Mothers on meth: New book highlights family struggles in the suburbs

By Eric Schulzke, Deseret News Published: Friday, May 24 2013 11:40 p.m. MDT A few weeks ago,…

Georgia (May 28, 2013)By , Deseret News


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Published: Friday, May 24 2013 11:40 p.m. MDT

A few weeks ago, Kandice Spencer went to Southern California with her two boys and their dad, Waymon. The beach was chilly, Disneyland was fun, but the big hit for the boys, ages 8 and 9, was Universal Studios. A routine family vacation.

But things were not always so routine for this family. Just six years ago, Spencer, now 42, was hooked on meth, writing bad checks and losing custody of her children. Waymon was also dealing and using, and the kids were headed for foster care.

Early in her meth use, Spencer actually thought that the drug was helping her be a better mom. “Initially it makes you feel like you're more effective, only because it gives you more energy. You don't go through the same cycle going to work, coming home, cleaning house and feeling tired. You feel like you have a lot more energy to get things done."

The paradox of the supermom on meth is quite familiar to Miriam Boeri, a sociology professor at Kennesaw State University, whose new book deals with suburban women on meth.

Part gripping reality show, part academic tome, "Women on Ice" shows how women in the Atlanta suburbs get into meth, how some get out, and the dangers that dog them along the way.

More than 12 million Americans have tried methamphetamine, and 1.5 million are regular users, according to federal estimates, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reported. While the precise data is elusive, usage is actually more widespread in rural than urban locations, and the suburbs have long been on the front lines.

Boeri found meth all over the multiple Atlanta suburbs she studied, noting that the housing patterns intermingled low-income trailer parks with high-end developments.

In researching her book, she interviewed 65 women — from college-age social users to middle-class or struggling working-class moms just trying to hold things together.




A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its nearly 43,000 students. With 11 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit