RIVERSIDE — In the summer of 2000, Riverside resident JoDean Waggoner was addicted to methamphetamine. The reality of Waggoner being a drug addict prompted Child Protective Services (CPS) to take custody of her daughter.

With the help of a Department of Public Social Services (DPSS) social worker, seven months later Waggoner freed herself from drug abuse and was capable of parenting her daughter again.

“She (social worker) came to me when I needed her the most,” Waggoner said during a recent video interview. “If it wasn’t for CPS coming into my life, either me or my daughter, or both of us would have been dead somewhere.”

Her story of drug addiction is not unique.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, women face unique issues when it comes to drug and substance use, in part influenced by:

  • sex—differences based on biology
  • gender—differences based on culturally defined roles for men and women

Scientists who study drug and substance use have discovered that women who use drugs can have issues related to hormones, menstrual cycle, fertility, pregnancy, breastfeeding, and menopause. In addition, women themselves describe unique reasons for using drugs, including controlling weight, fighting exhaustion, coping with pain, and attempts to self-treat mental health problems.

What is unique about Waggoner is that today, she is an employee in the DPSS Parent-Partner program. She’s using her drug addiction experience to help other parents facing similar struggles. Her success story would have never been possible without the help of social workers.

You can watch her story here.

March is Social Worker Appreciation Month. There are 971 social workers in Riverside County, including 745 in the Department of Public Social Services who serve both children and adults. Nationwide, there are 642,000 social workers. Social workers empower people with the tools they need to put their lives on a positive track.

Elsewhere in Riverside County, social workers serve in public health, behavioral health, community clinics and medical services within the Riverside University Health System, as well as Office on Aging and the Public Defender’s office. Each of these individuals plays an important role in the development of healthy, safe and thriving communities.


Image Sources

  • Methamphetamine: The Recovery Village