Child Neglect or Abuse as a Consequence of Methamphetamine Addiction
Child welfare experts and family therapists have long known that there’s a connection between parental substance abuse and the maltreatment of children, whether in the form of neglect or manifested in violence toward children. With the explosive growth in meth use in the United States over the last two decades—the number of drug treatment admissions for methamphetamines in the U.S. tripled from 1996 to 2006—authorities are also seeing increased incidences of child abuse or neglect in homes of users.
Studies in a number of states show that meth use is increasingly a factor in child protection and child welfare cases. In Minnesota, researchers found that meth use accounted for four out of five child protection actions in some counties. The state of Tennessee saw a 25% increase in removals of children from meth-affected homes in one year. North Dakota officials estimate that one in six children who enter foster care come from homes involving meth use or addiction.
The unique characteristics of meth have caused substantial concern among public health officials, as well as child welfare workers. Meth is often immediately addictive, and has much longer periods of high and fall than any other drug. Some meth users can stay awake for several days at a time, and meth use typically involves extreme irritability, paranoia and depression.
The abuse of children in meth-affected homes extends beyond physical abuse. Meth suppresses the appetite, so parents who use meth tend not to feed their children. Meth also stimulates the sex drive, which can lead to sexual abuse of children.
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