Meth's impact on children probed
4/25/2006 by Wendy Koch
WASHINGTON — Alison Bruno was
13 when her mother, a drug addict, offered her
addicted from that day forward," recalled Bruno, now a
22-year-old Iowa mother of two girls. She smoked meth until
she found out she was pregnant at 15 and resumed after the
baby was born.
leave my baby with her dad, who was not an addict, for days
and weeks at a time. I felt like I needed meth to survive,"
said Bruno, a college student engaged to be married. She
said she has been clean since she got treatment at a
residential family program more than three years ago.
two other recovering meth addicts told their stories Tuesday
to the Senate Finance Committee, which is examining the
impact of meth on children.
poses unprecedented challenges to child-welfare agencies,"
testified Kevin Frank, regional administrator of child and
family services at the Montana Department of Public Health
and Human Services. "Over 65% of all foster care placements
in Montana are directly attributable to drug use, and of
those, meth is a primary factor 57% of the time."
said hundreds more children are living with grandparents or
other relatives because their meth-addicted parents are
incarcerated or have abandoned them.
Nationwide, 40% of child-welfare officials reported
increased foster-care placements because of meth in the
prior year, the National Association of Counties found last
million people over age 12 have tried meth, the 2004
National Survey on Drug Use and Health found.The number of
people abusing or dependent on meth more than doubled
between 2002 and 2004, from 164,000 people to 346,000,
testified Nancy Young of the National Center on Substance
Abuse and Child Welfare. She said pregnant women are showing
the fastest increase among those seeking treatment for meth
cheaply made in makeshift labs by extracting pseudoephedrine
from cold medicine.
frightening," said Sen. Max Baucus of Montana, senior
Democrat on the Senate panel, of meth's rapid rise. At a
recent meeting at a high school, he said, four students told
him their parents were users.
Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, the panel's chairman, said children
of meth users are often neglected because the parent's high
can last for hours, and a binge for days. He said others are
exposed to pornography and sexual abuse because meth can
cause a dramatic increase in a user's sex drive. "Our
nation's child-welfare system is already overburdened,"
and Aaronette Noble, a married couple in Missouri, said a
family treatment program turned their lives around by
helping them understand why they abused meth and enabling
them to work together. They had each used meth for years and
served time in prison. One of their daughters was born
addicted to meth.
was using meth, I felt dead most of the time," testified
Aaronette Noble. "My teeth and my hair were falling out, and
other people had custody of my (four) children. My husband
and I were homeless and sleeping in our car."
"tore our whole family apart," said Darren Noble, adding
that the family has changed since undergoing treatment and
no longer associates with meth users. He said he no longer
craves the drug.
tempted at times," Bruno said after the hearing. "I have to
prepare myself for those moments." She said she still goes
to meetings to aid her recovery. "I'm an addict. That's not