Friday, March 31, 2006

How am I qualified to do this?

Sometimes I wonder, why in the world they set me loose to work at a shelter. I feel like I do not really know that much. The other day I was holding a two day old baby (yes, two days old!) and I cannot believe that I did not drop him. When a woman comes to me who is terrified of staying at a shelter, how can I reassure her if I have never been to that shelter?
All I can do is listen and offer what I do know. And pray. For my lenten resolution this year, I decided to work to create more fulfilling relationships with the women who come to our shelter. So far it is going pretty well. They are more than willing to talk and I just need to take the time to listen.

Making your own fun

Every week we have two community nights, mondays and thursdays. Monday nights are out of our control, they are planned for us. Thursday nights we decide what we want to do. Last night our house decided to bake cookies for the other two houses. Eight people trying to bake cookies in a none too big kitchen is really not the best idea. The cookie baking evolved into launching balls of cookie dough off of spoons, trying to get them to stick to the walls and ceiling (it goes well with the noodles that are already there!). Brilliant. FYI: cookie dough does not stick to the ceiling or walls.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Drug use

The other night I was watching a PBS special on Crystal Meth. It traced the historical use of meth, from its use as an alternative drug to becoming the greatest single drug problem in the West. When Meth first came onto the scene in the early 80's, the government was highly concerned with battling the use of cocaine and heroin, and did not view Meth as a threat. Meth's largest component is ephedrine, which for a very long time, was not regulated. Meth manufacturers were able to purchase literal tons of the powder. The government did not catch onto this fact until the early 90's. Once ephedrine was regulated, illegal drug manufacturers began to use pseudoephedrine, which is nearly the same chemical makeup and functions the same in meth. Pseudoephedrine is the active ingredient in Sudafed and most other cold medicines. It can also be legally obtained. Only recently has the government passed regulations regarding the sale of pseudoephedrine. Why? Because the large pharmaceutical companies have extreme financial interest in continuing to sell large amounts of their products. Now, just about anywhere you go, it is necessary to purchase products containing pseudoephedrine directly from the pharmacy counter. Also, you are required to provide identification and are only allowed to purchase up to two boxes.

However, these measures are too little, too late. The damage has already been done. Meth irreversibly changes the brain chemistry of users. It changes to dopamine receptors (pleasure centers) of the brain to accept meth. Also, horrific physical changes beset meth users.
The greatest drug problem facing my clients is meth use. You can tell within a minute who is or has been a meth user. Their skin is honestly yellow. It is chaulky and sallow. They are often covered in sores. Around their eyelids turns a dark purple and their eyes are perpetually watering. Meth users' gums and teeth decay over time. They often lose drastic amounts of weight and are severly depressed, particularly if they are trying to kick the habit. They are generally unable to eat and often suffer seizures as they withdraw.
To see the failure of the government in battling this drug, you only need to walk down to civic park or talk to any social service provider. It is really a tragedy.