meth

"There isn't a sober person in the family." by richard ross

We have the same mother. Haven't seen dad since I was three, when he died drinking. I'm in here for drugs, pills, weed, and some harder stuff. I've been at this facility for 11 months. I went through the Drugs and Alcohol Program, but I got drunk the same day I finished. —T.P., age 17

I'm in the 9th grade, I flunked out of my first school. We grew up on the reservation. Everywhere on the res, you can find alcohol, pills, meth—the men drink and the women do pills. There isn't a sober person in the family.

—I.P., age 15

_mg_9279

_mg_9279

"I don't have a dad. He’s locked up." by richard ross

I like to swim a lot, but they only give us 3 minutes to shower. I’m 15 now. I was 13 when I first came here. I live with my mom and grandmother. Not my stepdad. He split with my mom—she kicked him out because he was doing drugs and giving me drugs. Just bud and beer. I don't have a dad. He’s locked up. He wants to know about me but I don't care about him. I’m here because of drugs and because I’m a runner. I run from placement. The first time I was in placement it was for 7 days. I was 14. It was a group home with 4 girls. The judge put me there. Before that I was in juvie. I was 13. Then I was in placement for 4 days. I was 14 years old. And this was after change of faces. I was at a place after that for 20 hours. I’ve been here 18 times previously. I just don't want to be in placement. The judge doesn't want me at home. He gave me a lot of chances. I was on EM (electronic monitoring) at least 5 times, I would just cut it off. I would get arrested, then maybe get out and go to my grandmas house, and then somewhere else. And then I’d be back home within 72 hours, but they would still charge me for running.

My mom would call the cops on me. I would be all high on meth. I tried to stab my mom, but that wasn't me. It was the meth. My stepdad tried giving me meth when I was younger, but I liked the beer and the bud. There was no sexual abuse, but there was verbal abuse when my mom would party with her homegirls. They would get drunk and they would verbally abuse me when they partied. There would be drinking and cigarettes, no hard drugs. One time I got crazy with them because they went into my room and got my blankets and stuff and I started hitting them. They would talk shit to me but I wanted them to respect my shit. It’s my house and my property.

The dot on my arm? That's where I got a TB test and the nurse gave me a shot. I smoke meth, I tweak, sometimes I’m twisty. I smoke it. I usually didn't go to school. I would go for 2 or 3 days when I was 10. But once I tried meth I stopped going to school. The first time I tried meth I was 13 at a party. We would smoke at parties, we would smoke at my house, but I could stop. I don't need anybody to help me. I could stop because I overdosed in a restroom about two weeks ago. I was throwing up and I knew I was close to death. But I stopped for two weeks, and I been here for a week. So that's 3 weeks. So you see I could stop any time I want. But I have a taste for it, when I think about it I have a taste for it. But then I think I was going to die, and I was so scared… I was this close. So I think I can stop.

I go to court in 5 days. The judge wants me to go to placement. He wants me to do what he wants me to do. He’s not my mom. He’s not my dad. Why would I listen to him? I listen to my mom sometimes because she wants me to be safe. But then other times I don't listen to her because I just want the drug.

—O., age 15

AO9A0366

AO9A0366

"She told me today that she’s pregnant." by richard ross

I live near the city college I live with my mom, two sisters, a newborn, and my stepdad. I have an older brother, but he’s out of the house. My stepdad’s a chef. And my mom works at a bakery. I was taken away by social workers. My mom told them that I hit her, but I really just ran away with my girlfriend. I wasn’t going to school. I was living in the street at friends’ houses with my girlfriend. I guess I was couch surfing. Yeah, I guess I was homeless. My mom came to see me today, with my girlfriend. She’s still with me. She told me today that she’s pregnant. I’m in 11th grade. I can barely take care of myself. I got a grand theft charge. The judge sent me to placement rehab. Mostly alcohol and weed and meth. My girlfriend would keep me on the right path. When I was on the outs, I wouldn't eat or sleep because of all the drugs. In here, I’m always sleeping to catch up on lost sleep and I’m always hungry. ‘Cause now that I’m not on drugs I’m hungry.

They have me for grand theft and possession of meth. I hope they give me probation. I think I’m going to go to a placement home. I was interviewed on Friday, and I’m just waiting for them to pick me up. I have to do nine months. If I go AWOL, I’ll be in bigger trouble. I’ve been here for two weeks for the same charge. The grand theft was I snatched a phone from an open car. They caught me sitting in the car and they tried to catch me for GTA. They tried to put those charges on me.

—K.O. age 17

AO9A4246-Edit

AO9A4246-Edit

"I’m not allowed to see my biological mom, but I know her telephone number by heart." by richard ross

The first time I was in the system, I was 14. I've been here twice. Now I’m here on violation of parole. I was fighting in school. They had me for assault with a deadly weapon. I hit a girl with a hammer. The hammer was in a utility closet. The girl tried to jump me. I’m a junior, ninth or tenth grade, but I rarely go to school. I violated my parole before. It’s stupid, because I cussed out a teacher. My mom has visited me here today. I’m a twin. My brother still lives with my mom. I have an older sister, M.H., she’s 16. She’s in here too. There are five kids that live at home. I don’t know my dad. My mom works at a convalescent home. I don’t do drugs, no weed, no alcohol. I had a boyfriend at the last place. He was there for assault also and doing 9-12 months. You do good and you can get early release. My sister M.H., she’s been all over the place. From level 14 placements. She got in a fight with two white girls and they sent her to to a different facility. I refuse to go to the other unit. What’s the point in getting settled in another unit when I’m getting released to another place tomorrow. Then I’ll leave May 8th for a home.

We were taken away from my biological mom. Her boyfriend was beating her. She was doing a lot of drugs. She was leaving us kids alone. She was using meth, coke, staying out late. My sister M.H. had to watch over for us. She’s strong. She isn’t a fighter, but if someone is messing with my family, she’ll fight. I’m the same way. There is just a lot of dirt and filth in my house and my mother would abandon us for hours, days at a time. We were taken away from her when me and my twin were four, had one sister that was two, M.H. was five, and one brother that was three. We’ve been living with my foster mom since I was four. I started cutting when I was 12. That’s when things started going away fast. I’m still doing it once in a while. I’ve seen my sister come over here once and I see her walking around. I’m not allowed to see my biological mom, but I know her telephone number by heart.

—L.S., age 15

AO9A4107-Edit-Edit

AO9A4107-Edit-Edit

"Six different people raped me." by richard ross

First time I was here I was 14. This time I’ve been here for two months. I went AWOL from placement. When I was upset with my mom, I used drugs. I regret that. I live with my mom, my 14-year-old sister, my nine-year-old brother, and my stepdad. He’s protecting my family while I’m in here. I don't feel like I’m 15. I don’t feel like I’m a little kid anymore. I started doing meth when I was 13. I got it from my friends. First I was smoking, then sniffing, then doing hot rows, then I started shooting up. That was very messed up. I was running away from my problems.

I was raped when I was trying to protect my sister.

I let him rape me so she wouldn’t get hurt.

CA_Central_12_22_13-31

From three to five I was raped by my mom’s stepdad. He escaped to Guatemala. That affected me bad. I got beaten by my mom’s ex-boyfriend. I was raped when I was trying to protect my sister. I let him rape me so she wouldn’t get hurt. That’s the reason for all my bad behavior. My PO and social worker don’t get it. I can’t be in a group home or foster home, I have to be taking care of my family. Why punish me? My social worker knows why I keep doing this. I’ve had therapies since I was 14. But it stopped. I have these memories all the time. It all falls apart. My mother works with my grandma, they collect scrap metal. My grandma and aunt wanted to help me and take me into their homes. My social workers say I’m psychotic, but I’m not. I could be dead by now. They should know the reasons. What I’m doing is not my behavior, it’s the things I’ve been through. Six different people raped me. I’m trying to learn by going to church. You can’t forget, but you can learn to forgive.

-N.B., age 15

 

**Interviews with youth are recorded to the best of our ability. All personal histories and anecdotes are self-reported by the children. To protect confidentiality of the youth, identities have been obscured, initials have been changed, and identifying details have been removed. Interviews have not been edited for content.

"My life is all over the place . . ." by richard ross

This is my second time here. The first time I was here I was 16. But that's the normal life in a bad neighborhood. I been to foster homes, group homes, shelters, placements, everything that probation and DCFS has had, I’ve been through it. I was six years old when my mom and dad divorced. I have two half brothers and a sister. I was living with my dad, he used to be a commercial scuba diver. But I don't surf or anything. I don't need anything to do with water.

 It’s when I go home that things go to hell.

CA_Central_12_15_13-22

I been to placements like a six bed facility in the Valley, I was there 7 months. I succeeded out there and completed their highest levels. It’s when I go home that things go to hell. I stayed with my mom for four months, then she messed up and I took off for a good 2 or 3 weeks. I would do crack . . . I guess I’m addicted. My dad used to do crack and alcohol. My life is all over the place. I deal a lot with mental health services for anger management, lots of group therapy. I went to a foster home when I was 14. I was into meth, but I’m gonna stop. I’m gonna stay sober. I have a son that was born three weeks ago with my ex-girlfriend. She screwed up. Meth is self-medicating for me. But I’m trying to do restitution. Maybe they’ll put me in a drug program. You can be with probation until you’re 25, but I plan on being there for my son . . . unlike my mother and father who weren’t there for me.

-D.G., Age 17

 

**Interviews with youth are recorded to the best of our ability. All personal histories and anecdotes are self-reported by the children. To protect confidentiality of the youth, identities have been obscured, initials have been changed, and identifying details have been removed. Interviews have not been edited for content.

"This wasn’t my first choice, this life." by richard ross

This is my first time here. I’ve been here six weeks. Actually this isn’t my first time here. I was here when my mom was pregnant with me. So maybe I was here 16 years ago. I went to foster care, and then I got back in touch with her some months before I got locked up. I lived with my uncle, my mom’s brother, who fostered me and then adopted me until I was 15. I was there most of the time, but then I got kicked out because I argued a lot. I would go live with other people . . . friends. Then I lived with my boyfriend and his mom. I got kicked out and needed somewhere to go. My boyfriend works at a warehouse.

Everything was ok until I was about 13. Every adult I was with said I don't care about you no more.

CA_Central_12_15_13-16

I was going to school in 12th grade recently. I would go back to school. I do an online school, it’s easy. I could either do it from home or at the teen center at 88th and Vermont. I was born with a lot of drugs in my system. Sometimes I process things slower. I smoke weed but that's about it. I tried meth and coke but it wasn’t for me. Everything was ok until I was about 13. Every adult I was with said I don't care about you no more. I buried both my parents. It’s time for me to take care of myself. When you’re on your own you’re on your own. When my uncle was in a good mood it was ok, but when he was mad he threw me out of the house in a tank top and shorts with no shoes. I had to call my brother who was in the house to throw me down my shoes. It was winter and I went to my friend’s house. He was doing drugs so I just started doing it with him.

You do what you gotta do to survive. It sucks.

This wasn’t my first choice, this life. I would do things like babysitting, but selling weed is a lot easier. I use the money for clothes and food. I would stay mostly with friends. It's a rough life, as some would say. If you had the same life, people would understand. But if they haven’t had this life, people, they can’t believe it. But for someone who’s been through the same, it’s no big deal. You do what you gotta do to survive. It sucks. It's a world of no Christmas presents and no birthday presents. One night I got chased by somebody with a gun. No shit you could lose your life doing this. But being depressed doesn't hurt anybody but you, so you might as well have a smile on your face.

-L.T., age 17

 

**Interviews with youth are recorded to the best of our ability. All personal histories and anecdotes are self-reported by the children. To protect confidentiality of the youth, identities have been obscured, initials have been changed, and identifying details have been removed. Interviews have not been edited for content.

"It’s all around me, that’s all I see." by richard ross

I’ve been here three weeks. This is my third time here. First time I was here I was 14. I was 11 when I started using meth. My mom’s an alcoholic; my uncle and my dad are addicts. It’s all around me; that’s all I see. I live in the valley in North Hollywood. I was abused when I was eight by my mom’s boyfriend. We filed a report, but he split and they never found him. It was a couple of years later that DCFS got involved. The social worker found that my mom wasn’t able to parent me. I wasn’t in school. Later on they found out that she was drinking a lot and she was never at home. I was living on the street at that point. No one was ever telling me anything, that I was doing good or bad. There were no consequences for anything I was doing. There was no involvement by any adults. At twelve I was taken away. This woman social worker took me from school to a group home. I don't know what’s going to happen . . . maybe placement.I’ll never go back to my mother; it would be a miracle if she stays sober. CA_Central_12_15_13-14

They closed my DCFS case recently after two years. The first time I was in placement, it was for six months. They liked me there and said I could go home after a while. But then I ended up in and out of placement and jail. I was in a camp until mid-summer. Then I was released to my mom who I hadn’t seen in three years. It was good—my mom was actually trying to be a mom. But my drug use was affecting me. They tried getting me treatment, but it wasn’t successful. I’ve been to a lot of different types of treatment. The longest I was clean was five months in camp. On the outs I was able to stay clean for maybe a week, but then I would go back.

I had to give her the opportunity to be a mom. I wish she had tried to get sober earlier

I’ve never had to buy drugs, it was always there. I never prostituted, but my mom was prostituting. I chose not to. Or maybe I did in a way. By using drugs and things I had to do favors for the drugs. A lot of my uncles were gang members . . . I grew up with this. I get so caught up in it. I was mad at my mom for a cool minute, but then I had to forgive her. I had to give her the opportunity to be a mom. I wish she had tried to get sober earlier. It was hard on me; I’m the second youngest. I’m happy my mom changed for my nine-year-old sister. I do want to stop coming to jail, but I don't want to lie to myself and say I’m never coming back . . . cause I will.

-S.O., Age 16

 

**Interviews with youth are recorded to the best of our ability. All personal histories and anecdotes are self-reported by the children. To protect confidentiality of the youth, identities have been obscured, initials have been changed, and identifying details have been removed. Interviews have not been edited for content.