Pubdate: Sat, 17 Jul 2004
Source: Grand Forks Herald (ND)
Copyright: 2004 Grand Forks Herald
Author: Rona K. Johnson
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine)


Two Meth Users Say Habit Especially Hard On Their Children

Delphine and Jim Baker did whatever they had to do to make people
think they were a normal family. But while their children, ages 4, 6
and 8, were upstairs watching television, they were downstairs in the
basement behind a locked door using methamphetamine. "In our mind, at
the time, we wanted to do this, but we wanted to seem like responsible
people," said Delphine. "We did whatever we had to do to look normal
to other people and still use the drug." They have a lot in common
with another woman who wished to remain anonymous. We'll call her
Jane. "My husband and I used to go into the basement and use, and we'd
say to the kids, 'Just a minute, we'll be right up,'" said Jane, who
started using meth when her son was 5 and her daughter was 2. Both
families live in western North Dakota and are in the process of
recovering from an addiction that shook their families to the core.
The 'dating' period Delphine said she started using meth because she
was depressed after losing a baby who lived only nine days. She was
overweight and didn't feel good about herself, she said. "You didn't
have the appetite anymore.

It was like 'Hey, I don't even care to eat, and I have all this
energy,'" she said. "That was when I was still in the dating process
(the time when users are first introduced to the drug)." Jane started
using marijuana and alcohol when she was a teenager, and her husband
introduced her to meth. "I've done every drug there is to do except
heroin, but I've never had one that's taken hold of me like that," she
said. Jane said the drug can be especially appealing to women because
it gives them confidence and enough energy to be a super mom. "The
confidence you get from meth is unbelievable. I would get up and sing
in front of people, and I'm not one to do that type of thing," she
said. But once the dating period is over, the paranoia, guilt,
anxiety, irritability, insomnia and tremors take over. "Put a couple
of years under your belt, and you're like a scared raccoon in the
corner peeking out the window wondering 'Who's here? Who's here?'"
Jane said. How are the kids? It wasn't until they were sober and
thinking clearly that Delphine and Jane realized how much their drug
abuse had affected their children. "It took a toll - they weren't
doing well in school; they were nervous all the time, and they didn't
socialize much," Delphine said. "The year that my son was in first
grade, I was constantly waking up late, and he was constantly late for
school," Jane said. "They really can't count on you." "They were
really afraid.

They were so scared of the way we were living," Delphine said. "What
they didn't like was the fights that my husband and I had." "The
discipline was wishy-washy. When you were using, you just let them do
anything just to get them out of your hair," Jane said. "And when you
came down, you wanted to be this disciplinarian, and they just didn't
understand. Jane said it horrifies her when she thinks of the times
that she put her children and other people's children in danger. "I
would be entirely tweaked out and take my kids and other people's kids
to a motel and let them swim," she said. Jane also said meth killed
her appetite, and because she wasn't hungry, she never thought that
the children would be hungry. "They would say, 'I'm hungry,' and you
would say, 'Go eat some of your Halloween candy,'" she said. Both
Delphine and Jane have been clean for more than a year, are going
through treatment and trying to rebuild their relationships with their
spouses and children. "I do feel like a part of my life has been
stolen during that time, because it was precious time that I lost with
my kids - there are a lot of things that I don't remember," Delphine
said. "My daughter would say 'Why don't we sit down like other
families at supper and pray?'" Jane said. "But we weren't a normal
family; we were chaotic." Jane gave birth to her youngest son when she
was in the throes of addiction. And, even though she quit using when
she found out she was pregnant, she worries meth affected her young
son. "He's tiny and not as good a reader as my other two kids, and it
makes me wonder if there's going to be a long-term effect," she said.
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