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Today's word on journalism

January 13, 2009

Breakneck:

"I get the feeling that the 24-hour news networks are like the bus in the movie 'Speed.' If they stop talking for a second, they think they'll blow up."

--Jon Stewart, The Daily Show, 2008 (Thanks to alert WORDster Ross Martin)

Speak up! Comment on the WORD at

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Feedback and suggestions--printable and otherwise--always welcome. "There are no false opinions."

Drug abusers' young kids suffer the nightmare and anxiety

By Debra Hawkins

December 15, 2008 | She is scared of red and blue flashing lights. Her reoccurring nightmare is one of men in dark blue uniforms and badges coming in cars with flashing lights to take her away. To her, the police are the bad guys, not the white substance controlling her life.

She has never purposely partaken of the drug, but at 9 years old, she can't really control what her mother does. By the time Deejae was 16 months old, she was in protective custody and her mother had given in to the addiction again. She hadn't meant to. She had already lost two children through foster care and adoption and she said she had no intention of losing another. Terri truly wanted to provide for her child, but when her tax return came through shortly before Deejae turned 2, $40 went to buy a new vacuum and the rest was smoked up in a glass pipe.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, methamphetamines, or meth, as it is more commonly known, is a very addictive drug, affecting the central nervous system. The drug increases levels of dopamine in the brain, affecting the user's motor function, motivation to accomplish necessary tasks for human survival and can lead to thrill seeking. Meth is one of the more popular drugs because it can be made from household products and can be taken several ways, including smoking, ingesting, snorting and injection.

Terri said her first experience with drugs came when she was 12. Everybody around her did drugs, including her mother and sisters. She started out slow with cigarettes and alcohol before moving on to marijuana. She said she only wanted to see why everyone else around her was doing drugs but after she tried them for herself, she couldn't stop.

"I like the way that it made me feel," Terri said. "There have been many times I have wanted to stop and I couldn't."

When Terri was 21 years old, the marijuana and alcohol weren't enough anymore and she started to try meth. She was first caught and charged with possession of the drug two years later when two police officers stopped by her apartment to see why so many people liked to hang out there. She was charged with possession of drug parapaneila and later released.

A year after she was released, Terri said her house was raided for drugs. There were 10 adults and five children, two of which were her own, in the house at the time.

"They busted my door down," Terri said. "Ten cops came in screaming with their guns. I remember when they took me out to the police car all of my neighbors were standing around watching. The whole apartment complex saw me get arrested that night."

Terri said she listened in horror as the rest of the apartment was searched and the police came across the children in the other room.

"I didn't get to say anything to my kids," she said. "The police went into their rooms and I could hear my kids screaming. The cops pointed their guns at my daughters until they realized they were little children."

She said she lost custody of her two oldest daughters that night. Her two children spent the next day in a shelter home. It was her oldest daughter's seventh birthday.

Terri said she attended classes and stopped doing drugs, trying to do everything she could to get her children back. She said she believes the foster parents with custody of her children did everything they could to turn her children against her.

"When they told me that they were going to go for termination of my parental rights, they told me that my middle daughter didn't even think of me as her mom." Terri said. "This was the daughter that had never spent one day away from me until I was arrested and now she only thought of me as some lady she had to see once a week and she didn't even like doing that. I truly believe they turned my kids against me."

Terri was promised an open adoption, with cards, pictures and visitations rights, but in the last nine years, Terri said she has seen her children three times, with the last time being nearly eight years ago. Her youngest daughter, Deejae, was two weeks old at the time.

Shortly before Deejae was born, Terri turned back to drugs, smoking marijuana for the last few weeks of her pregnancy. When her baby was 2 months old, Terri went back to meth. With her two oldest daughters, Terri had been careful to do drugs away from them, but with Deejae, Terri did the drugs in the same room as her baby.

"I did a bad thing with her," Terri said. "The whole time Deejae was a baby, I did drugs around her. She wouldn't stay in the other room while I was trying to get high so I would go get high with her there."

When Terri stopped doing her after-care treatments mandated by the state, a social worker obtained a court order and took Deejae into protective custody.

"It was more traumatic when they took Deejae away because I never thought I would get her back," Terri said.

Although it was more traumatic in the beginning, Terri said she realized how different this time was going to be. Terri said she felt the foster family taking care of her daughter really wanted her to succeed in getting her child back and she was accepted in a program called Drug Court.

According to the National Association of Drug Court Professionals, Drug Court is a program designed to help people recover from their addictions without having to permanently incarcerate them. In Terri's case, she would call in every day to a system that would let her know whether or not she had to come and take a drug test that day. If she followed the steps of the program, including clean drug tests, getting a job and a safe place to live, she would progress and be rewarded. For Terri, the rewards were extended time with her daughter and eventually being allowed to take her daughter places without supervision for their visits.

In the beginning of her experience with Drug Court, Terri continued to use drugs. Operating under the three strikes and you're out rule, Terri said she was told she had two more chances or her parental rights to her youngest daughter would be terminated. Terri, not wanting to lose another child, kept herself clean for a year and a half. After nine months of a clean record, Deejae was returned to Terri.

"As happy as I was to have her home, it scared the crap out of me," Terri said.

About a year after Deejae was returned to her, Terri said she thought she was strong enough to drink without getting back into drugs, but within a few months she was using drugs just as before.

Terri used drugs on and off for the next few years. She said she attempted to clean up her act several times but could never pull it off by herself. She said the drug usage terrified Deejae and made her act out. "She was out of control," Terri said. "She worries about me all the time. She followed me around the house to make sure I wasn't using."

Terri just recently completed a program at a rehab house that allowed her to bring Deejae with her. Since she has stayed clean, things between the two of them have been much better.

"She doesn't argue with me and she doesn't whine and cry like she used to," Terri said. "We spend time together. Although I know she is still scared, sometimes I will go and get high again."

Terri said she works hard at staying clean and making sure her daughter doesn't follow in her footsteps.

"I am trying to remind her of all of the bad things she has seen with me," Teri said. "I tell her that she can be so much more than what I was. It is a waste of time for her to be like her mom. She can be so much better than I was."

Since Terri's last stint in rehab, Deejae has been less fearful, with fewer dreams of the cops taking her away from her mom, but Terri said both of their lives are a work in progress and that is what she attends to do: keep progressing.

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