Magazine article Addiction Professional

A Mom Gives Back

Magazine article Addiction Professional

A Mom Gives Back

Article excerpt

As a mother who had her children removed from her home, Kris Salisbury proved to be an ideal member of the inaugural "Moms Off Meth" support group in Ottumwa, Iowa nearly a decade ago. The group (, which has now expanded into other areas of the state and also into other states, was formed to offer mothers working their recovery from methamphetamine addiction some additional emotional and practical supports that overwhelmed state and county caseworkers could not provide.

The founders of Moms Off Meth were Judy Murphy, now a meth specialist with the Iowa Department of Human Services, and Cheryl Brown, director of the Crisis Center & Women's Shelter in Ottumwa. Salisbury had known Murphy before they both attained sobriety during the 1990s--Murphy well before Salisbury. Salisbury achieved her sobriety on Aug. 16, 1999, but struggled for years prior to that date.

"Everybody that I knew from the mid-1980s started using meth and I got into using," says Salisbury, now 43. "Somebody brought some meth in from California and it just started from there."

Salisbury used methamphetamine for 12 years, and says her three children "went through my addiction with me." On Dec. 3, 1998, her home was raided by a drug task force, who removed her children and placed them with her parents. The task force had been tipped off that Salisbury was manufacturing meth, though this was not happening in her home.

A Department of Human Services worker asked Salisbury if she needed help. "I was tired of living that way and I was devastated, and I was living with a man who was really, really abusive," she says. "So I went into treatment."

Group dynamic

The first Moms Off Meth group started in July 1999, and Salisbury knew she wanted to be part of it. "I knew when I got sober that I wanted to help other people because I felt finally like I was alive and I had a purpose in life," she says.

The original group had four members and two facilitators--Murphy and Brown. Salisbury stayed in that group for several years. The groups are designed for the women to take ownership and decide how they are run. "We have expectations that we talk about at the beginning of the group and things that we just won't stand for, but everything else comes from them--what they want to see in the group, what they want to do, who they want to come to the group, so it's strictly about them," says Salisbury. …

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