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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:

Controversial Blog Highlights Stigma Behind Mental Illness

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Author: Shernide Delva

A controversial blog is making its rounds on the internet this week, and it reminds us that mental illness stigma remains a real and grave problem.  Considering May is National Mental Health Awareness Month, it makes sense that a topic like this is gaining so much attention. A popular blogger, Amanda Lauren, wrote about how she felt the death of her friend was “a blessing” because she suffered from mental illness.

Lauren went on to say that because of her friend’s schizoaffective disorder, she has “nothing to live for” and that it appeared she had been taken over by a “demon.” The blog continues describing her former friend as “hopeless” and she ends with saying how relieved she was when she heard about her death.

“It sounds horrible to say, but her death wasn’t a tragedy, her life was…Schizoaffective disorder robbed her of reaching her potential…She was alone and terribly unhappy when died…This girl had nothing to live for,” she writes.

Needless to say, readers were not happy. Mental illness is something that affects 1 in 5 adults in the United States. That means 43.8 million, or 18.5% of the population experiences mental illness in a given year.  Those are the facts. For a writer like Lauren to decide that her former friend was better off dead because of her mental illness is very irresponsible. Many with mental illness feel like death is the only way out. They could read an article like the one Lauren wrote and feel  they are worthless to society. They may conclude that suicide is the only answer.

Stop Feeding the Stigma

Suicide is not the right answer. Education is. Mental health issues like depression and schizophrenia can be treated with the right medication and counseling. For example, Elyn Sak, a mental health scholar, talks about how schizophrenia almost ruined her life before getting treatment.  In a popular Ted talk, Saks says her chronic schizophrenia resulted in her spending hundreds of days in a psychiatric hospital.

Saks said she feared having to spend her entire life in the mental hospital. However, that did not happen. In fact, for almost three decades, Saks managed to stay out of hospitals. She graduated from Yale Law school and got her first law job. Saks is now a successful speaker and professor. She admits that if she could make her illness go away with a pill, she would take it in a heartbeat. However, she cannot.

“I don’t wish to be seen as regretting the life I could have had if I’d not been mentally ill, nor am I asking anyone for their pity. What I rather wish to say is that the humanity we all share is more important than the mental illness we may not. What those of us who suffer with mental illness want is what everybody wants: in the words of Sigmund Freud, “to work and to love.”

Sak’s journey is a powerful one, but more importantly, it teaches that those with mental illness are not hopeless. Their life is not useless nor are they just ticking time bombs whom would be better off dead. Their death is not a blessing. Their life is a blessing.

The key to overcoming mental illness is forgiveness. Chicago-based actor/artist Elizabeth Hipwell describes how learning to forgive her mind was the greatest thing she could have done for herself.

“I decided to focus that energy on myself to heal. Maybe I did need to be ‘selfish’ as the naysayers put it and make myself a priority. I decided to reject the shame that they placed on me and be gentle with myself, forgive myself for being sick. I am by no means a victim, and I hold no grudges. In hindsight, I understand that the reaction people had stemmed from fear and lack of knowledge.”

The fear behind mental illnesses can be traced far back into history. While efforts have been made to reduce the stigma, the truth is it is a scary disease.  The key is understanding the reasons behind why the mind behaves the way it does. In the same way, addiction is an illness; We need to see mental health issues for what they are: illnesses.

Today marks that last day of Mental Health Awareness month, however being aware of mental health illnesses should be a requirement every day of the year. No one should feel he or she are “better off dead” because of his or her mental challenges. Nor should anyone struggling to overcome an addiction feel hopeless. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.

Could This New App Save Addicts When They Overdose?

Could This New App Save Addicts When They Overdose?

Author: Justin Mckibben

The year is 2016, and pretty much everyone you know who is old enough to use a phone has one in their pocket that can play their favorite music, make credit card purchases with codes and scanners, and help them switch their face with someone else’s for a pretty awkward selfie. These digital devices have so much capacity with the infinitely expanding market of apps available to them, but could a new app save addicts when they overdose on drugs?

The Opiate Community

One major key to avoiding a fatal overdose is to never use alone, because too often an addict will use drugs while no one else is around to notice when they become incoherent and unconscious. Without someone present to revive an addict who overdoses the chances that they could die getting high… are pretty high. As the opiate epidemic in America has spiraled out of control for these past few years, there has actually been many shifts in mentality toward harm reduction tactics and users have actually created support communities specifically for active users.

The social media site Reddit has a subculture of its own in an open community under the designation “/r/opiates” where people with firsthand experience with opiate abuse and addiction share information. These individuals often offer each other safety tips, like the risks associated with use or even warnings of where more deadly batches of laced heroin are circulating.

Chris Oelerich, who is not actually a heroin user himself, decided to develop an app to try and prevent continued overdose deaths. In his process of designing the app he reached out to this Subreddit community and was given some useful information on how to make an effective app for opiate addicts.

The Remote Egg Timer App

Now I know this name sounds kind of random and no one would guess it was created to prevent drug overdose… but that is exactly the point. The Remote Egg Timer app title actually came from the opiates Subreddit, where one Redditor wrote,

“Can you call it a remote egg timer or some sh**? Call mom when the eggs are fried? References to your brain on drugs or some shit but don’t say anything about drugs?? This needs to be in place!!!!!!!!”

The app operates as a distress beacon of sorts, mixed with an alarm clock. The intention is that before the user actually uses they will set a timer. Once the timer is up the individual must push a button to indicate they are still responsive. If they do not respond to their time, the app will automatically send an emergency text message to a designating an emergency contact from their phone they have already set up.

When addicts are using such powerful drugs alone they are at a very serious risk, but this app hopes to support revival tactics such as naloxone expansion programs and otherwise give people a resource for quickly connecting with first responders. Similar apps have been released in the past few years for people who drink alcohol, designed to prevent drunk driving and other risk situations that arise while intoxicated.

Could It Work?

When Oelerich first put the concept for the app to the opiate users on Reddit, it was a well-received idea.  While the app is by no means a perfect system and experiences a few bugs, most of the users so far have given the app positive reviews according to Oelerich. Currently the developer is trying to incorporate new ways for the app to be even more effective, such as:

  • Feature to detect movement. This feature would trigger an emergency contact message if the phone has not moved for a while, which could also be a good indicator the user is unresponsive from an overdose.
  • Feature in the works is to give the GPS coordinates of the user. When the alarm is not acknowledged and the distress signal goes out from the app, the text would somehow provide the users location so the best response can be properly timed.

So could an app like this work? Is it a fair assumption that while not all opiate and heroin addicts use in groups, they could have a better chance if another person was present during an overdose? Is it fair to say that if no one can be right there with them that they might have a better chance of getting the help they need with a resource that utilizes technology most people have?

Sure, not everyone has a smartphone. But for those who do, could an app like this make a difference? Would YOU use it for yourself or a loved one?

Technology helps us with a lot in our lives today. We constantly see new innovations that are making lives easier and safer, so what does technology have to offer for the addict who still suffers? Harm reduction is helping preserve life, and innovative and effective treatments help save lives. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135

Darkness After the Diploma: 7 Ways to Overcome Post-College Depression

Darkness after the Diploma: 7 Ways to Overcome Post-College Depression

(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)

Author: Shernide Delva

Yay! You graduated college!  Diploma in hand ready to go…

Wait, now what?

That exact question is what college graduates struggle to cope with. Post-college depression is an issue often underestimated and not discussed enough. However,post-college depression can lead to many unhealthy behaviors because of the insecurity and disappointment of entering the real world.

For many, college is a time to make friends, socialize and finish school. Your life is a bit of an educational bubble. You are an adult, yet your routines revolve around your class schedules.  There is no need to think about major life decisions, and maybe you brushed things off declaring that you would face those obstacles “after graduation.”

Then graduation happens and the questions swirl. “What am I going to do with my life?” Alternatively, “Will I ever be able to support myself financially?” and even worse “Was this investment worth it?”  Of course, everyone is different. Personally, I have no regrets about going to college, but I do struggle with patience and motivation.

Post-college depression is unlike regular depression. Typically, post-college depression has different symptoms than actual clinical depression. Nonetheless, if left unaddressed, it becomes harder to overcome.

Symptoms of Post-College Depression

  • Addiction:  In college, it may have been normal to go to the occasional crazy party, however after college; some people become addicted to drugs and alcohol to fill the voids in their life. Drinking and drugs become more than just a fun night out. It becomes a full blown addiction.
  • Fear:  After college, many hesitate to take the next step into their career. For example, you may feel the fear that you will fail and not be successful. Because of this fear, you may avoid getting a stable job, buying a house or making major career decisions. Ultimately, fear prevents you from moving forward. Depression can become worse once a person realizes it has been a year or two post-college and little has been accomplished.
  • Loneliness:  It is very common to feel lonely after college.  In college, you may have had a group of classmates you saw on a daily basis. Maybe you were in clubs and loved going to the campus gym. Now college is over, and your life is nowhere near the same. Your classmates are moving away for job opportunities, and life is staring you in the eyes. Feelings of intense loneliness can be overwhelming during this timeframe.
  • Unemployment: The biggest reason for depression after college is the lack of a job. This is a very common symptom. Learning your major was one thing, finding a job in your major is whole other ball field.  When the economy is on a decline, it can feel overwhelming trying to find a financially stable job in your major. After months of trying, depression may set in, and you feel hopeless and like a failure. Hang in there and keep trying. This is a very common symptom and just means it is time to consider all your options, even options you would never have considered before. Opening your mind is crucial during this time.

After college, the structure and stability you’ve grown accustomed to are over. The transition can be a piece of cake for some; however others struggle with functioning after college is over.  Also, college is a time where depression rates peak and leaving college can make pre-existing clinical depression worse.

How to Overcome Post-College Depression

Now that we know all the reasons for post-college depression, the next step is to understand how to overcome it.  Here are seven suggestions to get you on the right path:

  1. Get a Job: I know, easier said than done. However, this is a crucial problem holding you back from feeling secure in your life. If you have not found a way of making income, take the time to figure out how to do so. Your first job out of college may not be in your field, and that is okay. Life may go in another direction from what you studied at first, but the important thing is to keep your mind open to opportunities. Be creative and find something for now.
  2. Meet New People: Losing friends after college can be a bummer. The good news is you can still meet new people outside of campus. Work on your socialization skills during this time. Not only is it perfect for making new friends, but it helps with networking. Putting yourself out there is a significant step in overcoming the post-college blues.
  3. Join Clubs: You can still be in clubs even outside of college. There are plenty of adult groups you can find on social networking websites like Facebook and Meetup. Find a weekly group that focuses on an interest you have. Join a yoga class or volunteer in your community. There is no reason that these activities should stop once you are handed your diploma.
  4. Set Goals: Setting goals is the best way to overcome depression because it gives you a perspective on where your life is headed. Start out by setting small goals and accomplish them. Then set bigger goals and make a schedule on how to work on those goals each day. Goals help you feel a sense of purpose in your life, instead of feeling hopeless.
  5. Check in with Old Friends: Guess what? If you are feeling this low after college, chances are your friends are too. Try talking to old friends. Go out for dinner or coffee with some classmates and talk about the challenges you all are having with life after college. You all are going through the same thing and can help each other deal.
  6. Focus on the Present: Staying in the present is the best thing you can do for yourself. Comparing yourself to others is a recipe for disaster. Someone is always going to be doing better, and vice versa. Think about what you can do in the moment to make yourself happier. Maybe travel for a day or go to the beach. Just because your life is not where you wanted does not mean you cannot enjoy where you are now.
  7. Try Therapy: If your depression is becoming unmanageable, seek help. There is no reason to live life in darkness. People around you may think you are going through a normal phase of post-college life, but you know if your symptoms are becoming severe. There is no shame is seeking help from a professional. Medication may be an option for you if you need it. If you are more into natural routes, try to look up holistic treatment options for depression.  There is no shame in feeling out of control. You are not alone.

Overall, if you are struggling with post-college depression, understand that plenty of people struggle with this condition. Post College is a fantastic time because you are growing and learning about yourself. It can also be a struggle. Do not fall into unhealthy coping mechanisms. Talk to someone about your depression and addiction issues. We can help.  Please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.

Is It Okay For Sober People To Be Sexy?

Is It Okay For Sober People To Be Sexy?

(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)

Author: Justin Mckibben

Recently a post came across my news-feed on Facebook about how a motorcycle works company was holding a contest for voters to help determine which female models they should add to their crew of models called “Rehab Girls.” The person who posted the article was concerned about the content and used words like “opportunism” and “hypersexual” when describing the article with their disgruntled initial reaction to the contest.

Later the individual explained they had been contacted by the models and told the title “Rehab Girls” was not literally saying the models were in or from a rehab, but it was a play on words because of the motorcycle shop’s name. This led to the topic of discussing stigmatized language.

Eventually the debate from both sides had me wondering if we should be talking about- is it okay to show sober people’s sexy side?

Hypersexual?

Now first, set aside the “13th step” concept and be open to this conversation.

As one person in the comment thread plainly put it- sex sells. All around America every single day we see that in our society sexual innuendo and risqué rhetoric are utilized by the media and by corporations to get people’s attention and push their product.

No matter how you slice it, our world has a consistent degree of hypersexual activity in one shape or another, so it should come as no surprise that every one of us wants to show our sexy side sometimes. This begs the question- is it really so much worse when people are in recovery? Why is it okay for the average man or women to be an underwear model, but the addict or alcoholic in recovery shouldn’t?

Some would say because of our compulsive behaviors we are in danger of seeking out a new source of instant gratification in sex; that sex and lusting after one another can overrun our senses with an alternative sense of euphoria. Then that could lead to more harmful and risky behaviors.

Focusing on self-worth and building a healthy relationship with ourselves is so important, so some would claim that sex should be off the table for those early recovery. Some would insist that if you are newly clean and sober that you are far too sensitive and vulnerable to be with another person in any healthy way while still reestablishing your life.

And in some ways, this makes sense.

Abstinence in Recovery

Honestly, as someone in recovery I can say that taking time off from trying to be sexy when I got sober was important. Reconnecting with the person I had forgotten to be for so long was a pretty difficult process, and I can’t imagine trying to do that and simultaneously trying to create a legitimate relationship. All that just was beyond my means at the time.

But keep in mind that not everyone experiences things the way I do; some people do just fine without that ME-time. It was just something I needed.

For me, experience also showed that much like with drugs, merely abstaining from sex was not enough. I had to gradually develop the type of man I wanted to be with another person, which took serious self-appraisal and action. Still to this day I believe my sexual relationships have not all been healthy, but I don’t think it’s because I’m an addict- I think it’s because I’m a young human adult and I make mistakes.

My Opinion: Freedom of Sexy Expression

What it really comes down to, in my own opinion, is this:

Are you in a healthy place, and how do YOU want to express it?

That is it… in the fellowship of recovery I attend, this qualifies as an outside issue when working with others. As men and women in recovery once we have found a solution in our lives that helps us work on ourselves we should be free to model and act as sexy as we want. Sure, our behaviors may sometimes create circumstances that are less than perfect for being sober, but we do not hide from the world and from who we are. In recovery we are given this new freedom and new happiness we hear so much about, and if that means a man or woman wants to pose for a calendar and try their best strut on the catwalk (yeah, yeah, the catwalk) then it is absolutely their choice regardless of what their sobriety date is.

Sure- some might worry about others exploiting people in recovery who are still sick. I’m not saying there isn’t a scenario where this could go horribly wrong and someone with a camera couldn’t use desperate people for their work. There should be a level of tastefulness and accountability, but why should we be extra sensitive to people in the peaks of their recovery when they want to celebrate their body or their unique style?

In reality THIS is how you shatter a stigma- by not allowing people to say this person can’t be sexy or shouldn’t be able to model because they are an addict or alcoholic. We shatter stigma by tearing down barriers, not building more to set us apart from everyone else. There are dozens of social media networks and websites, even clothing brands that highlight the sexy side of sobriety. WE ARE BEAUTIFUL. Being sober is NOT a disadvantage- it is a victory.

So please… get my good side.

Being sexy should not be the priority in sobriety, but nobody should feel like they don’t have the right to be sexy because they’re sober. Face it people, sober is sexy! Is it wrong to take people who are still addicted or people who are struggling to stay sober and exploit them by sexual means? OF COURSE! But with real recovery comes real freedom of self-expression. If you are trying to find a place to let that real recovery begin, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135

 

Is Addiction an Attachment Disorder?

Is Addiction an Attachment Disorder?

(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)

Author: Shernide Delva

There are many theories on why some people struggle with addiction and others do not. Some say it is due to environmental factors while others point to biological changes in the brain. It will take more time to understand addiction entirely. However, each day researchers learn more about it. One of the theories being suggested is the attachment theory of addiction. This theory delves into addiction from birth and says that life circumstances lead children to develop a survival mechanism that encourages them to seek outside nurturement. If a child is not getting the attention they need, they attach to something that will fulfill that need. Could this attachment be related to addiction?

What is the Framework of Attachment Theory?

To understand the attachment theory of addiction, we must define it and understand how it works. The attachment theory states that children who do not grow up in a secure environment learn unhealthy attachment skills. Therefore, in treating addiction, it is critical that treatment provides a model of secure attachment, so individuals can understand how to respond to pain and discomfort other than acting out in addictive behaviors.

As humans, we have a longer period of dependency on caregivers, more than any other mammal. Not only do we need our caregivers for food and safety, but for emotional connection, affection and love. When we are infants, we naturally turn to our caregiver in times of distress. Babies cry, and they learn they have support when they need it.

Here is what it looks like when secure attachment does not happen: Baby is upset and turns to their caregiver for comfort and connection. However, instead of their needs being addressed, the baby is ignored, left alone or abused for having needs. Over time, this patterns results in the child learning not to turn to their caregiver in times of distress.   The child will stop seeking care and comfort from their caregiver, and instead, look for ways to regulate and self-soothe from the outside world.

This period in life is where some researchers believe addictions starts to develop. As a child grows in this unhealthy attachment environment, they learn not to turn to humans for care and comfort. Instead, they seek alternatives. Addictions to drugs, food, and rituals around food like over- or under-eating become coping mechanism for replacing security a secure attachment would have provided.

The Internal Working Model

Furthermore, in infancy, a child learns necessary skills for survival and develops what the attachment theory calls an Internal Working Model (IWM). Our IWM helps us find out how to view the world and ourselves. A child’s IWM is dependent on their upbringing. The theory argues that a child’s attachment style has a significant impact on whether they will develop a substance abuse dependency.

To fully understand unhealthy attachment, you should first understand secure attachment. Secure attachment is when a caretaker shows awareness of a child’s emotions and quickly attends to the child when they are distressed. The theory suggests that when a child is properly taken care of, they feel free to explore the world and acquire independence because they develop a sense of certainty that their caretaker will be there if anything goes wrong. They rarely feel uncertain or insecure in their independent journey because they know they have a caretaker there if needed.

However, if the attachment system a child has growing up is deficient, the child will struggle with emotional regulation as an adult. Children raised in an insecure environment grow up learning to blame themselves when they are unable to provide for their emotional needs on their own. Instead of developing security in a healthy manner, they will use addictive substances or behavior to define comfort and safety.  The use of addictive substances and behaviors will lead to continued dysfunction and continued addictiveness.

Treating Addictiveness through Attachment-Oriented Therapy

Recent studies positively confirm a link between insecure attachment and substance dependence. Fortunately, there is hope. “Attachment-Oriented Therapy” or AOT is a way of “eliciting, integrating and modifying styles represented within a person’s internal working model.” (Flores 2004). The therapy works to shift the internal working model an addict has acquired to self-sooth since childhood.

The point of the therapy is to teach those struggling with addiction how to regulate their emotions and feelings, so they avoid seeking outside sources as a means of managing their emotions.  Addicts learn how to explore the deeper problem of why exactly they use their addictive behavior to escape their emotional pain and where this method of survival was rooted.

AOT is rooted in providing a way for individuals to explore themselves from the inside out. Attachment theory states that a model is necessary for patients to understand how to stop seeking answers on the outside and learn to heal. By providing a haven for addicts to learn to feel and express emotions, a better solution can be found.

Learning how to regulate emotions and self-sooth are skills that we develop from infancy. Therapies like AOT help in reestablishing methods of secure attachment. If you struggle with managing your emotions, seeking help is the first step. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.

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