welfare, authored a paper in 2006, on methamphetamine and the implications to child welfare workers.
According to the writer’s research, when comparing methamphetamine addiction to cocaine use,
Methamphetamine addiction begins earlier;
They need treatment at an earlier age;
Are more likely to use multiple drugs;
Have a higher frequency of use; feel less addicted than cocaine users;
Are less likely to use alcohol;
Are more likely to use meth throughout the day and space that use evenly throughout the day,
Cocaine users who tend to use at night;
Use fewer times than cocaine users,
Use the same amount of drug;
Spend less money on drug and are more likely to be female and Caucasian.
The paper clearly states the unexpected consequence of this rising addiction problem—children of addicted parents are often chronically neglected. The family and social situations for these children are inadequate, and sadly they are at greater risk of abuse.
The report also says something amazing—that meth parents are less likely to understand that there are risks to the unborn child when they are using than are parents who use cocaine or heroin. Methamphetamine use during pregnancy jeopardizes the development of the child’s brain and other organs.
Unlike cocaine and heroin, methamphetamine is manufactured in small labs, and the ingredients can be readily purchased legally. The labs are portable, so the drug can be created just about anywhere, in homes, hotel rooms or little back alley rooms.
Because it is less expensive to produce, a small investment yields large returns on the street. People take it and feel the euphoric rush and soon the drug becomes the center point of their lives.
The unexpected consequence, the devastating harm it can do to the unborn, and children under the control of the addicts, needs to be hammered home to those who seek the effects of the drug.
Meanwhile, children exposed to their parent’s methamphetamine addiction are at risk of developing a chronic cough, shortness of breath, chest pains and tightness, dizziness, lethargy, nausea, skin irritations, chemical burns and headaches.
In an effort to try to protect children, Drug Endangered Children (DEC) teams have been established in some locations, specifically for methamphetamine. Along with that, treatment programs for addicted parents have been ramped up, as the ever-growing numbers of addicts continues.
One of the most vital pieces to fighting a war is knowing about the enemy, and so professionals are learning more about the methamphetamine enemy. The good news is that the physiological damage created by methamphetamine addiction is reversible with long-term abstinence.
Treatment outcomes for methamphetamine addiction are similar to those for cocaine and heroin. And, treatment can lead not only to a restoration of health and well-being, but reunification of the family.
Meth is deadly and children must be taken out of harm’s way, but there is hope. Meth abuse and addiction is not just a problem for child welfare workers, it’s our problem. Children need protection from this epidemic, so we all fight the fight alongside the professionals.
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