Despite efforts to combat it, Utah’s meth problem continues to grow – especially for women, reports the Salt Lake Tribune. For five years, meth has been the top illegal drug of choice for Utahns entering public treatment. For women it surpasses even alcohol, the traditional front-runner, making it the only drug in history to have its female users outnumber males. Nearly half the women in treatment have children.
Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. has proposed investing $2 million in drug courts and $2.5 million to build two residential clinics to treat 600 women, giving priority to those involved with the child welfare system. Huntsman will have to convince lawmakers it is a wise investment, no easy task considering the stigma attached to addiction and a dearth of data on treatment, including how patients and drug court graduates fare over the longer term. A review by the Tribune of Salt Lake County data shows men are more likely to complete therapy than women by 10 percentage points. A Tribune analysis of drug-court graduation numbers found the lowest success rate in family drug courts, which cater mostly to women with children. Brent Kelsey, assistant state substance abuse and mental health director, disputes any gender gap in treatment success. He insists treatment works: “It has to. What choice do we have?” National research shows that for severe addicts – the type in Utah’s drug courts and public clinics – relapse is in the range of 50 percent to 90 percent.