For more than three decades, an epidemic has been surging across America, affecting individuals, families and society as a whole. The culprit is methamphetamines and Utah is not exempt from this devastation.
An alarming fact is that meth appears to be the drug of choice for women, reaching 36.8 percent of all Utahns admitted to public substance-abuse treatment programs. Of even greater concern is that many of these women have young, dependant children. Jordan Carter is one of those women who still feels the effect of her meth use and its impact on her family.
Born into a family of substance abusers, using marijuana and cocaine was part of life. However, while attending a party at age 24, Carter thought she was taking a hit of cocaine, but later discovered it to be meth. This became her drug of choice due to economics and the ease at which she could obtain the drug.
"Meth took me down very quickly. In a year's time I lost my business, marriage, house and son." At first Carter was able to work, maintain her family responsibilities and take care of her child. However, her child soon became second to her use of meth.
During the process of her divorce, the State uncovered her meth use and stripped her of her parental rights. Still, her meth use continued and brought her into a very violent relationship. Meth use can place a person on edge and escalate ensuing violence. Carter stayed in this relationship as it was her connection to her drug of choice, meth.
Once her boyfriend was busted for cooking meth, Carter took the opportunity to clean up her life. She found a stable job and a comfortable living environment. But the cycle of meth is difficult to break out of. She got pregnant while using meth and was very strung out at the time. Once again, she had no place to stay.
Prior to the birth of her daughter, she cleaned up her life enough to once again find a stable job and place to live. She was able to keep her daughter, as meth was not found in her newborn child. However, she was not able to remain sober for long and her life began to spiral downward. Her job was taken from her once again, as well as her young daughter.
After having her second child taken from her, Carter entered treatment with her only goal being to get her daughter back. She had no intention of quitting, but rather making it through the program, getting her daughter back, and continuing the life she knew. "Recovery snuck up on me. I finally began to recover from the violence and abuse that had taught me I wasn't worth anything. I was really looking forward to my life sober."
Carter admits that she never wanted to get sober, the reason being that "my life had pain and dysfunction and I couldn't picture my life without using." Having been raised in a family where substance abuse was commonplace, it was difficult for Carter to see life outside that of a user.
Now sober for four years, Carter has two daughters, a violent-free life and a good job in the field she hopes to excel in upon graduating from college. She recently earned her associates from a local college and anticipates starting her bachelor's soon. Today, she is actively involved in her kid's school and rejoices in the fact that people can count on her.
However, there are many people out there, including women and mothers who are leaving very deep, lasting affects on their children. "I have seen mothers that I knew and loved walk away from their children because they didn't know how to stop. I have seen parents with their children in meth labs."
Addictive lifestyles can have lasting affects on the children raised by the life their parents choose to bring them in to. Carter's first son has been in a state institution since age 14 and she is unsure when he will get out. "My addiction really affected him by watching his mother choose drugs over him."
Behind tears, Carter admits that her drug use impacted her son's life in horrible ways, but acknowledges that when children see parents overcome addictions and rise above the mistakes they have made, they become stronger.
"People make choices based on what they can see, and all I could see was drugs. I had hopes and dreams just like everyone else, but meth stole those from me. People can recover from meth and take control of their lives, moving forward and making contributions to society and life. I know a lot of people who have maintained sobriety from meth for a long time because they came to know a life without drugs."
* Jordan Carter is a pseudo name as per the confidentiality agreement for obtaining the interview.