Meth Addiction – Saving Kids by Saving Moms

In Utah, 58% percent of women who sought out drug treatment had children living with them at home.

Women of childbearing age are the biggest users of meth, and they don’t fit in well with our stereotypical perception of the typical meth addict. Moms are on meth, and unless we reduce the scale of this meth epidemic, the repercussions in a generation to come, when these meth-mom raised kids grow up, will be tragic.

Getting mothers into treatment saves everyone money. The cost to jail a meth using woman in Utah is $25 700 and if that woman has kids that need to be placed into foster care, the cost increases by $33 000, per year, per child.

In contrast, the cost to treat a meth using mom is $3500 per year, and in most cases, kids can safely remain in the home with their moms. Treatment beats incarceration hands down. It benefits society, it helps women beat terrible addictions, and it saves kids from an institutional upbringing.

Getting a meth using women into treatment is always the right thing to do.

Wondering if a woman you know is struggling with meth?

Be concerned if you witness symptoms of meth abuse, such as:

  • Hyperactivity
  • Erratic sleep patterns
  • Irritability
  • Isolation from friends and family
  • Mood changes (includes hostility, abusive behavior, depression)
  • Loss of appetite and weight loss
  • Lack of interest in normal activities
  • Poor judgment

Or take the warning signs quiz on meth addiction, at End Meth Now

In Utah, 58% percent of women who sought out drug treatment had children living with them at home.

Women of childbearing age are the biggest users of meth, and they don’t fit in well with our stereotypical perception of the typical meth addict. Moms are on meth, and unless we reduce the scale of this meth epidemic, the repercussions in a generation to come, when these meth-mom raised kids grow up, will be tragic.

Getting mothers into treatment saves everyone money. The cost to jail a meth using woman in Utah is $25 700 and if that woman has kids that need to be placed into foster care, the cost increases by $33 000, per year, per child.

In contrast, the cost to treat a meth using mom is $3500 per year, and in most cases, kids can safely remain in the home with their moms. Treatment beats incarceration hands down. It benefits society, it helps women beat terrible addictions, and it saves kids from an institutional upbringing.

Getting a meth using women into treatment is always the right thing to do.

Wondering if a woman you know is struggling with meth?

Be concerned if you witness symptoms of meth abuse, such as:

  • Hyperactivity
  • Erratic sleep patterns
  • Irritability
  • Isolation from friends and family
  • Mood changes (includes hostility, abusive behavior, depression)
  • Loss of appetite and weight loss
  • Lack of interest in normal activities
  • Poor judgment

Or take the warning signs quiz on meth addiction, at End Meth Now

Alcohol – America’s leading cause of mental retardation

Tens of thousands of children are born each year in America alone with either fetal alcohol syndrome of fetal alcohol effects, and these children will suffer physical, emotional and developmental problems for life. Completely preventable and tragic, fetal alcohol syndrome is the leading cause of mental retardation in America today.

The term fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) is an umbrella term describing the facial and physical deformities, the cerebral deficits and the emotional and behavioral legacy of children born to women who drank during pregnancy. A less severe syndrome know as fetal alcohol effects (FAE), affects many thousands more children each year; and because at birth the characteristic facial deformities are not always recognizable, experts estimate that the prevalence rate of FAS and FAE is actually far greater then reported. Between 4000 and 12000 children are born each year with FAS, and FAE effects tens of thousands more.

The disorder plagues the development and potential of children for life, and although the facial characteristics of the disorder may become reduced in severity after puberty, the emotional, cognitive and behavioral deficits actually become more pronounced with adulthood. There is no uniform set of symptoms associated with the disorder, but very often FAS will cause characteristic facial structure deformities, including a smaller than normal head and a flattened mid face, cognitive and developmental delays or retardation and life long behavioral and emotional adaptation issues. Un coordination, impulsivity and speech and hearing impairments also characterize symptoms of the disorder.

A late 90’s study of alcohol consumption during pregnancy reports that almost 20% of women continue to drink some amount of alcohol during pregnancy, heedless of warnings to the contrary; and women with lower incomes and with less prenatal care are far more likely to drink heavily while pregnant.

The Surgeon General recommends complete abstainment from alcohol during pregnancy, as no one is sure at what level alcohol consumption may be safe. If pregnant women drink very heavily, especially during the last trimester, newborn infants may endure dangerous alcohol withdrawal symptoms such as tremens, abnormal muscular activity, an inability to sleep and extreme and inconsolable crying.

The societal economic costs of FAS and FAE run into the billions each year, but the individual and life long costs are far more tragic than any increased bill to the State. And all of this devastation is completely and 100% preventable. If a woman does not drink during pregnancy, there is no possibility of FAS or FAE.

What to do?

While all involved despair over the tragedy of FAS, there is little consensus about what proactive steps should be taken to reduce the incidence rate. Some States aim to protect unborn children by enforcing treatment on pregnant women who exhibit signs of substance abuse and others argue that by essentially criminalizing the issue, you deter far more women from treatment than you help.

Another problem is that alcoholic women wishing to curtail their drinking during pregnancy often have a hard time finding a treatment facility capable of admitting a pregnant woman, and also offering needed prenatal care. Every dollar spent towards substance abuse prevention and treatment yields a massive dividend in societal savings, and surely this is also the case with FAS.

 If FAS cost’s billions in increased health care, education and eventual incarceration costs each year, perhaps we should spend bit more now in the hopes of reducing the FAS societal bill down the road. More spent on education and prenatal outreach, more spent on subsidized treatment beds for pregnant women wanting to change, and more spent on awareness campaigns…there will always be some who ignore all the warnings and attempts to help, but every person saved would be a huge and celebratory victory.

Tens of thousands of children are born each year in America alone with either fetal alcohol syndrome of fetal alcohol effects, and these children will suffer physical, emotional and developmental problems for life. Completely preventable and tragic, fetal alcohol syndrome is the leading cause of mental retardation in America today.

The term fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) is an umbrella term describing the facial and physical deformities, the cerebral deficits and the emotional and behavioral legacy of children born to women who drank during pregnancy. A less severe syndrome know as fetal alcohol effects (FAE), affects many thousands more children each year; and because at birth the characteristic facial deformities are not always recognizable, experts estimate that the prevalence rate of FAS and FAE is actually far greater then reported. Between 4000 and 12000 children are born each year with FAS, and FAE effects tens of thousands more.

The disorder plagues the development and potential of children for life, and although the facial characteristics of the disorder may become reduced in severity after puberty, the emotional, cognitive and behavioral deficits actually become more pronounced with adulthood. There is no uniform set of symptoms associated with the disorder, but very often FAS will cause characteristic facial structure deformities, including a smaller than normal head and a flattened mid face, cognitive and developmental delays or retardation and life long behavioral and emotional adaptation issues. Un coordination, impulsivity and speech and hearing impairments also characterize symptoms of the disorder.

A late 90’s study of alcohol consumption during pregnancy reports that almost 20% of women continue to drink some amount of alcohol during pregnancy, heedless of warnings to the contrary; and women with lower incomes and with less prenatal care are far more likely to drink heavily while pregnant.

The Surgeon General recommends complete abstainment from alcohol during pregnancy, as no one is sure at what level alcohol consumption may be safe. If pregnant women drink very heavily, especially during the last trimester, newborn infants may endure dangerous alcohol withdrawal symptoms such as tremens, abnormal muscular activity, an inability to sleep and extreme and inconsolable crying.

The societal economic costs of FAS and FAE run into the billions each year, but the individual and life long costs are far more tragic than any increased bill to the State. And all of this devastation is completely and 100% preventable. If a woman does not drink during pregnancy, there is no possibility of FAS or FAE.

What to do?

While all involved despair over the tragedy of FAS, there is little consensus about what proactive steps should be taken to reduce the incidence rate. Some States aim to protect unborn children by enforcing treatment on pregnant women who exhibit signs of substance abuse and others argue that by essentially criminalizing the issue, you deter far more women from treatment than you help.

Another problem is that alcoholic women wishing to curtail their drinking during pregnancy often have a hard time finding a treatment facility capable of admitting a pregnant woman, and also offering needed prenatal care. Every dollar spent towards substance abuse prevention and treatment yields a massive dividend in societal savings, and surely this is also the case with FAS.

 If FAS cost’s billions in increased health care, education and eventual incarceration costs each year, perhaps we should spend bit more now in the hopes of reducing the FAS societal bill down the road. More spent on education and prenatal outreach, more spent on subsidized treatment beds for pregnant women wanting to change, and more spent on awareness campaigns…there will always be some who ignore all the warnings and attempts to help, but every person saved would be a huge and celebratory victory.

3 Things That Kids With Addicted Parents NEED to Know

Kids deserve to know the truth about addiction in the family, and they suffer with feelings of guilt and shame if their concerns and fears are never appropriately addressed.

It’s too bad that children get drawn into the whirlwind of family substance abuse, but when one or more parents is abusing drugs or alcohol, the effects on kids in the home can be profound, detrimental and lasting. Kids, even young kids, know something is wrong, and there is no way to shelter them from the realities of the household, and no way to spare them from the pain of the truth.

Children know there’s a problem, but younger children especially very likely don’t understand what it is, why it’s happening, or whose fault it is. The greatest risk is that children will internalize the pain of the abuse behaviors, and believe that they are somehow at fault for the behaviors of abusing parents. Children may accept any story given, but children will only truly believe and benefit from the truth, and by acknowledging the existence of a problem, and by letting kids know that it’s not their fault, they have a far greater chance of growing up happy, healthy and less likely to develop substance abuse problems of their own as they age through their teens.

The National Center on Substance Abuse and Child Welfare recommends telling children:

  1. That addiction is a disease, and that their abusing parent is sick and the witnessed and sometimes scary behaviors are all a part of the disease.
  2. That lots of kids just like them also have a parent or even two parents who also suffer from the same disease.
  3. That it’s OK to talk about the problem, and there is no shame in discussing feelings with any trusted figure.

Giving kids truthful and accurate information about addiction in the family empowers them, relieves negative feelings of shame, responsibility and guilt; and removes some very adult feelings and burdens from narrow shoulders not meant to carry such weight. It’s too bad that any kid needs to suffer the pains of family addiction, but millions of kids live this reality everyday, and the best way to help them thrive is to bring the problem out of the closet, treat their concerns and fears as genuine and valid, and make sure that they understand that they are never at fault for anything that mom or dad does or says while using and abusing drugs or alcohol.

I feel such great shame at what I subjected my family, and particularly my kids to during my years of use and addiction, and although I was never a violent drunk, and never "took it out on the kids" I know they suffered from my neglect and from my sometimes erratic and confusing behaviors. I can’t take it back, but I can do the best I can for them now that I’m sober. Kids are always reason enough to get sober…and when you consider that about half of all alcoholics grew up in alcoholic homes, that’s surely motivation enough to get needed help and treatment.

Kids deserve to know the truth about addiction in the family, and they suffer with feelings of guilt and shame if their concerns and fears are never appropriately addressed.

It’s too bad that children get drawn into the whirlwind of family substance abuse, but when one or more parents is abusing drugs or alcohol, the effects on kids in the home can be profound, detrimental and lasting. Kids, even young kids, know something is wrong, and there is no way to shelter them from the realities of the household, and no way to spare them from the pain of the truth.

Children know there’s a problem, but younger children especially very likely don’t understand what it is, why it’s happening, or whose fault it is. The greatest risk is that children will internalize the pain of the abuse behaviors, and believe that they are somehow at fault for the behaviors of abusing parents. Children may accept any story given, but children will only truly believe and benefit from the truth, and by acknowledging the existence of a problem, and by letting kids know that it’s not their fault, they have a far greater chance of growing up happy, healthy and less likely to develop substance abuse problems of their own as they age through their teens.

The National Center on Substance Abuse and Child Welfare recommends telling children:

  1. That addiction is a disease, and that their abusing parent is sick and the witnessed and sometimes scary behaviors are all a part of the disease.
  2. That lots of kids just like them also have a parent or even two parents who also suffer from the same disease.
  3. That it’s OK to talk about the problem, and there is no shame in discussing feelings with any trusted figure.

Giving kids truthful and accurate information about addiction in the family empowers them, relieves negative feelings of shame, responsibility and guilt; and removes some very adult feelings and burdens from narrow shoulders not meant to carry such weight. It’s too bad that any kid needs to suffer the pains of family addiction, but millions of kids live this reality everyday, and the best way to help them thrive is to bring the problem out of the closet, treat their concerns and fears as genuine and valid, and make sure that they understand that they are never at fault for anything that mom or dad does or says while using and abusing drugs or alcohol.

I feel such great shame at what I subjected my family, and particularly my kids to during my years of use and addiction, and although I was never a violent drunk, and never "took it out on the kids" I know they suffered from my neglect and from my sometimes erratic and confusing behaviors. I can’t take it back, but I can do the best I can for them now that I’m sober. Kids are always reason enough to get sober…and when you consider that about half of all alcoholics grew up in alcoholic homes, that’s surely motivation enough to get needed help and treatment.