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Acupuncture Can Improve Chronic Pain and Depression Treatment

Acupuncture Can Improve Chronic Pain and Depression Treatment

Author: Justin Mckibben

Using needles to heal addicts is nothing new. Those who practice and promote holistic healing are often familiar with the concept. In recovery, the needle can mean something totally different than what it meant in addiction. For some it opens up a new world of medical treatment they never knew was possible. Acupuncture itself is actually much more powerful than some may realize, and a recent study only magnifies the usefulness of going under the needle for chronic pain and mental health.

The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Journals Library now features a report where the researchers show there is significant evidence to demonstrate that acupuncture provides more than a placebo effect.

To clarify, a placebo is a substance or treatment with no active therapeutic effect. These kinds of treatment may be given to a person in order to trick the recipient into thinking that it is an active treatment, meaning the answer is all in the mind.

This new data suggests there is an active therapeutic element to acupuncture.

Clinic Trials: Acupuncture VS Pain

Professor of Acupuncture Research, Hugh MacPherson, helped bring together this research with a team of scientists from the UK and US. The data is strung together using the results of 29 high-quality clinical trials. These trials specifically reviewed patients treated with acupuncture, alongside standard medical care.

For most of the clinical trials, patients with chronic pain treated with acupuncture and standard medical care were tested against those who were provided with standard medical care alone. The standard medical care includes treatment such as:

  • Anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Physiotherapy

Those examined were approximately 18,000 patients diagnosed with chronic pain of areas such as:

  • Neck
  • Lower back
  • Head
  • Knee

According to the published reports, the addition of acupuncture to complement standard medical treatment has a few powerful effects. Acupuncture was able to:

  • Significantly reduce the number of headaches and migraine attacks
  • Reduce the severity of neck and lower back pain
  • Reduce the pain and disability of osteoarthritis, which led to patients being less reliant on anti-inflammatory drugs

Clinic Trials: Acupuncture VS Depression

The teams report also includes a new clinical trial for the impact on depression. During these trials acupuncture or counselling was compared to the effectiveness of antidepressants and related medications.

Researchers sourced from 755 patients with depression in the North of England. The new study shows that both acupuncture and counselling significantly reduced the severity of depression. Not only did they reduce the severity, but the benefits were generally continuous for up to 12 months after the initial treatment. So the long-term implications alone are pretty exciting to see.

Professor MacPherson, from the University of York’s Department of Health Sciences, has said:

“The front-line treatment for depression in primary care usually involves antidepressants; however, they do not work well for more than half of patients.

“In the largest study of its kind, we have now provided a solid evidence base to show that not only can acupuncture and counselling bring patients out of an episode of depression, but it can keep the condition at bay for up to a year on average.”

Professor MacPherson believes that because patients and health professionals can now make decisions on using acupuncture for treatment with more confidence, this new data provides a significant step forward in managing and treating chronic pain and depression.

Clinic Trials: True Acupuncture VS Sham Acupuncture

As stated in the beginning, many believed acupuncture’s benefits to be at least partially associated with placebo effects. With this doubt hanging over it, the uncertainty of it’s clinical effectiveness has stunted its growth.

Professor MacPherson says that this new research provides definitive evidence that acupuncture can work to treat chronic pain; that in doing so the reductions in pain are substantially more than those measured from what is called “sham acupuncture.”

Sham acupuncture is only for clinical trials for research purposes. This “sham” method involves inserting needles at the ‘wrong’ locations, or using non-inserted needles (fake needles) at the correct locations. Having data to attest that ‘true’ acupuncture has significantly more effect in reducing pain than ‘sham’ acupuncture offers evidence that it is not simply a placebo effect.

In Conclusion

This research also asserts that this kind of treatment is cost effective. With the value for money being rated as less than the threshold of £20,000 cost per quality of life year; a metric for measuring cost-effectiveness used by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE). MacPherson went on to state:

“There has been a question mark for many years over whether policy and decision makers should or should not provide wider access to acupuncture. Our aim was to bring together data from high quality clinical trials and provide a robust evidence base that will help reduce this uncertainty and support commissioners and health professionals in making informed decisions backed up with research.”

Professor MacPherson insists that not only is it more cost effective than medications, but acupuncture reduces pain levels and improves mood levels, which could reduce over reliance on drugs that can sometimes result in unwanted side effects, such as physical dependence or abuse.

In the world of addiction, pain and depression are often simultaneous with substance use disorder. Many people who battle with addiction also fight to overcome depression, and countless people have become addicted to opioids as a result of prolonged dependence on prescription pain medications. As we move toward more innovations in prevention and intervention, innovations in treatment are more important than ever.

For years Palm Partners has believed in the healing power of acupuncture and offered the opportunity for people struggling with substances to have access to this powerful resource on their path to recovery. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free now!

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PAARI Program Provides Addiction Treatment for Over 400 People

PAARI Program Provides Addiction Treatment for Over 400 People

Author: Justin Mckibben

Around the country there is a wave a new and progressive initiatives changing the relationship between law enforcement and drug users. Government officials now lobby in support of such programs, and millions of dollars are being allocated to similar responses to a nationwide addiction epidemic. Probably one of the most famous of these revolutionary programs is one of the first; the PAARI program.

The Police Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative (PAARI) encourages police departments to abandon the old model of arresting and prosecuting people struggling with substance use disorder. Instead, the program encourages police to help people struggling with addiction seek help.

Now we have the first annual report from the PAARI program, and the numbers are pretty impressive.

Taking Pride in PAARI Program Progress  

In the PAARI program first year report the numbers include detailed financial inventory. The 501(c)3 non-profit believes in the transparency of their progress, and is proud of the success to far. Of course, with such a groundbreaking and inspirational initiative, who wouldn’t want to show off?

To update anyone who doesn’t know- the PAARI began in Gloucester, Massachusetts, after the local police department announced on June 1, 2015 that anyone who walked into the police department and turned in either drugs or paraphernalia would not be arrested. The announcement told the citizens that instead any individual willing to seek help would be sent to treatment. This is the response from law enforcement in the wake of a spike in overdose rates in the area.

The report now boasts an amazing impact on the community. In the first year of the PAARI program, just Gloucester Police Department alone helped more than 400 people enter treatment!

Spreading the Message

That 400+ count doesn’t even scratch the thousands more being helped across the country due to the establishment of similar programs. The initial response from the Gloucester community was incredibly enthusiastic. This helped spread the concept of the PAARI program, as they moved to help other police departments implement similar programs. According to the report, the PAARI program helped train 143 police departments in 27 states.

  • Augusta, Maine began training volunteers last November before implementing their own program.
  • This summer Newark, Ohio, began its program. Officials said they felt driven to try something new once they were receiving at least one overdose call per day.
  • According to the report, the PAARI program has partnered with 300 treatment centers in 20 states
  • The PAARI program also secured hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarship funds to help people access the treatment they need.
  • Distributed more than 5,000 doses of nasal Naloxone, the opiate overdose antidote.

Unfortunately, not everyone agrees with this progressive approach. Some still believe that criminal justice is an appropriate response to drug use. Cape Cod, Massachusetts police department chose not to implement their own program because they didn’t agree with diverting the focus away from criminalizing active users. Some still think that shifting this perspective is somehow promoting drug use or giving permission.

Reinventing Police Intervention

Last April the Obama administration praised the Angel Program and PAARI program, siting that they reduced “crime and costs associated with substance use disorders in Gloucester” and rebuilding “trust between the police and the community.”

The first annual report makes a very exciting statement, saying:

“Communities that have joined PAARI have observed as much as a 25% reduction in crimes associated with addiction, cost savings by diverting people into treatment rather than triggering the criminal justice system, as well as an enormous increase in trust from their communities.”

Participants in the program speak in heavy praise of its methods and compassion for those it exists to assist. Even insurance companies contribute to the progress in the direction of compassionate and effective change.

Without question, these numbers are a new hope to so many. Over 400 lives in just one area over a year may have been saved thanks to PAARI. And at the end of the day, isn’t that the point; to protect and to serve all lives? The hope is that more programs like this can shatter the stigma of addiction, while simultaneously bridging the gap between the disenfranchised and the established authority to create a community that is better and brighter for both sides.

Drugs and alcohol have torn apart too many communities. Now the time has come for better treatment options and more compassionate health care. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, do not wait. Please call toll-free now. We want to help. You are not alone.

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How Criminal Justice VS Addiction Recovery Could Change

How Criminal Justice VS Addiction Recovery Could Change

Author: Justin Mckibben

With the release of the United States Surgeon General report this month came the historical declaration that substance abuse is a public health disorder. While many have insisted upon this perspective in the past, it is the first time anyone holding the office of U.S. surgeon general has made the statement. In this groundbreaking report, Vivek Murthy described substance abuse stating,

“Not as a moral failing, but as a chronic illness that must be treated with skill, urgency and compassion. The way we address this crisis is a test for America.”

This revelation is a long-awaited victory for the countless advocates who have been hoping to change the way the world sees substance abuse and addiction.

Along with this statement, there comes a conversation about how to shift the strategies used to address addiction. Along with that comes the possibility for vast change and reform in the realm of criminal justice. How big is the impact of criminal justice on the addiction issue, and how could a change in perspective change everything?

Current View of Criminal Justice

The big thing here is that for years people have pushed for the world to see substance abuse and addiction as a health issue, both physical and mental. Changing the view from stigma and punishment to treatment ultimately means giving people struggling a better shot at recovery.

The failed War on Drugs has definitely put addiction and substance abuse in a place it doesn’t necessarily belong. Murthy’s report provides an update on drug and alcohol users in the country. According to its figures, in the last year alone:

  • About 48 million Americans used or abused illegal or prescription drugs
  • 28 million drove under the influence
  • 21 million Americans currently suffer from addiction (substance-use disorder)
  • Out of an estimated 2 million inmates in the nation, 65% “meet the criteria for substance-abuse addiction” according to a new study
  • According to thePrison Policy Initiative, over 300,000 inmates currently in state and federal prisons are for convictions related to drugs.

These statistics place a severe strain on the criminal justice system far beyond federal prisons.

  • Local and county jails have held thousands of these same individuals
  • Tens of thousands lost driving privileges due to drunk driving
  • Millions served time and were put on probation
  • Millions became repeat offenders and cycled back through the system

The long and short of it is that in fact, the current system is not anything close to fixing the problem. And at $442 billion dollars spent annually on health-care and criminal justice for substance-use disorder, that is a VERY expensive failure to repeat over and over.

Reforming Criminal Justice

There are many variables that come into play when you discuss reforming criminal justice to be more effective for helping addicts. Some of these include:

  • Ending the tactic of using fear of prison to keep people “in line”
  • Reforming treatment programs through criminal justice system that rely on harsh penalties
  • Ending unnecessarily punitive federal sentencing guidelines

A hard truth is the criminal-justice system is often the first to be in contact with struggling addicts. Thus many people only receive treatment once they are already involved in the criminal justice system, which often locks them into a cycle of failed attempts to clean up and repeated arrests.

Many would say it would be ideal to not have addicts and those battling substance abuse go through the criminal justice system at all; specifically for non-violent, drug-related offenses. They would rather individuals be directly diverted to a system that relies on medical and therapeutic rehabilitation.

Playing Politics

The fact remains; even if state and federal governments begin addressing addiction as a health crisis, any reforms to the existing criminal-justice system will come with their own burdens. This kind of power-shift would have instantaneous economic effects due largely to institutional competition. The massive industrial prison system that has thrived for decades would of course fight to keep its funding if the government tried to divert those funds to healthcare programs.

The surgeon general’s report is a refreshing perspective and a much needed statement. But there is still money to move and the need for playing politics. Despite the fact that most believe mental health and public health institutions are better suited to treat addiction than prisons, some say they do not have the seniority or the political juice to make a claim on the resources to do so.

In the end, setting up an approach on the state or national level that would send addicts to treatment instead of jails and prisons would be an enormous task that we cannot logically expect to happen all too soon. Yet, there is hope. Many states now have more compassionate and treatment-based programs with law enforcement. Crisis-intervention training and other methods have reduced arrests and housing costs in many areas. It does make a difference.

The real difference to reforming the criminal justice system will come when more officials recognize that substance abuse and addiction are health issues and not moral ones, especially officials at the federal level.

Never forget that every day we all have the chance to influence change. Maybe we can’t change the criminal justice system over night, but we can make decisions that make a difference. Understanding addiction and fighting back is a victory itself. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call our toll-free number now to speak with an specialist. We want to help.

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Badlands of Philadelphia: Almost 50 Overdoses in One Day

Badlands of Philadelphia: Almost 50 Overdoses in One Day

Author: Justin Mckibben

In America, estimates say nearly a thousand people died from drug overdose per week in 2015. This year, we see how this problem continues to grow and strike some cities with terrible intensity. Drug overdose was the leading cause of death in Philadelphia, claiming 700 people that year. One place in particular has earned a name for itself: “The Badlands.”

The Badlands of Philadelphia is an area encompassing the Kensington neighborhood and parts of North Philadelphia. Residents gave this part of town the infamous “The Badlands” title because of its high rate of crime including homicide, drug trafficking and gang activity. Just this past week nearly 50 residents in the Badlands of Philadelphia suffered overdoses from what narcotics officers believe was tainted heroin.

Luckily, according to an NBC Philadelphia report, there were no fatalities during the outbreak of overdoses on November 17. However, several individuals had to be revived using Naloxone. That is the opioid overdose antagonist that has seen expanded access all over the country in an effort to stop the ever increasing body count.

Record numbers of overdoses like this are popping up in various parts of the country, and it is an exclamation point to the story of the opioid epidemic in America. This was one very bad day in the Badlands of Philadelphia, but will it get worse before it gets better?

Badlands of Philadelphia: Following the Pattern

Philadelphia Police is working on laboratory tests to determine if these drugs are part of a growing problem with tainted narcotics. Many overdoses in several states have been linked to tainted heroin that has been mixed with Fentanyl or other synthetic analogues far more powerful than the illicit drug itself. This is not be the first time a bad batch of heroin has hit the Badlands of Philadelphia. Gary Tennis, Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs, had some powerful words concerning the way the epidemic has been handled until now.

“If we had ISIS terrorists roaming the streets, killing a thousand Americans a week, [or] ebola or some exotic disease, we wouldn’t tolerate it for a minute… But because of the stigma around this disease, we continue with policies federally, state and local, that are fundamentally inhumane.”

The Badlands of Philadelphia also made headlines in May of 2016 when the experimental painkiller W-18 was allegedly found within its territory. The dangerous W-18 is causing considerable hysteria in Canada and the United States.

Badlands of Philadelphia: W-18 and Fentanyl

As a recap from previous stories back in May of 2016, W-18 is a synthetic opiate and psychoactive substance similar to heroin. However, it is horrifically more deadly. W-18 is one of the most powerful opioid of a series of about 30 compounds. Experts go as far as to describe W-18 as being:

  • 100 times more potent than fentanyl
  • 10,000 times stronger than morphine

Though fentanyl or W-18 are yet to confirmed as the cause of the outbreak of overdoses in the Badlands of Philadelphia, fentanyl is considered to be responsible for a upsurge of overdoses that health officials say has risen 636% since last year.

  • In 2013, 25 people died as a result of Fentanyl overdose in Philadelphia
  • In 2015, 184 people died as a result of Fentanyl overdose
  • The 2016 99 people died from Fentanyl overdose in Philadelphia in just the first four months

Between 2013 and 2015 is a seven fold increase in death. One can only imagine where the number will be by the end of this year. According to NBC news, Philadelphia also has some of the cheapest and most potent heroin in the nation. Reports claim that purity levels of heroin reach an estimate between 80% and 90% purity. That alone is incredibly deadly. The addition of unpredictable and synthetic drugs only magnifies the threat to life.

Badlands of Philadelphia: Not the Only “Badlands”

Philadelphia is not the only state with a section of “Badlands.” In reality, the “Badlands” are basically everywhere. In every major city, in every state, there are people suffering. A recent report stated that one American dies every 19 minutes from a heroin or opiate overdose. Not doesn’t include alcohol or any other drugs that contribute to the destruction caused by addiction all over the nation.

The new report from the U.S. Surgeon General highlights the distressing truth in the statistics. To understand the depth of the addiction crisis in America, one needs only to look around. The report says 1 in 7 Americans will face a substance use disorder. Sadly, only 10% of those will get the necessary treatment to save their life.

In the presence of great suffering there is still hope. People are finally working together to try and shed the stigma of addiction in many communities. The progress that is possible in holistic treatment is life changing, and taking the first steps can make all the difference. If you or someone you love is struggling, call now.  

   CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135

Tramadol Abuse: How Some Overlook a Deadly Opiate

Tramadol Abuse: How Some Overlook a Deadly Opiate

Author: Justin Mckibben

When most people hear someone say ‘opiates’ they probably think of OxyContin, morphine or even heroin. These have become the usual suspects when discussing the dangers of opiate-based drugs. While the country has come to terms with the status of the opiate epidemic, some dangerous drugs remain overlooked. One such opiate is Tramadol.

Tramadol, like most opiates, is a medication used to treat moderate to severe pain. Approved in 1995, Tramadol is now taken by thousands of people every day. With other names such as:

  • Ultram
  • Conzip
  • Rybix ODT

Tramadol works by activating changes in the brain to relieve pain. At the same time, the drug increases levels of serotonin and norepinephrine. These chemicals regulate our mood. Such changes are what lead to the substance abuse, because they produce a euphoric effect.

While Tramadol has not had the spotlight during the opiate epidemic, there is plenty of cause for concern when it comes to Tramadol abuse.

Tramadol Takes a Toll on Ireland

While the drug hasn’t gained as much infamy in America as other opiates, in Ireland Tramadol is claiming more lives than any other drug – including heroin and cocaine – according to Northern Ireland’s top pathologist.

Like many prescription medications, this painkiller doesn’t typically cause harm if taken correctly. However, with excessive use of powerful medications comes an elevated risk of adverse effects. The greatest danger with Tramadol also arises when users mix it with other drugs or alcohol. Just last year, 33 deaths in Northern Ireland were linked to Tramadol.

Professor Jack Crane, the State Pathologist for Northern Ireland, has spoken out about his fear that more people will die unless urgent action is taken. Tramadol should only be available on prescription in Ireland after it was reclassified in 2014, making it an illegal Class C drug without prescription. However, the illegal drug trade took advantage of the situation and people continue to die.

Professor Jack Crane wants to upgrade the classification again to Class A. Crane will be meeting Northern Ireland’s Chief Medical Officer later this month to push for change.

 Cane stated:

“I don’t think that people realise how potentially risky taking tramadol is. I think it’s because it’s a prescription drug – people assume it’s safe.”

Continued Abuse Issues

The drugs original reputation of being a safe alternative is mostly to blame for why it is so commonly overlooked as a seriously dangers opiate. Many still hold a false view of this drug as not being a health threat if abused. Yet, it is extremely deadly when abused and mixed with other substances.

When used in amplified amounts the unhealthy levels of the medication throw off our complex chemical balances. This unbalance can negatively affect our well-being physically, emotionally and psychologically.

Physical dependence on the drug increases other risks such as overdose. Signs of an overdose can include:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Seizure
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Coma

Physical dependence on Tramadol can also cause withdrawal symptoms when users try to stop taking the drug. These include:

  • Depression
  • Agitation
  • Hallucinations
  • Stomach Pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Paranoia
  • Confusion

Medically supervised detox is recommended when trying to safely stop using the drug. Medical detox is incredibly helpful to minimize the dangers of withdrawal. Tramadol abuse and dependence presents challenges similar to the health risks associated with other opiate drugs, so they should definitely not be overlooked.

The opioid epidemic is affecting Americans in every part of the country, and even prescription drugs like Tramadol are making an impact. So in the face of overdose deaths, more than ever people need safe and effective treatment to help them change for life. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call now.

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