By: Nicole Fisher, LMSW
Book review of
Children of Methamphetamine Involved Families: The Case of Rural Illinois , by Wendy Haight, Teresa Ostler, James Black, & Linda Kingery. Published by Oxford University Press, New York, 2009. 264 pages, $35.00.
Children involved with parental substance use are deeply affected. How deeply they are affected and what interventions are effective are the main themes in Children of Methamphetamine-Involved Families: The Case of Rural Illinois (Haight, Ostler, Black, & Kingery, 2009). This book examines parental methamphetamine misuse in rural Illinois and how it affects children and families. Specifically, the authors were looking to answer four questions: what external conditions exist for children, how well children function psychologically, what are implications for treatment, and how effective is the intervention.
The authors also examine sociocultural issues related to policy, the legal system, the mental health system, and the child welfare system. Although this book is focused specifically on methamphetamine use in the rural Midwest, the general information can be applied to other substance misuse and populations.
This book is divided into three phases. Phase One highlights perspectives of methamphetamine use and describes areas for change on a micro and macro level in the social work field. The authors also give an overview of the research program and the intervention utilized. Phase Two provides the reader with narratives and case examples written by professionals (a Midwestern child welfare worker and a psychiatrist), recovering mothers, and children’s experiences. These narratives highlight the importance of the intervention and describe the cultural sensitivity to working with families in the Midwest. Phase Three describes the Life Story Intervention. This is described utilizing three case examples written by the community clinician performing the intervention. Results of the three children are included, but results of the rest of the study are not. The authors do state the “empirical assessment of life story intervention will be forthcoming in future publications” (page 222). The book concludes with a summary of the research and highlights the importance of utilizing evidence-based practice in the social work field.
Overall, I found this book to be informative for social workers who are interested in both treatment and policy level issues associated with methamphetamine use. At the individual level, it demonstrates how the effects of methamphetamine use can quickly turn into community and regional level problems. However, the main focus is on giving insight into treatment options for children and their families. This book is thought-provoking, and I recommend it for social workers and policy makers interested in the treatment and prevention of substance abuse.
Reviewed by Nicole Fisher, LMSW, Intensive Case Manager, Substance Treatment Services, Department of Veteran Affairs.