BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - Methamphetamine is a devastating epidemic in our community. Many families are destroyed by the drug.
Bakersfield native Lisa Chavez said it is hard to comprehend addiction.
"I know it breaks a lot of kids hearts having to see their parents go through that stuff," Chavez said.
Now 19, Chavez remembers, as tears stream down her cheeks, what it was like having a meth addict for a mom.
"You feel like, 'Why me? Why do I have to be going through this? Why does my mom hate me?'" she cried. "Why do they not love us? Truth is, they do. They just make bad decisions sometimes, and you can't make that for them."
Through years of pain, Chavez has always had to stay strong.
"Instead of me going to school, I would help take care of the kids," Chavez said.
She became a habitual truant. And by fifth grade, her three younger siblings were already calling her mom.
"I don't blame them for thinking that because I was always there. I potty trained them because my mom was always spending money on drugs," Chavez said.
Her mom did what addicts do best, supporting their addiction despite the casualties.
"We had just moved, and we had no food at all probably just milk. That's it," Chavez said.
Adrienne Buckle from Kern Stop Meth now said neglect is a common scenario for children of addicts.
"Most of us would see a child, our own child especially, and say, 'Oh my, this child needs food, needs clothing.' When someone is dealing with an addiction, they don't think that way," Chavez said.
It's a selfish lifestyle resulting in kids being put in the system or having to grow up too quick, like Chavez.
"I mean at the end of the day, I wouldn't be alive if it wasn't for her. So I have to forgive her I guess, but sometimes when I think about it, I wouldn't do that to my kids. You know?," Chavez said.
According to The National Institute on Drug Abuse, when a child is in a home with a parent who is an addict and the home life is chaotic, the likelihood of them using is extremely high.
"For these kids we can't say the school didn't do their job, or probation didn't do their job, or whoever didn't do their job. It is a community, we all have to work together," Buckle said.
"We can't help what our parents do but we can stop what we do. We don't have to follow in their footsteps. We can change it," Chavez said.
Her desire for a different life came after she unexpectedly opened the door of Stay Focused Ministries.
"I came to Stay Focused because I felt like they were the type of people to help if I asked for it," Chavez said.
A village raising a child, Stay Focused got Chavez back in school and on track.
"Everything I've seen in life, I want to help out anyway I can. So I thought being a police officer I can see the stuff I went through, but I'll be on the other side," Chavez said.
She hopes telling her story will stop someone else from repeating it.
"If you're going to do it, don't have kids. That's the easiest way to put it. Put your life through something, not a little kid's life through something. Or if you know your going to do something, put the kid up for adoption. Send it to the grandma, don't let them see you do that everyday," Chavez said.
Click here for information on Kern Stop Meth Now.
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