More problems for the children of Meth users

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Drugs of addiction

Addiction.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Being around Meth users is bad for children.

Just read another study that reports on another problem for children of meth users. Like we needed another study to tell us that using Meth is bad for both parents and their children. We know Meth use is bad, just we may not yet know how bad and in what ways. Still, this study caught my eye for several reasons.

This study looked not at Newborns but at toddler age children of Meth users. It found parental Meth use affected these toddlers in some ways we had not looked for before.

These kids show an abnormal stress response. This will have an impact on these kids for the rest of their lives.

We have long known that the mother’s drug use during pregnancy can and does affect the child.

Alcohol is the easiest case in which to see this. We started out thinking that above a certain point alcohol could damage the fetus. For a long time, we talked about safe levels of alcohol use and how much alcohol consumption did it take to result in “Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.”

This concept, that some was safe and you had to drink a lot to harm the fetus, has been modified as we found problems in children whose mothers drank smaller amounts of alcohol and still those children showed long-term problems. We now referred to these problems as “Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder” in recognition that any alcohol can affect the unborn child. We also now believe that high blood concentrations of alcohol on anyone drinking occasion, known as binge drinking, can result in damage even if the pregnant woman drinks moderately or not at all. Binge drinking harms both the mother and the unborn child.

What does this have to do with children of Meth users?

For one thing, we believe that the brain of the unborn child is heavily influenced by the chemicals in the mother’s bloodstream. What damage is done depends on which of the various structures in the brain and nervous system are being formed when the mother drinks or uses.

The fetus is experiencing a higher dose of the drug than the mother because the liver of the fetus is not well-developed. The drug passes through the placenta to the fetus and then has to return to the mother to circulate through her bloodstream and eventually be removed by the mother’s liver.

My experience clinically, and there seems to be research that bears this out, is that mothers who used Meth during pregnancy have more children with long-term learning disabilities than women who abstain from drugs during pregnancy.

This brings into question if Meth and possible Cocaine affects the unborn what effects could other drugs have?

Mothers who use depressants like Heroin appear to have children with one set of learning and behavioral problems. Children of stimulant abusers have a different set of problems.

This makes me wonder what the risks are for the children of women who consume these highly caffeinated energy drinks.

We also know that many of these drugs have larger more amplified effects on the unborn if there is alcohol in the mother’s bloodstream. This is a case of 2 plus 2 being 6 or 7 when it comes to creating harm for the unborn.

Where this new study expanded our knowledge of the effects of parent drug use on children was the evaluation of continuing stress on the children who had been exposed to Meth.

What they found was that this combination of pre-birth exposure to Meth and ongoing stress in the family resulted in toddlers who had greatly exaggerated or changed responses to stress even when outside the home.

The implication here is that the cumulative effects of Maternal drug use and then stress in the mother or family’s life after the birth magnifies the problems for the child.

All this argues for the critical need for more drug abuse prevention and treatment for women during their child producing years and for treatment to help parents of young children cope with stress and provide a less stressful environment for the child.

We can help the mother at this critical time or we can plan on building more special education classrooms, jails, prison, and mental hospitals for these kids later down the road.

I know what I think the better and more cost-effective path would be, but I doubt that the people who pay the bills for treatment will see it that way.

Getting tough on sick people is a lot easier to sell than dollars for prevention.

Here is wishing for a better and happier future for all of us and the children who come after us.

David Joel Miller, LMFT, LPCC

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Seven David Joel Miller Books are available now!

My newest book is now available. It was my opportunity to try on a new genre. I’ve been working on this book for several years, but now seem like the right time to publish it.

Story Bureau.

Story Bureau is a thrilling Dystopian Post-Apocalyptic adventure in the Surviving the Apocalypse series.

Baldwin struggles to survive life in a post-apocalyptic world where the government controls everything.

As society collapses and his family gets plunged into poverty, Baldwin takes a job in the capital city, working for a government agency called the Story Bureau. He discovers the Story Bureau is not a benign news outlet but a sinister government plot to manipulate society.

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Dark Family Secrets: Doris wants to get her life back, but small-town prejudice could shatter her dreams.

Casino Robbery Arthur Mitchell escapes the trauma of watching his girlfriend die. But the killers know he’s a witness and want him dead.

Planned Accidents  The second Arthur Mitchell and Plutus mystery.

Letters from the Dead: The third in the Arthur Mitchell mystery series.

What would you do if you found a letter to a detective describing a crime and you knew the writer and detective were dead, and you could be next?

Sasquatch. Three things about us, you should know. One, we have seen the past. Two, we’re trapped there. Three, I don’t know if we’ll ever get back to our own time.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

For videos, see: Counselorssoapbox YouTube Video Channel

Dangers of Binge Drinking

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Drinking

Binge drinking.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Binge drinking may be more dangerous than we thought.

One drink per day for thirty days, for many people this is no big problem. No drinks for thirty days and then binge drink thirty drinks in one day, that would be a huge, maybe fatal, problem.

Thirty drinks, if consumed rapidly enough and kept down would result in a “theoretical” blood alcohol level of .60 which is enough alcohol in one person to have made seven and a half people legally drunk. At that blood alcohol level, the person would probably not need treatment. They would already be dead.

Blood alcohol levels of .50 to .60 are likely to be fatal. But even lower levels can kill or permanently injure a person. Alcohol kills more people in the United States every year than ALL DRUGS, legal or illegal combined (not counting nicotine.) Even when people die from other drugs, they typically have alcohol in their bloodstream.

To be fair, not everyone who drinks, binge drinks, and gets drunk. About half of all Americans old enough to drink have not had a drink in the last thirty days. Those who drink a lot, damage themselves and others a lot.

The twenty percent of Americans who consume the most alcohol, the frequent binge drinkers, consume 80% of all the alcohol sold. The majority of all the people in prison around here were drunk or high in the 24 hours before they committed the crime that sent them to prison.

People who drink rapidly and reach high blood alcohol levels are likely to have blackouts.

Even at much lower levels, we find that “binge drinkers,” those who consume larger than typical amounts of alcohol on one occasion, are 55 times more likely to attempt suicide.

The damage alcohol does to the body depends on the level of alcohol in the bloodstream. Our way of assessing risk, based on the number of drinks during a single “drinking episode” is biased towards underestimating the extent of binge drinking. Not everyone who drinks gets the same result.

The blood alcohol level is dependent on a number of factors and the number of drinks is only one of those factors.

Body weight influences blood alcohol levels. If a one hundred pound person and a two hundred pound person have the same number of “standard drinks” the one hundred pound person will have a significantly higher blood alcohol level.

Alcohol is soluble in water, the more water in the system the lower the blood alcohol level. Men have more water per pound of weight than women. This means that if a man and a woman of the same weight drink the same amount of alcohol the woman ends up with a higher blood alcohol level.

Liver function also affects the body’s ability to process alcohol. A damaged liver and the drink will stay in your system longer.

Age is a factor. You can put color on your hair but you can’t pretty up your liver. As you age the liver gets old and tired. It won’t process as much alcohol per hour. An old liver will result in higher blood alcohol levels. Studies tell us that the “safe” level of alcohol consumption for an “older person” is maybe half what it was for a younger person.

If one glass of wine a day is good for you at age 30, three glasses a week will be your max at age 80 or so. I know there are exceptions, don’t email about your grandparent who still drinks a tall one every day and is in good health. Studies say that for the elderly, most of them, 3 drinks a week would be all that is safe.

Binge drinking is defined as 4 drinks on one drinking occasion for a woman and five drinks for a man. We have already underscored that for people of low body weight or the elderly or woman these numbers are way too high.

Who is at the highest risk for medical problems from binge drinking? Four groups are at highest risk, the young, the old, the pregnant, and the alcoholic.

The young have more drinking problems.

They don’t know the risks and the results. They can get drunk, hurt someone, be in trouble and there goes the life. Almost all people with a substance use disorder become alcoholics or addicts before the end of their twenties.

The elderly have lots of substance use problems.

These folks are not exempt. In more than half of all hospital emergency room admissions of senior citizens, the elderly person is drunk or high when the accident occurs. One reason seniors are falling down and breaking hips is they are stoned.

Seniors may become depressed when they retire or end up living alone. They may drink; take prescription drugs and even illicit drugs. Put that all together and it is easy to have substance abuse get out of control in the elderly.

The pregnant should not drink.

Any alcohol is bad for the developing fetus, the more alcohol the worse the damage. We can’t always see the damage as it can hide in lower IQs, retardation, and learning disabilities. Alcohol induces “Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder” which is the largest source of preventable birth defects.

The alcoholic will not be able to safely drink.

As many an alcoholic will tell you “one is too many and a thousand is never enough.” The hallmark of alcoholism is the loss of control. An alcoholic has lost control of how much they will drink once they get started. The only “safe amount” for someone with a history of alcoholism to drink is – none.

Many drug addicts get into recovery and then fool themselves by thinking “I never had a problem with alcohol so I can drink safely.” Scratch a drug addict and you will find an alcoholic. The same seems to hold true for anyone who has had any other form of impulse control problem.

Consider for a moment. If you drink multiple drinks, most days or end up drunk when you drink you may have a drinking problem. If you binge drink, drink with the intent to get drunk or buzzed, you are in the highest risk group.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Seven David Joel Miller Books are available now!

My newest book is now available. It was my opportunity to try on a new genre. I’ve been working on this book for several years, but now seem like the right time to publish it.

Story Bureau.

Story Bureau is a thrilling Dystopian Post-Apocalyptic adventure in the Surviving the Apocalypse series.

Baldwin struggles to survive life in a post-apocalyptic world where the government controls everything.

As society collapses and his family gets plunged into poverty, Baldwin takes a job in the capital city, working for a government agency called the Story Bureau. He discovers the Story Bureau is not a benign news outlet but a sinister government plot to manipulate society.

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Dark Family Secrets: Doris wants to get her life back, but small-town prejudice could shatter her dreams.

Casino Robbery Arthur Mitchell escapes the trauma of watching his girlfriend die. But the killers know he’s a witness and want him dead.

Planned Accidents  The second Arthur Mitchell and Plutus mystery.

Letters from the Dead: The third in the Arthur Mitchell mystery series.

What would you do if you found a letter to a detective describing a crime and you knew the writer and detective were dead, and you could be next?

Sasquatch. Three things about us, you should know. One, we have seen the past. Two, we’re trapped there. Three, I don’t know if we’ll ever get back to our own time.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

For videos, see: Counselorssoapbox YouTube Video Channel