Breaking the Cycle: Meth Addiction in the Heartland

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UPDATED: January 5, 2015

The IowaWatch documentary, “Breaking the Cycle: Meth Addiction in the Heartland,” examines the impact methamphetamine has on Iowa children raised in a home with a parent addicted to the drug.

These children face neglect and abuse that can affect their mental, emotional and physical health and can lead some to pick up the drug themselves, continuing the generational cycle of meth addiction.

This documentary follows the lives of three women who tried to raise children while under the influence of methamphetamine – including one who also was the child of a user.

Over the past few years, Iowa has seen increasing numbers of meth-related prison incarcerations, meth lab seizures and children with meth found in their bodies.

Those increases come despite passage of an Iowa law in 2005 restricting access to pseudoephedrine. In the years immediately following the law, numbers decreased but since 2008 many indicators are again showing meth use increasing, with more Iowa families torn apart.

GO BEHIND THE SCENES WITH REPORTER KATIE KUNTZ

THE MAKING OF “BREAKING THE CYCLE”

In researching this story, reporter Katie Kuntz estimates she pored through nearly 500 pages of documents, including budgets from the Department of Human Services, the Governor’s Office on Drug Control Policy, the Department of Corrections, the Department of Education, the general state budget, and countless research articles on physical and mental health concerns related to methamphetamine use.

Kuntz also interviewed more than 20 individuals, speaking with recovering meth users, two of whom chose not to become a part of the finished documentary, as well as with sheriffs, deputies, police officers, a correction officer and firefighters who had responded to homes where meth was used.

Included in this documentary are interviews with three recovering addicts, a treatment provider, a licensed social worker, a treatment care coordinator, a police investigator and an attorney who specializes in meth removal cases.

The entire project took a little more than one year, during which Kuntz also worked other jobs, internships and was a full-time student at the University of Iowa. Kuntz attempted to visit all the people included in the documentary at least twice and to maintain communications via phone or email after the initial interview.

Kuntz did this project as a University of Iowa Center for Research by Undergraduates (ICRU) fellow, which included a scholarship, in the 2013-14 school year.

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