Comments Off on ‘Ice That Burns,’ a workshop on meth epidemic to address effects on children of addicts

EVANSVILLE —Despite the publicity of the high rate of methamphetamine use in Southwestern Indiana, Vanderburgh County Superior Court Juvenile Division Judge Brett Niemeier doesn’t believe the community has made much of a dent on what he calls the meth “epidemic.”

“It severely impacts my court,” Niemeier said. “I have so many children that I see that have been taken from their homes because of unsafe homes because of meth usage and meth labs.”

“People can recover from (meth use) and live a very productive life in our community and that’s what we’re fighting for.”Laura Hatfield

In fact, the court announced changes last month that it was shifting judges’ responsibilities to better combat the rise in meth cases. Niemeier said such cases are the No. 1 for a dramatic rise in Children in Need of Services reports. That’s why he is encouraging “everyone we can to attend” an daylong workshop Friday designed to help community members become more aware of what they can do to help try to curb the problem.

Sponsored by the Substance Abuse Council, “The Ice that Burns,” A Community Strategy on Combating Methamphetamine seminar, 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday at the Holiday Inn on U.S. 41 North, will feature two speakers from the RiverValley Behavioral Health Regional Prevention Center in Owensboro, Ky. Those planning to attend the workshop, which costs $25 and includes a continental breakfast and lunch, must register by Wednesday by calling the Substance Abuse Council at 812-422-0626.

“We have rented out the Holiday Inn so there’s space for up to 200 people,” said Laura Hatfield, the director of the Substance Abuse Council.

Hatfield said the two RiverValley officials, Gary Hall and Terry Stinson, will present similar material about trying to fix the meth problem here that they have used with groups in Kentucky for the last couple of years.

Niemeier said he is excited about their presentations and hopes many in the community decide to come as well.

“It’s literally an epidemic,” he said about meth use. “The more that we can focus attention on it by training with programs like this one — the Ice That Burns — hopefully the community will become much more aware and will continue to make a concerted effort to rid of this problem.”

The worst consequence about the meth problem, Niemeier said, are the users’ children — who often never return to their parents if they’re arrested. He said he hopes this workshop for help address that.

“Any time you can bring awareness to the community about meth and the dangers of meth and how it affects families and kids and the community at large, I think it’s a very worthwhile endeavor,” he said.

Even for children whose parents have never gotten caught by the law for using meth, the drug often has dire consequences on those they are supposed to be caring for. Niemeier said often children of meth addicts are malnourished and are not properly cared for. He said authorities have discovered multiple cases of head lice in homes where meth use is reported.

“The parents,” he said, “all the want to do is try to figure out how to score their next meth hit — and the kids are just forgotten.”

Most of the seminar will focus on how community members can spot and prevent meth use, but there will be some uplifting news as well, Hatfield said. During lunch, a recovering addict is scheduled to address attendees. Hatfield said she hopes hearing his story will further inspire people to continue to do what they can to curb meth use in the community.

“People can recover from it and live a very productive life in our community, she said, “and that’s what we’re fighting for.”



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