Methamphetamine Damage to Children

Methamphetamine is currently the number-one drug problem in many parts of the United States, according to a report issued today by the National Association of Counties (NACo). The drug, which stimulates the central nervous system, modifies the behavior of users and after lengthy use can change the way the brain functions. Psychological effects can include anger, panic, paranoia, hallucinations, repetitive behavior, confusion, jerky or flailing movements, irritability, insomnia, aggression, incessant talking, convulsions, aggressive acts, and suicide. “Now add a child to this mixture,” the NACo report suggests, and there is a risk of child abuse and neglect, a fact that’s being reflected in increasing numbers of children grossly neglected by addicted parents or exposed to the harmful effects of small-scale in-home labs that produce the drug. A survey of counties in 13 states showed marked increases in methamphetamine-caused out-of-home placements of children over the past three years, with many of the children removed from their homes already sick and in need of intensive medical and social services. County officials also reported that it is much harder to reunify meth-related families, with recidivism so great with meth users that reunification often does not last. “Children who are the victims of the methamphetamine epidemic are presenting many challenges to social service workers, foster parents, counselors, and adoption workers,” the report concludes. Copies of the NACo methamphetamine survey are available at jratner@naco.org.
Source: Center for Health & Healthcare in Schools, www.healthinschools.org. July 5 2005

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