June 25, 2014

IowaWatch/Nonpareil To Co-host Council Bluffs Forum ‘Breaking the Cycle: Meth Addiction in the Heartland’

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Iowa has seen increasing numbers of meth-related imprisonments, meth lab seizures and children found with meth in their bodies in recent years, despite a 2005 state law restricting access to pseudoephedrine. This raises the question: how can Iowa break a cycle of meth abuse?

A forum co-hosted by the non-profit news organization, IowaWatch, and the Council Bluffs Nonpareil, and sponsored by Alegent Creighton Health Mental Health Services and Mercy Hospital, is to be held the night of Tuesday, July 1, to seek answers.

The forum will be in Meeting Room B of the Council Bluffs Public Library, 400 Willow Ave., from 6 to 7:30 p.m. The public is encouraged to attend this important forum. IowaWatch will also be liveblogging the event.

A highlight of the forum will be the showing of a 25-minute documentary, Breaking the Cycle: Meth Addiction in the Heartland, written and produced for IowaWatch by Council Bluffs native Katie Kuntz.

Katie Kuntz

Katie Kuntz

Kuntz produced the documentary as a senior IowaWatch honors project at the University of Iowa, from where she graduated in May. Following the showing a panel will discuss the impact meth abuse has on Iowans and suggest ways to stop the cycle of abuse. Audience members will have a chance to comment and ask questions, as well.

The panel will consist of Glennis Guerrero, sober since last abusing meth nearly 12 years ago and working to keep others away from meth addiction; 4th Judicial District probation officer Keith Roman; Scott Halverson, Alegent Creighton Health Manager; and Katie Kuntz. [ED.NOTE: This story reflects a change in the Alegent Creighton health representative that was made after the initial announcement about the forum was made.]

Lyle Muller, executive director-editor of the Iowa Center for Public Affairs Journalism that runs IowaWatch, and John Schreier, news editor for the Nonpareil, will co-moderate the forum.

View the Documentary: Breaking the Cycle: Meth Addiction in the Heartland

The Iowa Center for Public Affairs Journalism-IowaWatch, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that does investigative and public affairs journalism; makes that journalism available free on its website, IowaWatch.org, and through media partners; and trains college students to do this journalism at an ethical, high level.

Lauren Mills July 1, 20148:29 am

Can’t make it? IowaWatch will be liveblogging the event from Council Bluffs. Check back here for updates during the event.

Lauren Mills July 1, 20145:11 pm

The forum has officially started, with over 30 people attending. To view the documentary, visit: http://iowawatch.org/2014/06/05/breaking-the-cycle-meth-addiction-in-the-heartland/

Lauren Mills July 1, 20145:50 pm

On the panel tonight: Glennis Guerrero, who appeared in the documentary and has been sober since using meth nearly 12 years ago; 4th Judicial District Probation Officer Keith Roman; Alegent Creighton Health Director Haley Ehlers; And IowaWatch’s Katie Kuntz

Lauren Mills July 1, 20145:51 pm

Getting people in the community together and supporting each other is the most important thing you can do after treatment, said Roman

Lauren Mills July 1, 20145:53 pm

Kuntz on creating the documentary: It’s important to me that there is that hope aspect, even though there is still so much to be done.

Lauren Mills July 1, 20145:58 pm

Roman: I don’t currently see a trend of drugs going away. We continue to need resources for ongoing treatment, both for the individual using themselves and for the whole family.

Lauren Mills July 1, 20145:59 pm

Roman: When somebody comes into our program at a young age who already has 10 years of drug use already, it is hard to change that. There is a long road to recovery.

Lauren Mills July 1, 20146:05 pm

Ehlers: The community needs to pool resources and local facilities need to collaborate to decrease cost of drug treatment and make sure the patient is not forgotten or overlooked.

Lauren Mills July 1, 20146:05 pm

“It destroys you from within,” Guerrero said of methamphetamine.

Lauren Mills July 1, 20146:10 pm

Roman: One thing we try to encourage is having clients that are in recovery talk to those that are coming in. It does give hope to those clients. One of the aspects of this drug is that it is very insidious. When they are coming into our program, they are very low. They don’t feel they have any hope of overcoming this addiction.

Lauren Mills July 1, 20146:15 pm

Roman: As part of treatment, clients are required to get a job and help pay for that treatment. We have a great number of businesses in this area that have an open heart and are willing to work with our clients.

Lauren Mills July 1, 20146:22 pm

Roman: Throughout the Midwest, meth seems to be the “go to” drug. It is, in my mind, the most addictive drug around. We hear a lot in the news about synthetic drugs, but by and far many clients told me that the first time they used meth they knew they were addicted for life.

Lauren Mills July 1, 20146:23 pm

Guerrero: I started drinking when I was 13. I first tried meth when I was 17 and that was it. I was hooked.

Lauren Mills July 1, 20146:25 pm

Haley Ehlers, Alegent Creighton Health Director, discusses the challenges of treating meth addiction.

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