Letters From the Issue of Thursday, December 8, 2005

The Meth Plague

How to deal: My hat goes off to Maggie Voss and her accomplishments. What she's done for herself and her family is no easy feat ("Ice, Ice, Baby," Robert Nelson and Joe Watson, November 24). I know this because my story is very much like hers: hard-core biker chick and strung-out dope fiend for well over 20 years.

I'm two and a half years clean, and with the help of my Higher Power, I will stay this way the rest of my life.

I wonder, though, do you know about Women in New Recovery? You mentioned the Center for Hope as a long-term rehab center for mothers with children. But Women in New Recovery is a seven-month, inpatient treatment facility that also includes WINRs & Kids. WINRs is a nine-month inpatient facility for mothers with their children, and it was there that I found my recovery and my true spirituality.

Both of the programs feature a peer-driven community, which basically boils down to one addict helping another.

I had state Child Protective Services in my life for the third time and was told in no uncertain terms that this was my last chance. I started out in the WINRs primary program, where I built the foundations for my recovery, and then went into WINRs & Kids.

Unlike most inpatient treatment facilities, residents there are required to maintain steady employment, which actually taught me how to be a mom in recovery and how to deal with supporting my family, as well. Yet it was all done with the loving guidance of other women in recovery.

Even the majority of the staff at WINRs actually graduated from the program. Being in treatment with my children made a huge difference in how we interact as a family now. They understand that without me, there's no us. And that no matter what, my staying clean is the top priority. As long as I do, I'm free to be the mom they always wanted me to be.

My children were entirely too involved in my life of drugs, and they really seem to enjoy being involved in my life of recovery. I graduated the program in May 2005, but I'm still very closely connected with my "family" there; I do all I can to help the women just coming into the program.

Thank you, New Times, for printing a story of recovery and hope. I cried when I read Maggie Voss' story because stuff like that shows me that I can do it, too. The world needs to know that there really is a solution and that places like Harbor Lights, Center for Hope, and Women in New Recovery are a huge step in the right direction.
Cindy Hoffman, Mesa

A pound of cure: I read with interest your article "Ice, Ice, Baby," about how most Arizona policymakers are working in the opposite direction of solving the methamphetamine problem.

I'm into my second year of an 8.75-year sentence for a non-violent crime. I would like to note that 70 percent of women locked up are non-violent and that about 85 percent of the female offender population is made up of mothers.

Unfortunately, this is not my first time in prison. The first happened more than 10 years ago. I have never been afforded treatment, which is my fault, too. But treatment probably would be the solution rather than doing seven years for a money crime because of my addiction.

After reading your articles, I know now that treatment would have been the right answer for myself, for my children and for taxpayers.
Ramona Holderman, Arizona State Prison, Perryville

Problems and solutions: Of all the other drugs that have plagued our society, meth is the worst. It causes people to get into a vicious cycle.

There has been so much made over crack cocaine, but though it gets most of the publicity, it has not taken nearly the toll that meth has. How often do you hear of somebody on crack shooting and killing a cop, like that young crank-head did here in Phoenix?

Maggie Voss' story was so uplifting, because after reading your original stories in your meth series ("The New Boss," Joe Watson, Robert Nelson and Paul Rubin, November 3), it seemed that there was no hope at all. Now I see that people can be cured of the plague of meth. It takes commitment on the addict's part, but mothers addicted to meth shouldn't be written off. Motherhood is the strongest force there is -- once the mother can see through her drug haze, she will return to her kids at all costs.

It's not surprising that punishment-crazy Arizona law enforcement authorities are missing the point on how to make a bad situation better. Maybe the smart ones in the police community will read your stories and take a different tack.

Thanks for not doing what the news media usually does -- load us down with problems and offer no solutions.
Connie Serrano, Tucson

An addict's life: I'm a meth addict, and I just wanted to say that your stories have been very accurate. You have written what it's like to be trapped in my so-called life.

I've tried treatment, but it hasn't worked for me. As soon as I get out, I go back to the pipe. I plan to try again soon, if I don't wind up in jail or dead first.
Name withheld by request

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