Judges and child-protection workers call methamphetamines the scourge of parenthood. They label it the “walk away” drug, because that’s what parents do, says the Denver Post. In many Colorado counties, meth has become a leading cause of child neglect. Officials estimate the drug now accounts for up to 80 percent of the cases in which they consider taking kids from their parents. Investigators “are walking into homes where there is no water, no electricity. The parents have sold all their furniture,” said Theresa Spahn of a state program that provides guardians to neglected children. “They’re walking away from their children. This is a crisis.”
Denver tracked a 230 percent increase in drug-abuse-related child-protection cases in the past two years. In Colorado, counselors complain, treatment for meth addiction is generally unavailable unless you’re insured, pregnant, or caught in a child-abuse case. Those cases have been growing not only in Colorado cities but also in largely rural counties that once had few children in protective custody. “Basically the meth problem in Mesa County is huge,” said Tom Papin, its human-services director. “We are seeing 80 to 85 percent of our child-welfare cases have meth-involved parents.” Because meth enables people to stay high for days but ultimately ruins them physically, emotionally and financially, “it’s much more difficult to put a family back together than with cocaine or other drug or alcohol use,” he said.