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Thu, Oct. 17

Meth awareness week sheds light on abuse

The Daily Courier

Governor Janet Napolitano issued a decree declaring Nov. 26 through Nov. 30 as Methamphetamine Awareness Week.

"Methamphetamine abuse shatters families and threatens our communities," Napolitano said. "It is a powerfully addictive drug and abusers can transform homes into places of danger and despair by neglecting or endangering the lives of their children, spouses and other loved ones."

She stressed that it takes an entire community to solve the meth problem and that the governor's office is working with coalitions and all communities in the state to defeat meth and ensure a safe, healthy and prosperous future for children.

"I continue to be encouraged and excited about the way concerned citizens, organizations, people in recovery and leaders throughout Yavapai County have come together to proactively address substance abuse, including methamphetamine use," commented Sheila Polk, Yavapai County attorney. "I am especially impressed with everyone's commitment to the goals of MATForce, the vision, and the ability to get things done. The desire to build stronger, healthier and safer communities has united us and I believe that, together, we are starting to make a difference."

Children are often the secondary victims of meth. When parents use drugs, they are three times more likely to abuse their children and four times more likely to neglect those children.

According to Child Protective Services' statistics, of the 1,112 reports it received in the last 12 months, 60 percent reported neglect, 32 percent reported physical abuse, 6 percent sexual abuse and 2 percent emotional abuse.

"We also have reports of substance-exposed newborns, which hospital staff can look and then test for," said Kathy McLaughlin director of Yavapai Family Advocacy Center. "The physical consequences of using meth during pregnancy are premature birth, low birthrate and a host of medical problems."

Other statistics reveal that teenagers believe it is not that harmful to use meth - it can help them lose weight, deal with boredom, escape problems and give them an energy boost.

"One in 25 teens have used meth, one in six young adults (19-29) have used meth and 37 percent of teens and 53 percent of adults say meth is easy to get," said McLaughlin.

She said that a major concern currently is a new tide of child endangerment.

"When a child is being raised in a house with parents who are moody, irritable, depressed and paranoid, that poses an unpredictable danger from those parents," McLaughlin said. "In many cases, these children end up being raised by grandparents, who have limited incomes and resources, and are severely burdened."

However, the picture is not entirely grim for Yavapai County.

"The mom and pop labs are almost gone so there are less children being found in meth labs," she said. "Two years ago they were all over. Now meth is provided by super-labs; I don't know where those are."

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