Addiction in the Heartland, how drugs and alcohol are getting into the hands of our youth

Mindy Davidson knows first-hand about addiction and offers new insight as to why drugs and alcohol are getting into the hands of our youth.

"We were in my sisterâ??s bedroom, and I can remember it like it was yesterday, we were in my sisterâ??s bedroom, and she said I got some of this, do you want to try it and I did it, so it's just that simple,â?? Davidson said.

She recalls the first time she tried methamphetamine, just 12-years-old at the time, and it would lead to an addiction that would last for nearly two decades.

â??My family functioned out of pain, trauma and fear,â?? she said. â??My mom was a single mom with five kids and she did what she had to do to survive so it's the way we grew up, that's all I knew.â??

So she turned to meth to numb the pain.

"When you suffer a lot of trauma, you look for something to take the feelings away, and meth did that for me,â?? Davidson said.

Today, the 38-year-old mother of six has been sober for seven-and-a-half years.

"My kids are my everything, and I was not a good parent for a very long time,â?? she said. â??I got involved with the Department of Human Services, and so there was the chance that I wasnâ??t going to be able to be a mother to my children if I didnâ??t get things on track, and so thatâ??s what I did.â??

Through her job as a parent-partner coordinator and avid volunteerism, Davidson dedicates her life helping others living with substance abuse issues.

"It appears that there's been an increase in designer drugs as well as misuse of pharmaceutical prescription drugs,â?? she said. â??There has been a rise in Wapello County as well as the obvious of methamphetamine, which has been an issue in Wapello County for a long time.â??

Last month, the Jefferson County Alcohol Task Force held a town hall meeting drawing light to some alarming statistics.

"It's a grant funded organization that tries to educate our local community about the dangers of underage drinking and the consequences that come with it," Troy Seeley, Juvenile Court Officer Supervisor, said.

13-percent of the area's youth admit they began drinking alcohol at the age of eight or younger.

â??Every kid has an iPhone,â?? Margorie Gerber, Clinical Director of First Resources Corporation, Fairfield said. â??Every kid has YouTube access. Every kid sees on Facebook the latest parties that somebody has gone to, so to me social media has added a new intense element of fitting in.â??

Experts say talking to your kids and setting ground rules is key.

â??That may or may not be what that kid will choose, but they will know what their parents expectations are, and those parents will have a framework to say â??you crossed the line, and now you have a consequence because you know the rule.â??â??

"If you are not educating your kids about substance abuse until they make it to high school, then you're way too late."

There are a number of resources in the Heartland, if you or someone in your life is struggling with drug or alcohol abuse.

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