Supermother's Latest Little Helper

Methamphetamine powder and women womans symbol CBS/AP

Even after working a full day as a hotel manager, single mom Wendy Kissell still looks like "supermom," but as CBS News Correspondent Mika Brzezinski reports, nothing compared to when she used to drink her morning coffee laced with methamphetamine.

"You just feel like you're superwoman," says Kissell. "You can do anything."

She's not the only mother who turned to meth to get it all done.

"I felt like I was getting everything done, and then some," says another Meth user, Mandi Stowers. "I could rearrange the whole house, move it outside and move it back again."

These women are well into recovery, but meth use among women is skyrocketing. Experts say it's because the drug makes them feel like they can reach an unattainable ideal.

"You're like, 'I'm doing all the things a woman is supposed to be doing,'" says Kissell. "A woman is supposed to be thin, a woman is supposed to be on top of her house, taking care of the kids, working."

At the Iowa State Penitentiary for Women 70 percent of women in drug treatment now say they were hooked on meth, and on the energy it gave them to get it all done.

Meth allowed Debra Breuklander to go 24 hours a day.

"Walmart's open all night," says Breuklander. "You can get those things done in the middle of the night and still have the day to run the kids."

To her neighbors in the upscale suburb of Clive, nurse Breuklander looked like a very energetic mother of three: active in the PTA, immaculate home, perfect garden.

"You don't have to be junked out laying on the floor with a needle sticking out of your arm to be addicted to this drug," says Breuklander.

As unlikely as it may seem, methamphetamine is, in fact, a rural drug. In Iowa meth abuse among women now rivals alcohol abuse.

In the long run, the drug that seemed such a benefit to Brooklander will cost her nearly five years away from the very thing she was fighting so hard to make perfect.

"It cost me everything," says Breuklander. "I missed my kids graduations.

"Out of three kids, I'll see one graduate high school."

"Nobody knew I had a problem, not for the longest time ... not until I started falling apart," says Kissell.

For Kissell, who served five years, recovery has meant giving up an impossible ideal.

"You see these women on TV pulling in $100,000, raising their kids (with) a beautiful house, and you compare yourself to that," she says.

Kissell says she will never do meth again. But for every woman in recovery, experts say, there are countless others hidden in the heartland, using this "supermother's little helper" in the privacy of their homes, which from the outside seem so perfect.
  • Jaime Holguin

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