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House Representatives Join Opposition to Delay Ban of Kratom

House Representatives Join Opposition And Urge Delay of Kratom Ban

Author: Shernide Delva

Recently, we wrote about how the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) made the controversial decision to ban kratom by making it a Schedule I drug. While the ban is set to go into effect by the end of this week, advocates of the herbal supplement refuse to go down without a fight. A bipartisan group of 51 House lawmakers recently joined the chorus of opposition to the DEA’s upcoming ban.

To give a quick overview:  Back in late August, the DEA announced it would prohibit kratom due to various reports of health implications associated with the use of the drug. The ban would temporarily add Kratom to the schedule 1 category of narcotics along with substances like Marijuana, heroin, and LSD.

The DEA made it clear the decision was due to kratom’s high potential for abuse and the lack of medical benefit of the drug. However, advocates passionately argue that kratom is useful for drug withdrawal and mental health issues like anxiety and depression.

Therefore, placing kratom in the schedule 1 category would effectively ban it from those who regularly use the drug. Many users find the drug useful in treating, pain, depression, high blood pressure among other ailments.

The ban sparked a broad range of controversy. Now, members of Congress have joined the chorus of opposition. A bipartisan group of 51 House Representatives just signed a letter urging DEA Administrator Chuck Rosenberg to delay the ban.

 “As our nation continues to combat the public health crisis of opioid abuse, the federal government has invested significant resources to develop alternative pain management strategies,” reads the letter.

The letter urged the delay to continue the federally funded study of kratom as a possible treatment option for opioid withdrawal. By placing kratom on the Schedule I category, the letter states it will “put a halt on federally funded research and innovation surrounding the treatment of individuals suffering from opioid and other addictions.”

While kratom is not for everyone, many find it a compelling alternative to prescription drugs.  Earlier this month, Susan Ash, founder of the American Kratom Association, revealed that her organization has been receiving thousands of calls from people across the United States concerned about losing kratom and resorting to prescription drugs instead.

“I am completely swamped,” Ash told The Fix. “I have thousands of people afraid of relapse. People are explicitly telling us they are terrified of losing their quality of life or even their lives.”

51 House Representatives Urges Delay On Ban

The House representatives’ letter to the DEA urges them to delay the ban and allow more time to consult with “consumers, researcher, and other stakeholders.”  When the ban was initially passed, the DEA did not allow any opposition in regards to their decision to ban kratom.

Instead, the DEA argued their decision was valid by citing a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention which stated that kratom poisoning was the cause for 660 calls to poison centers across the country between 2010 and 2015.  The DEA argued that these numbers clearly indicated the need for the ban. They also pointed to 16 reported kratom-related deaths between 2014 and 2016 to further justify their decision.

Still, these numbers are far overshadowed by other drugs, both legal and illegal. Those in opposition point to the numbers of calls the poison control center receives over laundry pod poisonings. These calls far surpass the number of calls they receive in regards to kratom. Both the House lawmakers and kratom advocates think it is not a good idea to restrict access to Kratom when so many people are searching for safer pain relief alternatives rather than prescription pills.

“This hasty decision could have serious effects on consumer access and choice of an internationally recognized herbal supplement,” the lawmakers wrote in their letter.

Kratom does have the potential for abuse. However, it does have potential medical benefits. While the use of any drug is not ideal, the reality is harm reduction remains a crucial topic of discussion. Further research is needed before a ban on kratom is made. Do you agree with the ban?

Overall, if you are struggling with any substance abuse, legal or illegal, you need to research out for treatment. We have the tools to help in your recovery. Do not wait. Call today.

   CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135

Canada Approves Prescription Heroin to Control Drug Addiction

Canada Approves Prescription Heroin to Control Drug Addiction

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

Author: Shernide Delva

Canada has taken a controversial approach to fighting heroin addiction. The  Canadian government has just quietly approved a new drug regulation that will permit doctors to prescribe pharmaceutical-grade heroin to severe addicts.  Essentially, Canada’s strategy for treating addicts resistant to other forms of treatment is simple: let them have heroin.

While this is a first for Canada, other countries have similar programs. The approved regulation ensures that Canada’s trail-blazing clinic, Crosstown, in Vancouver, will be able to expand their special heroin-maintenance programs. These programs allow addicts to come and go as many as three times a day to receive prescription heroin from a nurse for free.

Back in May 2016, Canada was in the beginning stages of legalizing prescription heroin. Health Canada explained in a news release:

“A significant body of scientific evidence supports the medical use of diacetylmorphine, also known as pharmaceutical-grade heroin, for the treatment of chronic relapsing opioid dependence,”

Health Canada continued stating they were considering the idea of legalizing prescription heroin since several other countries have used it and found it effective.

“Diacetylmorphine is permitted in a number of other jurisdictions, such as Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark, and Switzerland, to support a small percentage of patients who have not responded to other treatment options, such as methadone and buprenorphine.”

Lowering the Cost of Addiction?

Furthermore,  Dr. Scott Macdonald, a physician with Crosstown Clinic, explained that heroin maintenance programs are much cheaper for taxpayers than paying for the cost of drug addiction. A person battling drug addiction can cost the tax base $45,000 Canadian Dollars (around $35,000 in U.S. dollars)  per year in crime costs, health care costs and more. On the other hand, prescription heroin in a Vancouver clinic costs around $27,000 or $21,000 in American Dollars.

The government ensures that this type of treatment is for a small minority of users “in cases where traditional options have been tried and proven ineffective.”  The purpose is to give health-care providers access to a wide variety of life-saving treatments options.

In 2005, Crosstown Clinic conducted their first clinical trial of prescription heroin and has operated ever since.  The clinic provided diacetylmorphine to 52 addicts under a special court-ordered exemption. They expect that number to double over the next year if supplies can be obtained.

The Case for Prescription Heroin

A regulation like this will raise controversy. However, studies in the past argue the benefits of using prescription heroin over harm-reduction treatments such as methadone. The studies found that patients stayed in treatment longer and relapsed less in comparison to those who received methadone.

Furthermore, researchers found that those receiving diacetylmorphine had a longer life expectancy compared to those receiving methadone.  When it breaks down to costs, prescription heroin costs society less.

Researchers also found that those receiving diacetylmorphine had a longer life expectancy than who received methadone. Crime costs reductions occur with both options. When it breaks down to costs, methadone therapy costs society $1.14 million, compared with $1.09 million for prescription heroin.

“The question I get most about heroin-assisted therapy is whether we can afford the increased direct costs of the treatment,” co-author Dr. Martin Schechter of the University of British Columbia said in a news release. “What this study shows is that the more appropriate question is whether we can afford not to.”

A Two-Sided Argument

Still, many remain solidly against the option. Collin Carrie, a Conservative member of Parliament, stated that his party adamantly opposes the use of prescription heroin.

“Our policy is to take heroin out of the hands of addicts and not put it in their arms,” he stated.

However, Scott Macdonald reiterated that the patients considered for these treatments are long term users. Typically, they have been on heroin for decades and have tried treatments like methadone with repeated failed attempts.

 “Our goal is to get people into care,” he said.


When it comes to addiction, the entire world is seeing an outstanding amount of deaths related to drug overdoses. Treatment options like these are controversial, but unfortunately, they need to be a topic of discussion.  Still, the best option remains learning to live a clean, sober life in recovery. Do not let your addiction go on for too long. There is time and hope for you.  Do not wait. Call today.

    CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135

International Overdose Awareness Day 2016

 

International Overdose Awareness Day 2016

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

Author: Shernide Delva

Today, August 31, marks International Overdose Awareness Day. On this day, the goal is to raise global awareness of overdoses and reduce the stigma of drug-related deaths. This day is intended to acknowledge the grief felt by friends and family who have suffered the loss of a loved one due to a drug overdose.

The Shocking Reality

The tragedy of a drug overdose is preventable.  Today is a day to spread awareness to others about the disease of addiction.  Drug addiction is a global phenomenon; however, the United States, in particular, is facing a major drug epidemic. More deaths were reported from drug overdoses in 2014 than any other year on record. Deaths from overdoses are up among all genders, races, and nearly all ages. This is a disease that does not discriminate.

Out of these shocking numbers, three out of five drug overdose deaths involve opioids. Overdoses from opioids such as prescription opioids and heroin have nearly quadrupled since 1999. Overdoses from opioids killed over 28,000 people in 2014. Half of these deaths were related to prescription opioids.

Between 2013 and 2014, the number of drug overdoses increased a total of 6.5 percent. The year 2014 had a total of 47,055 drug overdoses in the United States. These numbers continue to climb as the prescription painkiller epidemic continues to be a major issue.

To spread the message of awareness, International Overdose Day focuses on commemorating those who have been affected by drug addiction. While today is intended to encourage the message of prevention, it also aims to encourage a message of hope.

Principles of Harm Reduction

The Harm Reduction Coalition affirms that “we will not end the overdose crisis until we place people who use drugs, along with their families and friends, at the center of our policies and strategies. “

The coalition aims to accomplish this task by ensuring that those who use drugs and their loved ones have access to information intended to treat and support them without the fear of stigma or arrest.

Furthermore, naloxone remains one of the most powerful tools in preventing opioid overdose deaths. Naloxone is a medication that works to counteract the effects of an opioid overdose.  Recently, there has been a push to increase the access the public has to naloxone. In many places, naloxone can now be purchased via pharmacies like CVS, and even in school nurses offices.

Still, according to the Harm Reduction Coalition, the United States is in a state of emergency.

“ We can no longer accept incremental progress; we must demand urgent action to save lives.”

Five Areas Needing Improvement

The Harm Reduction Coalition calls for immediate action in these five areas to increase access to naloxone:

  1. Funding: Congress should fully fund the President’s request for $12 million in Fiscal Year 2016 to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to provide grants to states to support broader naloxone access.
  2. Cost: The rising cost of naloxone by manufacturers in recent years is a deep concern. This increase threatens to limit the distribution of naloxone, especially by community-based programs that reach those most vulnerable to opioid overdoses. When prices increase, it directly increases the likelihood of more overdose deaths. Therefore, the coalition calls upon naloxone manufacturers and developers to price their products responsibly to ensure the best possible distribution.
  3. Access:Despite improvements in the access to naloxone, access remains limited and inadequate. Prescribers and health care professions play a vital role in ending the overdose crisis. Therefore, there should be an effort by all parties to develop guidance, education and training, resources, and support tools aimed at increasing awareness and access to the drug.
  4. Availability:Many states are working to make naloxone available through pharmacies through arrangements and agreements. These efforts should increase and broaden to ensure the widest availability of naloxone.  In addition, the Food and Drug Administration should develop, facilitate and expedite the regulatory pathways needed to ensure naloxone can be sold over the counter. Over-the-counter naloxone should be available to the market by 2018.
  5. Awareness: Despite the rising number of overdose deaths in the past decade, there still is not a national awareness campaign to educate the public and those most at risk about the signs and symptoms of opioid overdose. Countless anecdotal reports suggest that the lack of awareness is a critical factor in many preventable overdose deaths. Therefore the HHS and CDC must develop broad national awareness campaigns; that spreads information on how and where to obtain naloxone.

Ways to Raise Awareness

In addition to the guidelines suggested by the HHC, the International Overdose Awareness Day website aims to raise awareness through innovative technologies like there overdose aware app. The app raises awareness amongst those who are experiencing drug use and their families. The app shares information on what an overdose is, and the main overdose symptoms.

The website also has an area where those who have been directly affected by drug addiction overdoses can write a tribute to their story and grieve anyone they have lost. These tributes are where many share the impact drug use and overdoses have had on their family and friends.

How are you spreading awareness of International Overdose Awareness Day? If you are struggling with drug addiction, do not wait for it to progress into an overdose. We can help you get back on track. Please call toll free.

   CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135

All About the High Functioning Addict

 

 All About the High Functioning Addict

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

Author: Shernide Delva

You wake up at 8 a.m. sharp, jump in the shower, eat breakfast, watch the morning news and go to work. You come home from work, spend time with family, kiss your spouse and go to bed at 9 p.m. On the outside; you look like a person who has it all together. However, on the inside, you are battling an addiction and are too afraid to admit you have a problem. Besides, everything seems to be going fine, right?

Sound familiar?

If the above sounds like you, you are a functioning addict. The functioning addict looks like the average person. They are not homeless, nor are they unemployed. Most people are unaware they even have a problem. They might be excelling at work, and paying their bills on time. However, on the inside, they are constantly thinking about where their next high will come from. This is the addict that lives next door.

Unfortunately, the stigma of drug addiction leaves most with imagery of a homeless, dirty beggar.  Many assume a drug addict has to be homeless, incarcerated or in poor physical health. However, as most of us know by now, this is far from the case. The prescription painkiller epidemic has shifted the image of the average drug addict from a person on the streets to the everyday member of society. An addict comes in many faces. It could be your next door neighbor, the stay-at-home mom, or even the doctor or well-regarded priest. Addiction crosses all areas of society.

About the High-Functioning Addict

If you are a functioning addict, you are less likely to get help for your addiction because you believe you have your addiction under control. On top of that, most will not believe your addiction is real. However, the reality is your addiction is very real and very dangerous. While you might be able to keep your addiction secret, in the beginning, things will eventually get worse. Eventually, your addiction will become unmanageable.

The truth is, it can happen to anyone. In 2011, Whoopi Goldberg of the television show, The View, confessed:

“I was a functioning drug addict; I showed up for work because I knew a lot of people would be out of work and I wouldn’t get a check that I needed to buy my drugs.”

A statement like this is all too common for the functioning addict. They know they need to keep working to keep their addiction alive. If the paychecks dwindle, the “functioning” part of their addiction will soon fall apart.

Addiction: The Real Definition

Addiction has little to do with your ability to keep your life together. Addiction is addiction whether your families or friends believe you have a problem. Addiction does not depend on your work status or your relationship with your family. While the fall of these things typically results on an addict finally getting treatment, addiction does not depend on these factors falling apart.

Addiction is a chronic brain disease caused by substance use and abuse. This substance use results in changes in the brain that make it very difficult for a person to control their desire to use, and therefore control their substance use.

Just like any addict, a high functioning addict has a compulsive need to use and abuse their d.o.c (drug of choice). Even though you might be able to maintain your relationship, friendship, and occupation, you still have a serious problem. If left unaddressed, you can suffer serious health consequences and your addiction will eventually become too consuming to hide any longer.

Could It Be Me?

If you think you might be a functioning drug addiction, look at the following questions and answer them honestly. If you find you are having more “yes” answers than no’s, the time is now to talk to a professional about your addiction.

  • When you start drinking or using, do you find it hard to stop?
  • Do you often think about using drugs or drinking?
  • Do you schedule your time around drinking or using drugs?
  • Have you tried to stop before, but found that you were unable to?
  • Do you drink or use drugs at work?
  • Do you drink or use drugs first thing in the morning?
  • Do you hide your abuse from others?
  • Have you done something risky, like driven drunk?
  • Are you worried about your abuse?

If you are a high-functioning addict, chances are you worry about seeking treatment because you fear it might cost you your job, family, or both. However, there are various options that can be discussed with your treatment center and job to negotiate a plan that works best for you.

Remember, there is no cookie-cutter type for an addict. Addicts come from all walks of life and income brackets. They vary in race, religion and sexuality. Every addict deserves to live a life free from addiction. Hiding from addiction will never help you beat addiction. Stand up and face your addiction today. The time is now. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135. 

 

Trigger Warnings: Have We Taken It Too Far?

Trigger Warnings: Have We Taken It Too Far?

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

Author: Shernide Delva

*Trigger Warning* This piece discusses trigger warnings. Please avoid if you are uncomfortable with the idea of questioning whether or not trigger warnings should exist.

—-

The use of trigger warnings has become more mainstream. Now, some are wondering if this generation has taken it too far. Are we overdoing the trigger warnings?

In case you do not know, a “trigger” is something that triggers a negative or uncomfortable reaction. “Trigger Warnings” work to warn people the content they are about to see or read could make them uncomfortable. Trigger warnings give people the option of avoiding content that could cause emotional distress.

Recently, many have observed that society has become more socially conscious or “politically correct.” Whether or not that is a positive thing is a manner of opinion. However, the use of “trigger warnings” have undeniably increased in use.

Initially, trigger warnings spawned from post-traumatic stress disorders.  Those who suffer from PTSD benefit from these warnings because they are more sensitive to sensory input.  Anything from a film or piece of media might trigger a person with PTSD and cause them to suffer PTSD symptoms. It could be as simple as a sound or smell, physical space, a particular object, or a person. Anything that reminds the mind of a past trauma can result in PTSD symptoms.  A person with PTSD may find trigger warnings helpful because it helps them avoid situations that trigger their PTSD symptoms.

The problem with trigger warnings is that everyone is affected differently. Even arbitrary things can be triggering for someone. It is natural for people to be more sensitive to things than others. We all come from a diverse background and upbringing. The question is whether protecting people from possible triggers is beneficial. Everyone is different. If everyone has one, should they all be accommodated? Are we becoming overly sensitive to other people’s “triggers?”

Do Trigger Warnings Help Those With Mental Health Issues?

An article in The Atlantic thoroughly questions whether or not trigger warnings are beneficial to those who have mental health challenges like anxiety and depression. The author argues that trigger warnings create a “fortune telling” society in which people prepare for the worse every time they speak.  The act of “fortune telling” involves “seeing the potential danger in an everyday situation.”

On some college campuses, students demand trigger warnings for classic novels like The Great Gatsby and Catcher in the Rye. They argue that the sexually explicit content, violence, and language of these books should come with a trigger warning.  As an avid reader, I find the concept of this unusual. While it is true that some students will react more to the content than others, are trigger warnings helping or hurting these developing students?

PTSD and Anxiety: Do Trigger Warnings Benefit Them?

For those who suffer from PTSD, like Molly Miller, trigger warnings have prevented her PTSD episodes and have helped her live a more manageable life.

“Some people feel like trigger warnings coddle sensitive people. I don’t see it that way. I see trigger warnings as a common courtesy to help prevent sufferers of PTSD, like me, from reliving our trauma. I recognize it is not fail-proof, and getting upset by our memories is a part of life. But what is so wrong with making an effort?” She wrote.

On the contrary, author Samuel Barr described his experience with PTSD. At the age of ten, Barr was abused by an older boy. He was left emotionally devastated and suffered PTSD because of the experience. He talks about how he spiraled “downward into a  deep depression.” Still, Barr does not believe his mental health condition should warrant a trigger warning.  Until he learned to stop seeing himself as a victim and finally received helped, he was forced to tip-toe in society. He says he believes this trigger warning mindset is not beneficial.

“Trigger warnings are one of the latest fads in an ongoing cultural obsession with glorifying victimhood, and as a former victim, I can confidently say there is nothing glorious about it. Contrary to the noble intentions of its supporters, trigger warnings do more to harm people with trauma backgrounds than help them.”

Should We Embrace Them?

Furthermore, Barr believes people should face their trauma rather than run away from them.  These warnings will only continue to get out of hand and affect those who produce content in the first place.

“If you start warning, for one thing, you have to decide which unpleasant thing is worth a trigger and which isn’t. That isn’t a position an editor should be in,” stated Jessica Coen, editor at Jezebel magazine.

Johnathan Heidt, the author of “The Coddling of the American Mind,”says we are entering a climate where we presume the worse about the fragility and vulnerability of others. He describes this as vindictive impulsiveness which is “ a culture in which everyone must think twice before speaking up.”

Does this help anyone? Once again, that question can be debated, however for some mental health conditions, it can cause more harm than good:

“According to the most-basic tenets of psychology, helping people with anxiety disorders avoid the things they fear is misguided,” he continues.

Trigger Warnings and Addiction Treatment

When dealing with addiction treatment, addicts who seek treatment come from all types of background and find they are more sensitive to certain things than others.  Professionals in the addiction field work to help those seeking treatment develop the tools to lead a healthy life in recovery.

In treatments, clients learn what triggers could result in a relapse.  When It comes to addiction, triggers are a very real thing.  A person, place, event, or unresolved mental health are triggers in addiction. Therapists help addicts understand what their triggers are. Ultimately, each person has to decide whether to avoid all their triggers or try to overcome them.

For those early in recovery, facing triggers can be a very dangerous idea. Therefore, trigger warnings appearing before photos or content that could raise temptation might be helpful. However, years into the recovery, triggers may not be triggering at all.

Everyone should play an active role in helping others feel comfortable and safe. Sometimes it is good to be aware of how you affect other and what types of things affect you emotionally. You may have to navigate life avoiding triggers and paying more attention to the positives. In recovery, you learn the tools you need to succeed. Take it a day at a time.  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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