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All across this country in small towns, rural areas and cities, alcoholism and drug abuse are destroying the lives of men, women and their families. Where to turn for help? What to do when friends, dignity and perhaps employment are lost?

The answer is Palm Partners Recovery Center. It’s a proven path to getting sober and staying sober.

Palm Partners’ innovative and consistently successful treatment includes: a focus on holistic health, a multi-disciplinary approach, a 12-step recovery program and customized aftercare. Depend on us for help with:

Alcoholic Liver Disease

 

Alcoholic Liver Disease

Alcohol is toxic to the liver. Drinking heavily over a long period of time can cause damage to the liver. Alcoholic liver disease is disease of the liver caused by heavy drinking. There are several different types of alcoholic liver disease including:

  • Ascites
  • Cirrhosis
  • Bleeding varices
  • Hepatic encephalopathy
  • Chronic hepatitis
  • Fatty liver

Alcoholic liver disease: Causes

Alcoholic liver disease occurs as a result of years of consuming large quantities of liquor. The higher quantity of alcohol consumed and the longer the period of time, the higher the risk for alcoholic liver disease. Certain risk factors, like a family history of liver problems or liver disease can increase the risk of developing alcoholic liver disease.

Alcoholic liver disease: Alcohol and your liver

The liver is the second largest organ in the body. It performs many jobs in the body including breaking down food and eliminating waste and harmful substances from the body. When you drink alcohol, it produces toxins, which the liver must remove from the blood. Alcohol blocks the normal function of the liver by blocking the normal breakdown of proteins, carbs, and fat from food. It also may cause the liver to swell, which can cause scarring. Large quantities of alcohol make the liver work harder to cleanse the blood. When you drink more alcohol than your liver can process, it can cause swelling and scarring to the liver.

Alcoholic liver disease: Types

The most common types of alcoholic liver disease are fatty liver disease, alcoholic hepatitis, and alcoholic cirrhosis.

Fatty liver disease is the buildup of extra fat in the liver cells. It is the earliest stage of alcoholic liver disease. Some fat in the liver is normal, but once it reaches a certain point, the fat interferes with the normal functioning of the liver and can cause scarring and liver cirrhosis. There are usually no symptoms.

Alcoholic hepatitis causes the liver to swell and become damaged. About 35% of drinkers develop alcoholic hepatitis. Symptoms include nausea, lack of appetite, abdominal pain, fever and jaundice.

Alcoholic cirrhosis is the scarring of the liver leading to poor liver function. The scar tissue blocks the flow of blood and slows down the processing of nutrients, hormones and drugs. Liver cirrhosis is generally the end-stage of liver disease and there is no reversing the damage. Treatment consists of preventing complications and progression of the scarring. Sometimes, a liver transplant is the only option. Liver cirrhosis is the 12th leading cause of death by disease. Symptoms of liver cirrhosis are similar to those of alcoholic hepatitis.

Alcoholic liver disease: Treatment

The first treatment of alcoholic liver disease is to stop drinking. This is the ONLY way to reverse liver damage or prevent the disease from getting worse. Once you have cirrhosis, however, you cannot reverse it, you can only prevent further damage by quitting drinking.

Nutrition is also an important factor in treating alcoholic liver disease. Doctors recommend a calorie-rich diet to help the liver regenerate. If the damage is too bad, the only option may be a liver transplant.

If your loved one is in need of addiction treatment, please give us a call at 800-951-6135.

Your Brain on Drugs: Nicotine

Your Brain on Drugs: Nicotine

Nicotine is one the most heavily used and addictive drugs in the United States. Nicotine is also the leading most preventable cause of disease, disability, and death in the United States. Cigarette smoking makes up 90% of lung cancer in the United States, and about 38,000 deaths per year can be contributed to secondhand smoke. Most cigarettes in the United States today contain about 10 milligrams or more of nicotine. The average smoker takes in 1 to 2 milligrams of nicotine per cigarette when inhaling.

What is nicotine?

Nicotine is one of the 4,000 chemicals found in the smoke form of tobacco products. Nicotine is the primary ingredient that acts on the brain. Smokeless tobacco products such as chewing tobacco and snuff also contain many toxins including high levels of nicotine. Nicotine is a naturally occurring colorless liquid that turns brown when it is burned. Nicotine also takes on the odor of tobacco when exposed to air.

Nicotine is absorbed through the skin and mucosal lining of the nose and mouth or in the lungs. Nicotine reaches its peak levels in the bloodstream and brain rapidly depending on how it is taken. Cigarette smoking results in nicotine reaching the brain within ten seconds. Nicotine is very addictive which is why those who smokers tend to do it regularly. Addiction is known as a compulsive drug seeking and uses even at risk of negative health consequences. Most smokers know that nicotine and tobacco is harmful and a lot of them try to quit to no avail.

Nicotine and Acetylcholine

Once nicotine reaches the brain, it triggers a series of responses that alters the way cells in the brain communicate with each other.

Nicotine mimics one of the major neurotransmitters in the brain called acetylcholine. Nicotine acts just like acetylcholine, by binding to receptors that increase the electrical activity of neurons, resulting in more signals transmitted to neighboring neurons. Because nicotine binds to the same receptors that bind acetylcholine, the acetylcholine receptor is often referred to as a nicotinic receptor.

However, when one uses a tobacco product or another nicotine containing product, there is more nicotine available in the synaptic spaces compared to acetylcholine. The nicotine competes with acetylcholine to bind to the nicotinic receptors and it wins. Now, with more nicotinic receptors activated by nicotine, a more intense response is produced.

So while acetylcholine normally provides the just the right amount of alertness when it binds to its receptors, nicotine produces a much more intense response (increased alertness, pleasurable feelings) due to its higher concentrations at the acetylcholine receptors.

How nicotine affects the brain

  • Nicotine causes a rapid release of adrenaline. This causes the smoker to feel a rapid heartbeat, increased blood pressure, rapid, or shallow breathing. Nicotine also blocks the release of the hormone insulin. Nicotine can also increase the metabolic rate slightly too. The brain is the most important aspect for nicotine. Nicotine causes an increased release of acetylcholine from the neurons in the brain. This leads to heightened activity in pathways in the brain. This makes nicotine give someone the ability to pay attention and have a faster reaction time. This is what causes nicotine to give people the feeling of working better.
  • Nicotine also causes a release of glutamate. Glutamate is imperative in learning and memory. When nicotine is used it glutamate creates a memory of the good feelings you get while smoking and further increases the drive and desire to use nicotine.
  • Nicotine also causes your brain to make more endorphins. Endorphins are small proteins that are the body’s natural pain killer.  Endorphins can cause feelings of euphoria. This makes nicotine even more addictive without all the other added effects.
  • Nicotine activates the circuitry that regulates feelings of pleasure; these are known as reward pathways. Nicotine increases the levels of dopamine in reward pathways.  This enhances nicotine’s addicting potential. Smoking a cigarette rapidly distributes nicotine to the brain. In fact nicotine levels peak within 10 seconds of inhaling from a cigarette but then also decrease rapidly. This is what causes smokers to have the need to smoke repeatedly throughout the day.

Quitting nicotine

Quitting nicotine is followed by withdrawal symptoms that can last up to a month or more. These symptoms can cause people to just end up smoking again. Nicotine withdrawal symptoms usually start in a few hours after the last cigarette and can include irritability, sleep disturbances, craving, cognitive and attention deficits, and increased appetite. Nicotine withdrawal symptoms usually peak within the first few days and will subside within a few weeks although for some people they can last much longer.

For some people, the feel, smell and sight of a cigarette and the ritual of obtaining, handling, lighting and smoking it are all associated with the pleasurable effects of smoking and can make withdrawal or craving worse. While nicotine gum and patches may alleviate the pharmacological aspects of withdrawal, cravings often persist.

More consequences of nicotine use

Nicotine and cigarette smoking has more consequences than those just on the brain. The medical consequences of nicotine result from the nicotine itself and how it is taken. Tobacco use accounts for 1/3rd of all cancers. Here are some other medical consequences due to nicotine and cigarette smoking:

  • Lung diseases such as chronic bronchitis and emphysema
  • Worsening asthma symptoms
  • Cancers of the mouth, kidney, esophagus, pharynx, larynx, stomach, pancreas, cervix, ureter, and bladder.
  • Risk of heart disease including stroke, vascular disease, heart attack and aneurysm.
  • Passive or secondary smoke increases risk for many diseases too.

If your loved one is in need of addiction treatment, please give us a call at 800-951-6135.

Sources:

http://science.howstuffworks.com/nicotine4.htm
http://rise.duke.edu/seek/pages/page.html?0105

Are you headed towards a relapse?

Are you headed towards a relapse?

Are you headed towards a relapse?

Unfortunately, many drug addicts and alcoholics in recovery end up relapsing. Every once in a while, I will meet someone who was a “white chip wonder”; meaning that they’ve only picked up one newcomer chip and have maintained sobriety ever since. There’s a reason these people are called “wonders.” Most people don’t stay sober the first time around. Some get caught in an endless cycle of relapse, treatment, and short periods of sobriety before they finally “get it.”

Contrary to what some people think, relapses do not just happen out of the blue. In fact, if you were to ask a recovering addict and alcoholic about their last relapse, they can usually identify a pattern of behavior that led up to the actual act of using a drug or drinking. Here are some signs you are headed towards a relapse.

1. You stop doing the things that got you sober

One of the first things that happens when you are headed towards a relapse is that you stop going to meetings and stop helping others. Usually, there is some justification of this behavior. You may tell yourself you are “too busy” or you may blame other people in the community: you don’t like the fact people pray or everyone talks too much about their past substance abuse.

However, once you’ve worked 12 steps, you don’t go to meetings to listen to the speaker or other people in the meeting. Your purpose is to go to meetings to help other alcoholics, and to create a fellowship for the newcomer. Even if you haven’t worked 12 steps, the most important thing about meetings is to be helpful to others in recovery. Even someone with 30 days can help the person with one day. As for being “too busy” to sponsor or go to meetings, remember your priorities. Recovery is more important than anything else you have to do, because you don’t have anything else if you don’t have sobriety.

2. You stop praying and meditating

Conscious contact with a higher power is crucial for an addict or alcoholic in recovery. Usually when you are headed towards a relapse, you stop praying and meditating. You may, again, think you are “too busy” or you may have resentment towards a higher power. When we lose that conscious contact with a higher power, we begin to feel restless, irritable and discontent. We seek other things to fill that spiritual void like shopping, sex, attention, or food. These things do not last in the long term.

3. You stop taking your inventory

When we are caught up in fear, resentment, selfishness, or dishonesty, we are supposed to immediately ask God to remove it, call someone and tell them, make amends quickly if we owe them, and turn our attention to helping others. This is how we keep these negative feelings from building up, and how we keep ourselves unblocked from God. When we aren’t constantly checking our behavior, it is easy to get into a very unspiritual and negative mindset. We often start acting out at this point without noticing the underlining behaviors such as gossip, anger, deceit, and righteousness. We nurture our resentments and start keeping secrets.

Be mindful of your thoughts, actions and the kind of program you’re working. Relapsing can be prevented but you must be 100% conscious of what it is you’re feeling and doing. If you feel like you’re heading towards a relapse pick up the phone and call your sponsor, a friend in recovery, or your bestfriend. Call someone that you know works a solid program and can help you get back on track.

If you’re a Palm Partners Alumni and feel you might be headed towards a relapse please contact our Alumni team.

Alumni Department

Tim Price – Alumni Outreach Coordinator

Feel free to call or e-mail 24 hours a day/7 days a week.

Julia Davies – Alumni Coordinator

Feel free to call or e-mail 24 hours a day/7 days a week.

  • Contact me with anything from just saying hello, event inquiries, referring a loved one, or questions about getting involved with our Alumni program.
  • Call me at (202) -494-0627
  • jdavies@palmpartners.com

If your loved one is in need of addiction treatment, please give us a call at 800-951-6135.

Your Brain on Drugs: LSD

Your Brain on Drugs: LSD Myths

There are many myths about the effects LSD has on the brain. One popular legend is that if you do LSD a certain number of times, you will be declared “legally insane” or develop Schizophrenia.  Another is that once you’ve tried LSD, your body retains small amounts of LSD in your spinal fluid which it releases sporadically. Then there are the stories of people on LSD that walk in front of cars or jump off cliffs because they think can fly. Some of these myths are true – like people accidentally walking in front of traffic or drowning due to loss of inhibition which directly affects their judgment.  Some of these are myths or have yet to be scientifically proven to be true; like your body retaining small amounts of LSD after taking it. Both have contributed to the misunderstandings in popular culture of what LSD actually does to the brain.

Your Brain on Drugs: LSD Facts

It’s believed that LSD works similarly to serotonin, a neurotransmitter responsible for regulating moods, appetite, muscle control, sexuality, sleep and sensory perception. LSD seems to interfere with the way the brain’s serotonin’s receptors work. It may inhibit neurotransmission, stimulate it, or both. It also affects the way that the retinas process information and conduct that information to the brain.

Your Brain on Drugs: LSD Effects

The effects of LSD are highly subjective. LSD’s effects vary from person to person depending on dose, age, and life experience. Most users experience strong sensory and visual distortion. Colors may seem brighter, patterns could seem to “breathe” and users can experience an altered sense of time. LSD may also impair judgment and the ability to perceive danger, so accidents on LSD are common. Many LSD users are taking the drug while already using other drugs like alcohol, prescription pills, heroin or cocaine. The mixture of LSD and other drugs can cause extreme trips that can onset psychosis or underlying mental illnesses like Schizophrenia.

Your Brain on Drugs: LSD and Addiction

LSD is not physically addictive. LSD tolerance can develop and cause the user to take a stronger dose each time, but physical withdrawal symptoms from LSD are rare when use is stopped. Since addicts crave dependability and are constantly chasing a greater “high” repeated LSD trips tend to lose their novelty, and what once seemed magical becomes every day and commonplace.

Your Brain on Drugs: LSD and “Bad Trips”

It is quite possible to have a bad reaction to LSD. This is referred to as a “bad trip” and may cause panic, confusion, suspicion, anxiety, and loss of control. Very high doses or LSD containing other chemicals and drugs increase the likelihood of a bad trip. Because street drugs are not legal and therefore not regulated, it is not uncommon for dealers to sell chemicals that are not LSD at all. These chemicals can also cause a bad trip.

Your Brain on Drugs: LSD and Mental Illness

While there is no evidence that LSD causes brain damage of any kind, some LSD users experience severe, frightening thoughts and feelings, fear of losing control, fear of insanity and death, and despair while using LSD; causing anxiety, panic attacks, or full blown mental psychosis. Whether LSD causes mental illness on its own, or if it simply exacerbates an underlying mental condition, is still debated among experts. However, the effects of this LSD-induced psychosis, though very rare, can be permanent.

Your Brain on Drugs: LSD and “Flashbacks”

Some users report having “acid flashbacks” for months or years after taking LSD. Flashbacks are a recurrence of some part of the experience of the trip, without having taking the drug again. A small percentage of LSD users experience what is known as Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder.  People suffering from this syndrome experience a form of visual hallucination (or flashbacks) that are persistent, instead of momentary.

Your Brain on Drugs: Bottom Line

LSD does not cause immediate brain damage or physical addiction but it can onset underlying mental illness. It is not retained in the body indefinitely but in rare cases can contribute to an accidental death. These rare cases of people falling to their death while tripping on LSD were likely either suicides or accidents caused by disorientation or misjudgment of distance, rather than an attempt to “fly.” LSD has been used in the past to treat alcoholism, mental illness and is now being researched to improve the quality of life of terminal ill patients.

If your loved one is in need of addiction treatment, please give us a call at 800-951-6135.

Sources:

http://www.druglibrary.org/schaffer/library/studies/cu/cu50.html
http://serendip.brynmawr.edu/exchange/node/1880
http://science.howstuffworks.com/lsd4.htm

 

Cutting and Self-Harm: Warning Signs and Treatment

 Cutting and Self Harm

 

Cutting and Self-Harm: Warning Signs and Treatment

Earlier this month, self-harm made headlines due to the now-infamous “Cut for Bieber” movement. It all started when TMZ posted pictures of pop-star Justin Bieber smoking something that may or may not have been marijuana. Online practical jokers jumped on the story and suggested that fans start a “Cut for Bieber” campaign to persuade the star to stop using drugs. (For those that don’t know, “cutting” involves self-mutilation, often with razor blades, and generally along the wrists or forearms.) Some legitimate fans heard about it and started posting photos on social media of wounds they had inflicted on themselves. The photos have been “liked” and “shared” thousands of times. Many are outraged and say that this prank undermines the real emotional issues behind cutting and self-harm.

Cutting and Self-Harm: Is it suicide?

Cutting and self-harm is not a suicide attempt, even though it can sometimes be an unintended consequence. Cutting is a form of self-abuse. The person is literally making small cuts on his or her body. Self-harm generally starts in the early teen years and can persist for years. It becomes a way of dealing with emotional pain. For cutters, self-injury is a way of coping with feelings like sadness, self-loathing, emptiness and rage. Cutting can release endorphins, much like addictive drugs, that create a feel-good feeling.

Cutting and Self-Harm: What does it mean?

Self-harm refers to anything a person does to intentionally injure themselves. Cutting is a specific form of self-harm. Here are the common ways that people engage in self harm:

  • Cutting or severely scratching skin
  • Burning or scalding
  • Hitting oneself
  • Throwing body against walls or hard objects
  • Punching things
  • Sticking objects into the skin
  • Picking scabs or otherwise preventing wounds from healing
  • Swallowing poisonous substances
  • Putting oneself in harm’s way by driving recklessly, drinking heavily and/or taking too many drugs, or having unsafe sex

Cutting and Self-Harm: Warning signs?

Clothing can often hide physical injuries, so cutting and self-harm can be hard to detect. Here are some warning signs you can look out for.

  • Unexplained wounds or scars
  • Blood stains on clothing, towels, or bedding
  • Sharp objects or cutting instruments
  • Frequent “accidents”
  • Covering up with long sleeves and long pants, even in warm weather
  • Isolation

Cutting and Self-Harm: Who’s cutting?

According to parenting.org :

  • 79 percent of self-injury callers are under 18
  • 9 percent of self-injury callers are between 19 and 23
  • 85 percent of self-injury callers are female
  • Females who are 18 or younger make up 67 percent of all self-injury callers

Cutting and Self-Harm: Treatment

Cutting and self-harm usually covers up an underlying emotional or psychological problem. Many people who self-harm suffer from anxiety, depression, or a previous trauma. Often, the self-harm is used to cope with negative feelings and emotions. Therapy can be very beneficial to those who self-harm. A qualified therapist or psychiatrist can determine whether or not the patient has an underlying mental health disorder. Also, therapy provides a venue in which a person engaging in cutting or self-harm can explore past trauma. Although Abuse during childhood and bereavement are common social factors in cutters. Substance abuse is also highly associated with self-harming behavior. Alcohol is a factor in over half of all self-harm presentations at hospitals. Therapy is also a good place to learn more constructive means of dealing with emotional or psychological distress.

If your loved one is in need of drug and alcohol addiction treatment and has symptoms of self-harm please give us a call at 800-951-6135.

Sources:
http://www.helpguide.org/mental/self_injury.htm
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/christian-piatt/cut-for-bieber-how-did-we-get-here_b_2435373.html
http://www.parenting.org/article/cutting-and-self-injury-we-can-help

 

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