“You are not going out with that boy unless his parents are driving and that's that. I'm not just Spitting Grits here, young lady!”

. . . My father, John Thomas Cravey, USAF, to me in 1956.
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ZEROMETH I: Girl Imploding

Mdaughter was imploding. To imagine what this implosion is like, watch “hackworth’s” video of Seattle’s March 2000 Kingdome implosion:


Methamphetamines do that, imploding the user from the inside out, a little more slowly that it took to destroy the Kingdome, but quicker than most other drugs out there.

Addicts use by snorting, injecting, smoking; then they feel fireworks going off inside them; immediately the poisons in the drug begin to rot their insides, their teeth, their face; then the user becomes wasted to the point of being unrecognizable.

Knowing what happens to meth users and seeing images of its devastation is hard to stomach, and it was happening to my daughter. The terrible truth about meth use is chronicled in all its horror in the state of Alabama’s Zerometh campaign, which teenagers who have watched it have compared to the worst horror movies they’ve seen.


Alabama Gov. Bob Riley kicked off the Zerometh

Campaign in 2008.

When my husband and I realized our daughter was back on meth (and probably had been for months), we knew we had to save her 18-month-old daughter, our granddaughter, Joanna Leigh, from a dangerous future. In December, we went to the Tuscaloosa, Alabama, county Department of Human Resource’s office to sit and wait until someone saw us. Understanding that we could not go into the agency with only suspicions, not even those suspicions developed after 20 years of dealing with our daughter’s unremitting, unrelenting drug use, we went armed with evidence, or so we thought, according to our definition of evidence.

How did we know? Thankfully, a friend of hers realized that in order to protect Joanna Leigh, she had to call us about the drug use. I told the DHR intake worker:

“Mary admitted to a friend that she was doing meth. The admission came out of her mouth. Not only that,” I added, “this friend was just recently with Mary in MY car when she pulled out the tin foil, meth, and whatever else it takes to smoke it, asking, ‘Is this going to bother you?’ as she lit up. The friend witnessed her doing it.”

Finally, I thought to myself, we have the credible evidence. Finally it will be over. Finally Joanna Leigh will be safe and able to grow up in a normal, nice environment and do all the things she deserves to do.

One Tale’s Dead End

Ours has been a story of a 20-plus-year journey through the cratered, wasted landscape of our daughter’s terrible drug addictions. At times we had to keep ourselves from falling into the abyss; at others we spent our efforts keeping our daughter away from the edge.

The clarity of this new mission nevertheless came with a horrible sadness. After decades of trying, we could do nothing more for our daughter; we had done it all – treatment over and over, counseling, throwing her out of the house, taking her into the house, threats, tough love, caring love, leniency when she stole, calling the police when she stole. Everything. We responded with actions based on what we learned over and over in treatment programs, actions based on law, actions based on love, fear, anger, and determination, actions based on every-which-a-way you can imagine. Nothing worked.

This is how the tale of on-going drug addiction most likely ends – in prison, wasted, or dead. Reaching bottom is deeper than an ocean, and it’s called methamphetamines.

The Zerometh ad campaign is harsh, graphic, and gritty. Unlike the “Just Say No” and other unsuccessful campaigns, it is researched and realistic. Teenagers find it disturbing. Created by d groupe ad agency in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, the campaign was motivated by the awful meth problem in the state and the fact that 80 percent of district attorneys’ prosecutions are for meth and other drug related crimes.

The three-part video series can be viewed at:

Part I -- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S4L52LFjNXs

Part II -- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mEpOVv1B138

Part III -- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U3tqxSADYQ0

Complete: http://www.zerometh.com/

A Long, Winding New Road

The process to be awarded custody of our granddaughter had begun. But what we discovered about this state’s flawed, powerless system and process to protect the children is shocking. The outrage and frustration led me to get in the caseworker’s face and shout, “Zerometh, Zerometh, Zerometh” over and over. We got custody in spite of, not because or with the help of, DHR.

Future Spittin’ Grits posts will describe how we finally were successful in getting custody of our granddaughter. Currently our daughter is off drugs and claims she has been for several months. I have to hope, in spite of her history and the odds, she can finally make it.

Additional links to stories about the Zerometh campaign:

Tuscaloosa News: http://www.tuscaloos


AP wire: http://www.tuscaloosanews.com/article/20080223/NEWS/742798250


Unknown said...

I am the District Attorney in Etowah County who started the ZEROMETH campaign. Thanks for your thoughts about it. I appreciate your tenacity in your journey with your family!!! ZEROMETH is putting together a cookbook...called "Back Around the Table" and it is dedicated to folks like you. The proceeds go towards helping ZEROMETH. I would be honored if you would submit a recipe and a line or to about your struggles!! You can go to our website at www.backaroundthetable.com to submit or send to me at jharp@etowahda.com. Thanks! Jimmie Harp-District Attorney

Ms. Lowry said...

I teach parenting classes, family violence and substance abuse classes to families involved with the Department of Children's and Family, in the state of Florida. Thank you for this site, and for making it known through media. I saw the commercial this evening while watching a show with my daughter...I plan to use the information as a resource for my clients. THANKS SO MUCH!

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