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Users Not the Only Losers
by Lorene Bartos, Extension Educator
This article appears in the July 2005 NEBLINE Newsletter
Meth destroys not only those who use it, but also the people around them.
Producers and users of methamphetamine many times become so preoccupied with the drug that they neglect their family and children. Impacts on families can include:
- Psychological impact
- Financial costs
- Safety concerns
- Rise in domestic disputes and/or domestic violence
- Breaks families apart
Children of users often lack necessities such as food, water, shelter and proper medical care. They are at higher risk of:
- Physical, sexual and emotional abuse
- Delayed speech and language skills
- Hyperactivity and attention disorders
- Violent behavior
- Lack of boundaries/easy attachment to strangers
- Other developmental problems
- Increased risk for substance abuse in later life
Meth use during pregnancy or while breast feeding can cause major problems for babies. Levels of meth present in breast milk are higher than levels in blood. Infants are at higher risk of:
- Premature birth
- Birth defects (six times more)
- Growth retardation
- Withdrawal symptoms, including abnormal sleep patterns, high pitched cry, poor feeding
- Sensitivity to stimuli including human touch and regular light
- Coordination problems
Nearly 8% of Nebraska's budget -- over $291 million in 1998 -- is spent on substance abuse** related costs. This does not include local and federal costs. State programs affected include justice, education, health, child/family assistance, mental health/developmental disabilities, public safety and state workforce.
Federal sentences for meth-related drug convictions in Nebraska are five times the national average. In 2002, there were almost 12,000 arrests for drug abuse violations.
Meth addicts commit several crimes each year to support their habit. These crimes range from check forgery, credit card fraud, and identity theft to shoplifting, stealing and assault.
**This includes all drugs, not just meth.
- "Methamphetamine – One of Rural Nebraska's Greatest Challenges" by UNL Extension Educators Sue Brown and Marilyn Fox
- "Life or Meth: What's It Cost?" Midwest HIDTA
- "Methamphetamine: Children at Risk" developed by the Kansas Methamphetamine Prevention Project
- U.S. Department of Justice
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Photo Credit - USDA by Ken Hammond