Crystal Clean: A mothers struggle with meth addiction and recovery


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Skip Navigation Kmart home. Melissa, feeling lonely and depressed, reconnected with a high-school crush.

Crystal Meth Addiction Statistics | Talbott Recovery

According to Melissa and her sister Michele Baker, the man introduced Melissa to meth. The meth was only an occasional dalliance for Melissa until July , when her mother, whom she loved fiercely, passed away. Michele alerted the police, but Melissa called later that night and said she was fine; she had been on a meth binge in Oklahoma. Melissa, who wept throughout our hour-long interview, says her mother had been her best friend.

I walked away from them when they needed me the most. Along the way, Melissa was charged with theft and put on probation for failing to return a rental car on time; she and Michele said a friend of hers had taken it without her permission. Joe, who finds drugs repugnant, was fed up.

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He filed for divorce that October. Soon after, Melissa married Joseph Arms, a younger man who had had occasional run-ins with the law. According to a psychological examination performed by a court, he was diagnosed with mild mental retardation. Joseph was a hard drinker and a meth user. Michele said he would sometimes erupt in jealousy, yet openly express interest in other women.


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  6. Several times he attempted to hit Melissa, the sisters say. Joseph says Melissa was also physically aggressive toward him. In , Melissa got pregnant. Throughout her pregnancy, she used meth four times, she later testified, including the night before her son was born. She gave birth to a baby boy, who was described by hospital workers as being slightly jaundiced on one side. While Melissa was at the hospital, a hospital worker found a drug pipe in the trash can of a room where she had rested before her delivery.

    Michele said the pipe belonged to Joseph, who had it with him when Melissa went into labor, and who disposed of it in a panic. Joseph denies the pipe was his.

    The hospital dispatched a police officer, who interviewed the nurses tending to Melissa and Joseph. The nurses said Melissa appeared to be on drugs, and Cannon used this fact, along with the pipe, to obtain a search warrant for her blood and urine. Both she and the baby tested positive for meth. Michael was put into foster care, and Melissa was ordered to take parenting classes and go to rehab.

    She completed both, according to court documents. She also passed regular drug tests and attended a step group. According to medical records, Michael was later diagnosed with mild cerebral palsy, a condition that doctors say may be linked to prenatal drug exposure but also to other factors. After she recovered, Melissa used her disability check, which she received for PTSD and depression, to rent a two-bedroom, two-bath trailer home in De Queen, Arkansas.

    She got the utilities hooked up and stocked the place with food and baby supplies. Both Michael and her daughter were staying overnight occasionally, and Melissa felt like she finally had her family back. In June, both of her kids moved home. In late August, the couple was just days away from regaining full custody, the family said, when Melissa received a call from her social worker while out running errands.

    The social worker told her to return home; when she arrived, police officers pulled up and arrested her. Andy Riner, the prosecutor on her case, says it simply had taken that long for the state to get the full panel of drug-test results back.

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    Meth Recovery

    It argued that Melissa and her son were connected by his umbilical cord at the time of his birth, and that in this way, she had infused him with meth before the cord was cut. She was sentenced to 20 years in the Arkansas Department of Corrections, the maximum for this type of crime. In all, she lived with Michael as his mother for less than a year.

    She had done everything the state had put in place. This is punishment. This is not rehabilitation. Arkansas has seen at least 73 cases under this charge since , according to a list I obtained from the state. Of the 24 guilty verdicts in which the gender of the defendant could be determined, the majority were men, which suggests that, indeed, pregnant addicts are not the ones who are most commonly charged under the statute. In February, State Representative Nate Bell filed a bill to this effect, but it did not pass before the session ended. Melissa is still in prison.

    In January, the court of appeals affirmed her sentence, and her case is now headed to the Arkansas Supreme Court. I waited 18 and a half years to get pregnant, and I messed up.

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    On December 9, , Joseph waited until Joe had left for work, disconnected his cell phone, took the baby, and left town. He has ceased contacting Melissa entirely, she says. In a recent phone call from a relative's house in Antlers, Oklahoma, Joseph told me he plans to get off disability and train to become a welder. My sanity is going crazy. In some countries, the children of drug-addicted women are rarely removed, and the women themselves are almost never jailed. In a journal article, Fentiman, the Pace law professor, wrote about the only known pregnant Canadian woman to be indicted for hurting her own fetus.

    In , a postal worker named Brenda Drummond inserted a pellet rifle into her vagina and fired. The baby was born alive two days later, and he underwent surgery to remove the pellet.

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    Though Drummond was charged with attempted murder, an Ontario judge dismissed the case because under Canadian law, a fetus is not considered a human being. Fentiman wrote that French courts have generally taken a similar stance. Lester told me how a New Zealand audience reacted once when he was giving a lecture there about the way things work in the States.

    In the course of their research, Lester and his team found that 40 percent of the meth-exposed newborns they were tracking in various U. Among the New Zealand mothers, the number was around 13 percent. There, healthcare workers attempt to identify drug-using pregnant women or new moms early and give them ramped-up services. One Auckland rehab center, Odyssey House, brings pregnant addicts, and sometimes even their partners, into residential treatment with or without their existing children. After the mother has the baby, Odyssey House provides parenting support and helps them reintegrate back into their community, usually over the course of six to nine months.

    Another one of its programs treats the children of drug addicts, then takes them all on a horseback riding trip with their parents for added bonding.

    Crystal Clean A mothers struggle with meth addiction and recovery

    Both programs are completely free. Approaches like this are driven by the view— shared by the National Institutes of Health —that addicts are sick, not malicious. In the U. Although addiction is often the result of poor life choices, once it sets in, addicts have little control over their habits.

    All types of drugs, both legal and illegal, work primarily by causing dopamine levels in the reward center of the brain to surge. Meth spurs cells to flood the brain with this ecstasy-inducing neurotransmitter. They can use a chemical to give themselves a reward. Heroin addiction can be eased with drugs like methadone, but no medications have proven effective to treat meth dependence. In the meantime, counseling and therapy are the only treatments available for meth addicts.

    Hudak, the Florida neonatologist, says it's far more effective to get drug-using pregnant women into the treatment programs that are available early on, rather than refer them to law enforcement after they give birth. Many states lack the resources to treat all the drug addicts within their borders, however. In Oklahoma, there are drug-treatment beds available for women with dependent children.

    As of December, 1, people were waiting for a bed, including pregnant women and new mothers. Twenty million of those dollars were restored in later years, but much of that money was earmarked for specific programs and did not make up for the shortfall. Agency spokespeople said their constraints make them feel pressured to play whack-a-mole with the worst cases while early-stage addicts go untreated.

    Not long ago, I met the operators behind a Tulsa advocacy center called Just the Beginning, which, among other things, connects drug- and alcohol-addicted women to residential treatment facilities. We met in Tulsa at a rehab home that Just the Beginning is closely partnered with. The home seemed to face serious limitations: It worked mainly with women who had already been to jail, had only 23 beds, and was running on a shoestring budget.

    Such tight finances can leave addiction-recovery programs at the mercy of good Samaritans.

    Crystal Clean: A mothers struggle with meth addiction and recovery Crystal Clean: A mothers struggle with meth addiction and recovery
    Crystal Clean: A mothers struggle with meth addiction and recovery Crystal Clean: A mothers struggle with meth addiction and recovery
    Crystal Clean: A mothers struggle with meth addiction and recovery Crystal Clean: A mothers struggle with meth addiction and recovery
    Crystal Clean: A mothers struggle with meth addiction and recovery Crystal Clean: A mothers struggle with meth addiction and recovery
    Crystal Clean: A mothers struggle with meth addiction and recovery Crystal Clean: A mothers struggle with meth addiction and recovery
    Crystal Clean: A mothers struggle with meth addiction and recovery Crystal Clean: A mothers struggle with meth addiction and recovery

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