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November 17, 2010     Feather River Bulletin
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November 17, 2010
 

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Feather River Bulletin Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2010 9A Linda Satchwell Staff Writer Isatchwell@plumasnews.com This is the second in a two part series on the devastating effect of meth addiction. Part 2 looks at the alcohol and drug services Plumas County cur- rently offers, what more it could do and what a difference these services make. This is not the story I'd hoped to write. After report- ing the emotional story of one family's battle with meth addiction, in which Julie, the grandmother, went to Family Court in Quincy to have her grandchildren removed from her meth-addicted daughter's home, I hoped to tell you that various county services came together to offer drug testing, and that Mary, the daughter, was currently testing and on the road to regular visits with her children, custody and a life. But I'm not writing fiction, and the facts don't always conform to our imagination. One-half of the story is true, however. Adele Myers, court investigator for Family Court Services, contacted Tom Hayes, chief executive officer at Eastern Plumas Health Care in Portola, to see if they could work out an arrangement for testing at the hospital. After a couple of e-mails back and forth, Hayes said EPHC would offer this testing for the nominal sum of$10 a visit; the piece that had been missing for two years as the county grappled with the ram- ifications of closing its Alco- hol and Drug Services was solved in 10 days. In the meantime, Julie filed for a restraining order this summer against her daugh- ter. She wanted to stop Mary from taking the children, Joel and Maya, on a whim in- stead of showing up for scheduled meetings. Julie said that Mary, whose per- sonality has been hijacked by meth, would scream at her in front of the children if she were not allowed to take them when she showed up unannounced. A month later at their court hearing, Judge Janet Hilde didn't sign the restraining or- der. Instead, she gave Mary a chance to begin drug testing through the new program at EPHC, near her home. She set a second court date in two months' time. Though Mary was offered the chance to drug test again as a way to get on the road back to custody of her chil- dren, it had been two years since she'd tested last. Two years as a meth addict. Whatever motivation Mary might have had to get her children back, be their moth- er and have a real family had dissipated as the drug in- creased its grip on her life. Mary never took advantage of the testing. According to her sister, kids, and a variety of pro- Melanie, Mary started acting grams that offer support dur- less volatile when she came ing their recovery. over to see the children, at the Outgoing district attorney day and time prescribed by Jeff Cunan sent a letter to the Judge Hilde, but she never Plumas County Board of Su- mentioned drug testing, pervisors informing them But she didn't show up for that the county has declined the second court date, and over $1 million in state and Judge Hilde finally signed federal funds over the past the restraining order that two years. would keep her from seeing Further, Cunan contends her children for three that Plumas County is the on- years. Myers noted, "Other ly one of California's 58 coun- orders can be made to modi- ties that doesn't have an alco- fy (the restraining order) to hol and drug program. allow for visitation if, for During public comment at instance, the parents' cir- the Nov. 9 Board of Supervi- cumstances change and sors meeting, Cunan recom- they begin testing." mended the county take ad- As a Family Court investi- vantage of the "approximately gator, Myers sees firsthand $515,000 immediately avail- the destruction that meth de- able to Plumas County for livers to families. It replays drug and alcohol services" for again and again. The fact that the 2010/2011 year if it ap- Family Court has now offered points an alcohol and drug ad- free drug testing services to ministrator. (See related sto- two people who have turned it ry.) down as a child custody con- According to Myers, half a tingency is sad but not sur- million dollars would make a prising to her. huge difference. "Clearly, It shows "how insidious that's what this county drug addiction really is -- to needs," she said. "An experi- give UP your child for a sub- enced drug and alcohol treat- stance is pretty telling," My- ment professional to set up ers said. the ... infrastructure so ser- Meth, she continued, is the vices aren't duplicated. worst drug she sees, "the Treatment groups, a good sol- most insidious, the most dif- id drug testing policy in ef- ficult to maintain a long- feet, utilized by all the agen- term recovery." Nearly all of cies --that money could be her clients have to go easily funding that... The through recovery numerous drug and alcohol program be- times, fore wasn't great, but throw- For addicts to successfully ing it out isn't serving peo- kick the habit, "There has to ple's needs, especially where be comprehensive, wrap- there's money available. I'm around services." The entire astounded." family needs to be involved. Myers echoed Judge Ira They need counseling ser- Kaufman, who hears the vices, help taking care of their county's juvenile cases. He .AYMOND PAINTING "Special Holiday Pricing'" Free Estimates Interior Exterior Residential Commercial ~ Serving all ofPlumas & Sierra Counties ~ L. 836-,339 CA Lic. #759277 Hwy 89 Crescent Mills 284-6016 Over 120 Top Channels inoluding local Channels f~w I~ months l"~mo~th =tit tst F~ HD require g4-month AGmerr~nt .~d AutoPay with Papedew Billing. SIGN UP TODAY AND ALSO GET: FREE HD DVR DVR Is leased. ($6/mo DVR Service fee applies) FR E Installation In up to 6 rooms J il I said that well over 50 percent Plus, testing is "a valuable Their bedrooms still ap- of the kids in foster care are treatment tool. The client has peared to be waiting for them fallout from their parents' tangible, measurable proof" to return. Now, it's home to meth use. The closing that they're working hard and meth addicts. According to of Alcohol and Drug Services "it's paying off." Julie, her oldest grandchild, has had a devastating effect Myers praised EPHC for Joel, said, "I can't believe my on these children and their setting up a system for drug morn gave our house away... families--and, finally, on so- testing. It will be used eventu- we're never going home, are ciety as a whole, since 40 per- ally, and it will make a differ- we?" cent of foster kids will end up ence, she said. When asked why she thinks homeless or in jail. In her restraining order, Mary didn't chose to drug test Myers said the community Julie said she included her this time, Julie said, "She's needs to realize what a seri- whole family history, which adjusted to the situation. ous problem meth is in includes multi-generational She's comfortable that (the Plumas County. "It's really meth use. The way users children) are with me, happy bad stuff," she said. "When think, if you're not using with and taken care of. Short of they shut down a lab, they them, you're against them,Mary being arrested and put have to send Hazmat in there, she said. This helps explain in jail... Death or jail, noth- it's so toxic. It's incredibly ad- why one family member willing else will stop her." dictive ... A 30-year-old will introduce another to the drug. Julie said her focus contin- look 60. You basically surren- Julie reiterated that her ues to be her grandchildren's der everything." biggest motivator is keeping well-being. She tells herself, The fact that, when addicts her grandchildren off of meth. "What you're doing is what get to a certain point in their She said she works to giveyou need to do." recovery, they want to keep them the tools to be able to After the first article of this drug testing is testament to say no in the future, and she's series appeared, she said she the positive power of testing honest with them about their received a phone call from a She's had recovering ad- parents' drug use. grandmother whose own dicts ask to keep drug testing Also, it was a wake-up call daughter had been on drugs. three or four times a week, to them when their mother al- She lost custody of her chil- said Myers. Their minds have lowed her uncle and his fatal- dren, and she's been clean for cleared of the drug to the ly to move into the children's seven months. This grand- point where they see how old house. The place had mother said, "I admire you... much they stand to lose. 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