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Kim Johnson ReportingSocial workers are increasingly worried that Utah is suffering an epidemic of methamphetamine abuse, especially among women.
The Deseret Morning News has produced a landmark series of reports on the problem, which is worse than you may have known -- Salt Lake City is third in the nation for the number of women being arrested who test positive for meth.
Experts say most women addicted to meth are mothers who are undereducated and overwhelmed with their responsibilities.
Pat Fleming, Salt Lake County: “They hook themselves up with a male that may not be the best person in the world. And the reason they do that is they need to supplement their income to buy food or take care of their kids. And this person expects them to go out and party with them, and that’s how the cycle starts.”
Fleming says many women abuse meth to escape their pain or to have the energy to be super-moms.
Pat Fleming: “The second time they use it's not quite as great so they use more each time and it goes on and on and pretty soon they're caught in the trap. And it happens to quickly with this drug. So that's why we think its so appealing to women. And on top of it guess what? I lose weight.”
For 13 years Robin Kahus abused meth to escape her life. When she became pregnant with 15-month old Cody, she got help.
Robin Kahus: “I knew I was done. I couldn’t take it anymore. I mean, it’s not I’m going to do this for my kids, I’m going to do this to get off probation. It was finally, I’m going to do this for me. And I’ve never been better.”
Robin has been clean for two years. She works at a nail salon, is a good mom to her baby, and to her oldest son, who she temporarily lost during her addiction.
Robin Kahus: “When I lost Tarin, I feel like I lost a part of myself. You know, you almost try to convince yourself that they’re just gone, that they died, just so you can get through it.”
She has great empathy for other mothers who've lost their children, but says there's hope.
Robin Kahus: “There is hope. From being homeless and being on probation, having warrants for my arrest, and losing my child, to being a licensed nail tech working in a spa, having my own place, having my kids and having my family support me.”
And she hopes other women imprisoned by meth can gather strength from her personal victory over an insidious substance. As we mentioned, Deseret Morning News is running a six part series this week on the meth epidemic in Utah.