State: Growing number of women addicted to meth, expert says

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— Increasing numbers of Colorado women are becoming addicted to methamphetamine after turning to the drug to lose weight or find the energy to keep up with demanding lives, a health official says.

"They use this drug in the short term just to stay up," Janet Wood, director of the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Division of the state health department, said Tuesday. "And then what hits is the uncontrollable addiction."

Women account for about half of all patients in meth treatment programs, according to statistics discussed at a meeting of the Colorado Methamphetamine Task Force.

Women made up between 45 and 50 percent of meth treatment admissions from 2000 to 2003 and were 49 percent of them last year, the statistics showed.

They turn to the drug because of the "go-go society they find themselves in," Wood said. Some start using it to keep up with the workday and to deal with aging parents, stressful children and other demands, she said.

Many women using meth are able to function normally, Wood said, and some don't seek treatment for as many as seven years.

A woman identified only as Tina told the methamphetamine task force she had four children and became a supervisor at a large supermarket during her years-long meth addiction.

"The majority of people who do meth are master manipulators. I was a drama queen," Tina said. "I fooled the system. I thought I was always right."

A 2004 study of pretrial inmates in a Larimer County jail found 25 percent were female meth users. The same report also found that during the year studied, 24 women were admitted for medical care for meth abuse problems, compared with 21 men.

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