Mothers And Meth

Meth-Addicted Mothers and Child Abuse

Video by Mary Newman

In the United States, methamphetamine is making a comeback.  Following the legalization of medical marijuana in California, Mexican cartels pivoted to the production of pure liquid meth, which is brought across the border and crystallized in conversion labs.  There is more meth on the streets than ever before, according to William Ruzzamenti, a 30-year Drug Enforcement Administration veteran and the Executive Director of the Central Valley California HIDTA (High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area).  It’s also cheaper than ever—the average cost of an ounce of methamphetamine dropped from nearly $968 in 2013 to around $250 in 2016.

“I think a lot of people associate meth with the 1990s, and this comeback has gone largely unnoticed in the shadow of the heroin and opioid epidemics,” Mary Newman, a journalist at the Investigative Reporting Program at UC Berkeley, told The Atlantic.

Newman’s short documentary, Motherhood and Meth, focuses on the drug’s frequently overlooked and arguably most vulnerable victims: children.  Although no scientific research has been conducted that directly correlates meth addiction to child abuse or neglect, many experts on the subject report a connection that Newman describes as “staggering.”  In her film, Newman interviews Dr. Philip Hyden, a child abuse specialist who has worked across the U.S. for more than 30 years.  Since 2010, Dr. Hyden has served as the medical director at the Valley Children’s Hospital in Fresno, the poorest urban ZIP code in the state.  Fresno experiences a high incidence of child abuse, and Dr. Hyden attributes one cause to the high rate of methamphetamine addiction in the region.  He estimates that meth use is involved in over 70% of the 1,000 abuse cases the clinic sees each year.

“We see children that have been beaten or abused in many scenarios where the perpetrator was on meth at the time,” Dr. Hyden says in the film.  “We see things that are hard to believe that happen to kids.”

This abuse sometimes begins during pregnancy; an estimated 19,000 meth users in the U.S. are pregnant women.  In home environments where meth is manufactured, children almost always test positive for methamphetamine—often at levels as high as addicted users, according to an expert in the film.

To get a firsthand look at the effects of methamphetamine addiction on mothers and their children, Newman’s documentary follows law enforcement officers, professionals at treatment facilities, and mothers affected by meth addiction who admit to having neglected their kids.  Newman met many of these women at Fresno’s weekly free needle exchange.  She interviewed more than twenty women—some of whom agreed to participate, only to disappear once a shoot date was scheduled—before she found the subjects featured in the film.

“Once I built up some essential trust with women willing to share their struggles of addiction, I would ask if meth ever caused them or someone in their life to become violent,” Newman said.  “Everyone responded with an emphatic ‘yes.’”  Newman added that she heard “harrowing” stories about domestic violence, child abuse, and a generational cycle of meth addiction.  Many of the addicts she spoke to were either the child of a meth addict themselves or had experienced abuse early in life.

“The power methamphetamine has on a person’s life was the most surprising part of [reporting] this story,” Newman said.  “I would speak with people struggling with addiction and they would have a certain self-awareness that their decisions were derailing their life, but they would also describe a feeling of complete helplessness.” Newman said that several people—both addicts and experts—described meth as “evil” due to the sheer power over the people that use it.

“These kids are the ultimate victims,” says a police officer in the film.  “They didn’t ask for this.”

4 thoughts on “Mothers And Meth”

  1. I had no idea that meth affected so many mothers or people for that matter. This video was a real eye opener. I just never would have thought 19,000 meth users in the U.S were pregnant women. The news has focused so much on the opioid epidemic that we forget so many children are being so negatively affected by meth addicted parents as well. Thanks for posting this .

    1. MotherOfAngels3, Thank You so much for your input!!!!
      Since you were so “surprised” by these numbers, I can’t let you leave without sharing some things you really need to be aware of.
      *Years ago my first son had just been born and I couldn’t stay away from the newborn nursery. Needless to say I got an education in the danger of a mother drinking while pregnant and it broke my heart. I was about to say that I thought it was fetal alcohol syndrome, but decided to look it up, it is fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs).
      *I an unsure if you are aware of Our Blog, My Brother’s Keeper, now I truly am sorry to have to show you this one from August 6, 2018: YOUR WORST NIGHTMARE AS A PARENT
      but as a Parent you need to be aware.
      *Before I tell you this one I just want to say that you as a Parent should always be prepared to video anything involving your Family(take it from me), if you see anything out-of-line, RECORD IT!!!!
      OK, Doctors and Nurses are more likely than other occupations to form a substance addiction.
      20% of all physicians and nurses will experience substance abuse issues, although this number could be much more than 50% higher.
      Substance Abuse is grossly unreported in medical community by an estimated 50% and most likely much higher.
      *Mothers abuse Children at over 10-12% higher rate than men.

      1. wow, this was a lot to take in! That being said I truly appreciation the length as well as the knowledge you’ve provided. A father doing that to his son and then making him suffer for hours is just plain out cruel and wicked. I didn’t think about doctors and nurses being likely to develop substance addiction. As a patient I just assumed they took mandatory drug tests and that would prevent the problem before it got started. Thanks for taking the time to share this message with me. I always feel more educated after talking with you. 🙂

      2. Mother Of Angels 3, Thank You for the kind words, and for caring so much for your Children, and all Children.
        I don’t mind saying that any number or stat that is posted here, or comes out of my mouth is as close to the real numbers as anyone can get, and can be backed with reference.
        Just about 4 years ago, after opening as a one-page gift to Google and it’s users, I happened to cross paths with Mr. 24/7, aka Superman, the Man who is my Role Model/ Mentor, who selflessly invested probably at least a million in my education, considering hours day or night he has been there for me, and the mountains of resources.
        But the fact that HE CARED was priceless.
        I’ve had to smile every time I see your name, people probably thought that I believed my Boys were Angels, because I was and have always been behind them 100%. School found out that a note telling me that my boys were in trouble, didn’t necessarily mean that they were in trouble.
        But now I might consider an aka for when I get off work, like during Quality Time, something like “Dad of Good, Real Men”….
        They were in diapers, and the next thing I know is that I have a Great GrandDaughter a year and 10 days old
        You are always welcome, and always have your place here.
        Guard those Angels 24/7, put apps on their phones and computers, and get a license to carry.

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