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Author: Justin Mckibben
In 2008 the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act passed. Ever since then health insurers and employers have progressed toward improving coverage for mental health and substance abuse issues. One step in the new direction includes insurance plans no longer charging higher copays or separate deductibles for mental health care, but beyond that there is more to be done.
In March President Obama announced the establishment of a task force focused on further studying and improving the scope of coverage for mental health to ensure that patients with mental illness and addiction would not face discrimination in their health care.
The task force recently submitted a report in which they have made a series of recommendations. Part of this initiative called for $9.3 million in funding to improve enforcement of the federal parity law. Taking a closer look at the report, this is important news for those trying to find help.
The Task Force Report
As part of the report, the task force authors touch on how the lack of effective treatment impacts more than just the costs of treatment and actually creates more issues and more costs down the road. The report states:
“These disorders affect society in ways that go beyond the direct cost of care. Without effective treatment, people with these health conditions may find it difficult to find or maintain a job, may be less able to pursue education and training opportunities, may require more social support services, and are more likely to have their housing stability threatened.”
This is the truth. People who fail to receive quality care for substance abuse and addiction often end up facing multiple hurdles later on. The fact is there are significant problems with the parity law. But some are probably asking, what is parity and what does it mean for substance abuse?
Parity Law Explained
Mental health parity means equal treatment of mental health and substance abuse disorders in insurance plans. When an insurance plan has parity, it means you should get the same benefits for mental health or addiction treatment as you do for other chronic conditions.
For example: If your insurance plan provides unlimited doctor visits for diabetes, they must also offer unlimited visits for depression or schizophrenia.
However, parity makes no guarantee for quality of coverage. Many would argue that “equal” coverage does not translate to “good” coverage. So if your health insurance is limited, your mental health coverage is also limited.
The rules of parity law can be a little confusing, and there are some big problems with regulation.
Task Force Recommendations
In order to get a comprehensive idea of how to address problems with parity, the task force reached out to several sources. They received 1,161 public comments from:
- State regulators
Based on the findings, the task force has enacted some new strategies to work toward move effective parity regulation. Some of these include:
- The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is awarding $9.3 million to states to help enforce parity protections.
- A new government website will help consumers identify the right agency to assist with parity complaints and appeals.
- A new consumer guide to help patients, families and providers understand their rights and look into whether they have experienced a parity violation.
- The Department of Labor will report each year on investigations into violations.
The federal task force also recommended the government increase its aptitude to audit health plans for parity compliance. Also they suggest the same for the Department of Labor when assessing civil monetary penalties for violations.
Opinions on Parity Plans
Former congressman Patrick Kennedy is one of the authors of the 2008 parity law. After examining the task force’s report he said the actions were a step in the right direction, but much of it still places the burden of real action on the patients. Kennedy insisted that the next administration will need to be vigilant in enforcing the parity law.
Both the America’s Health Insurance Plans and the American Psychiatric Association showed support for the report and its recommendations.
Benjamin Miller, director of the health policy center at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, has an even more direct stance on the matter. Miller says,
“Separate is not equal — mental health is core to health. People do not see themselves as a disease or a select health benefit, but rather a person who has needs. Benefits and payments should follow the person, address their needs, and address the whole of their health.”
Miller’s idea is that if we want the treatment coverage to be absolutely equal, why not just eliminate any borders of distinction?
What does it all mean?
Essentially, the federal task force is fighting to assure that insurance coverage for mental health and substance abuse be more available and more strictly enforced. At the end of the day, the government realizes that allowing insurance companies to skimp on the bill when it comes to treating these kinds of disorders is not tolerable, and that people should be made more aware of their rights to coverage.
State and federal laws may also be different in regards to protection of parity. People should be educated on how this affects them and how to make sure their insurance providers are offering them the quality and equality of care they’re entitled to.
People struggling with substance abuse and addiction deserve comprehensive and compassionate treatment, and these actions are an important step towards making treatment more available.
Substance abuse should be getting the attention is deserves. Hopefully the discussion on drug policies will gain priority in the upcoming months. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free now.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
Author: Justin Mckibben
According to some statistics, opioids killed nearly 30,000 Americans in 2014. This includes illicit narcotics and prescription painkillers. In the last two years there have been reports from all over the country of surges in overdoses and deaths, leading one to believe that number has been magnified with the growing epidemic. Drug overdose is the leading cause of accidental death in our country.
1 in 4 families are directly impacted by drug overdose. Whether that is you or not, you can see the impact it has on our communities. Now Palm Beach County is continuing to advocate for more resources to help the people most at risk fight back.
There will be Narcan Training events for local communities of Palm Beach County starting this month. The first seminar will be in Boca Raton, Florida at the St. Jude Reception Hall. This is about saving lives, and with so many lives be lost and others suffering, the time is now to learn how you may save a life.
The Problem in Palm Beach County
In 2014 there were an estimated 2,062 deaths due to prescription drugs. Many of these were opioid-related deaths, and heroin accounts for thousands more. In Florida, the total drug-related death toll increased by 14% in the first half of 2015 compared to 2014.
Palm Beach County saw an overdose rate increase of 425% so far in 2016 compared to 2015. There were 13 overdoses alone in Delray Beach last weekend. Hundreds more overdoses happened throughout Palm Beach County last month. The opiate epidemic has not spared any corner of the county, and many government officials and community organizations are pulling their resources in an effort to create strategies to prevent drug overdoses and save lives.
More about Narcan
Narcan, or the generic form Naloxone, is a life-saving opiate antidote. Some examples of opioids include:
An opioid overdose can cause breathing to slow down or stop completely, putting someone’s life in immediate danger. Narcan works by blocking the effects of opioids and can actually reverse an overdose in order to get medical attention to someone who is in need.
One major plus is that Narcan has no euphoric effects and cannot get someone “high” so abuse is not an issue. The overdose antidote is essentially harmless if there are no opiods present in someone’s system. If given to a person who has not taken opioids, there will be no effect. Narcan can still be effective when alcohol or other drugs are present with opiates.
Administration to opioid-dependent individuals may cause symptoms of opioid withdrawal, including:
- Fast heart rate
There are other measures that can be taken to help ease these symptoms as well.
Narcan and Naloxone expansion programs have become a huge part of states everywhere trying to solve the overdose death outbreak. Many communities have equipped their first responders with Narcan kits and given training on how to administer the antidote. Some police departments in Palm Beach County now carry Narcan or Naloxone kits. Now these programs are trying to empower more people in Palm Beach County.
The first free seminar on Narcan Training is October 24th at 6 o’clock PM. The training takes place in the St. Jude Reception Hall in Boca Raton, Florida. For more information and events, visit the website here.
The seminar is open to the public and will be teaching participants more about the dangers of drug overdose, as well as about Narcan.
Palm Beach County has seen what an opioid overdose can do. It has also seen how effective Narcan and Naloxone can be to helping prevent an overdose from turning into a death. Not only are there expansion programs out there making the medication more available, but the community in Palm Beach County is actively working to help the people understand how to utilize their resources. Putting this life saving medication in reach and teaching people how to use it can help us from having to helplessly watch our friends, family members or neighbors die.
Palm Beach County also has a strong recovery community, and many people got there through effective and innovative holistic drug and alcohol treatment. It is incredibly important to preserve life, and beyond that to improve the lives that are saved. Drug and alcohol treatment can be the first step to a new life. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call now.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)
Author: Justin Mckibben
This September brings us another opportunity to talk about raising awareness for substance abuse, addiction and recovery with National Recovery Month 2016. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that actively spearheads public health efforts for progress in behavioral health. Along with other organizations and community leaders, SAMHSA helps to create events around the country for this very important topic.
History of Awareness
SAMHSA was created by Congress back in 1992 to make mental health and substance abuse services more accessible. However the origins of National Recovery Month go back even farther.
National Recovery Month began as “TreatmentWorks!Month” established to honor the work of professionals in the treatment and recovery field.
The annual observance grew into “National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month” to include rejoicing in the accomplishments of individuals who are actively in recovery from substance use disorders.
This celebration evolved even further to National Recovery Month AKA “Recovery Month” to include all facets of behavioral and mental health recovery.
The theme for the 2015 National Recovery Month was:
“Join the Voices for Recovery: Visible, Vocal, Valuable!”
Along with the theme last year’s events were organized to bring people together to share real life experiences of how recovery impacted their lives, while standing up against stigma of addiction and recovery.
The Theme for 2016
The theme for the 27th annual Recovery Month 2016 is:
“Join the Voices for Recovery: Our Families, Our Stories, Our Recovery!”
This year’s theme highlights the value of family support throughout recovery. The theme also invites individuals in recovery and their families to share personal stories and successes to encourage and empower others.
Addiction is known as a “family disease.” This means that the family and friends of an alcoholic are often as sick as the alcoholic themselves. Likewise, when someone finds themselves on the road to recovery, the family often gets the opportunity to be active and inspired in their journey.
Most holistic drug addiction treatment programs offer the opportunity to take part in a family program. This will put loved ones and family members in direct contact with the care professionals and clinical teams who are working with your family member to develop a plan of recovery.
We would like to offer you the FREE GIFT of a checklist to help decipher if you are helping or hurting a loved one who is struggling with addiction.
Click for FREE GIFT
Recovery Month Event Schedule for Florida
In observance of National Recovery Month 2016 there is a vast calendar of events all over the country to raise awareness for this important cause. These events range from support groups and discussions to open celebrations. Lets highlight some of the upcoming events in the Florida area. Here are some of the events for the rest of September.
ENEMY Album Release Party- Thursday, September 22, 2016
This is an open public event set to take place at Paradise Live at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida. The details have it listed as an entertainment event, and the description says it is benefiting the Face the Music Foundation.
- Recovery Sunday- Sunday, September 25, 2016
Recovery Sunday at Christ United Methodist Church in Venice, Florida includes three worship services. As part of this event attendees will have a chance to see a brief video of a personal testimony about a family’s discovery of the Support & Addiction Family Education (SAFE) ministry and their personal journey. The showings are:
- 7:30am- 8:30am
In addition, display tables will be set up with free booklets about the disease of addiction and the recovery journey.
TB Rays Recovery Month- Sunday, September 25, 2016
The Tampa Bay Rays and BayCare Behavioral Health invite the community to celebrate National Recovery Month on Sunday, September 25, at 1:10pm when the Rays take on the Red Sox! The deadline to purchase tickets is Wednesday, September 21, 2016. Lower Level Tickets are $20 ($45 Value). To reserve your seats call 727-940-2837 Monday through Friday between 8am- 5 pm.
This event will take place in Saint Petersburg, Florida from 1:00pm- 4:00pm. Sports fans should definitely check this one out.
Block Party: Celebrate Recovery- September 30, 2016
That’s right, it’s a Block Party! This is a great chance to bring families and communities together to celebrate recovery! Free food is provided, along with a raffle ticket for your chance to win a few great prizes! The party starts at 5:00pm.
This is another open public event in Jacksonville Florida, with an estimated 200 attendees already. Look online to find more information about this rally for Recovery Month.
Find Out More
You can get involved, or find an event in your area, by checking out the SAMHSA website for National Recovery Month. You can also see inspirational PSA videos that emphasize the importance of family and community support in recovery.
So many people overlook the importance of having a strong system of support standing behind you in the recovery process. The role of family members and loved ones in an individual’s recovery is paramount, because it can provide a sense of love and security like no other. However, beyond National Recovery Month events, you can help inform people about the importance of family in recovery.
You can either stand on the sidelines of someone’s suffering, or you can get in the game and work with them for change. Reading through countless stories of families who fought together to overcome addiction, I think this is an awesome theme for National Recovery Month. And communities should think of themselves as a family. It isn’t just about the people in your house; your neighborhood is your home. Take care of your family out there too.
Recovery Month also emphasizes helping people find the treatment they desperately need. Making a difference can be as simple as making a beginning. Palm Partners wants to help.
Just as we said last year, thousands of people everywhere are growing and changing their lives through programs of recovery. Along with them, thousands of families are rebuilding and sharing their strength and hope. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call. We want to help. You are not alone.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
By: Justin Mckibben
Every once in a while we have an opportunity to share some of the amazing and emotional testimonies of transformation from our Palm Partners alumni. So many of these men and women have experience such an awesome change in their life and a change in perspective that they cannot wait to share with us their gratitude and share how they learned through us to overcome the many aspects of their adversity.
This week a wonderful woman Doris recently became a Palm Partners Alumni, and wanted to share a letter that she wrote to the Palm Partners staff, and asked that we type it up and publish it for her. She talks about how not knowing what she was walking into ended up helping her recognize the turmoil in herself, and the desire to get better that brought her on this journey. One of the most rewarding parts of this for us is to acknowledge the amazing people that make an impact every day on the lives of people who desperately need hope, helping them find it when all seems lost.
So below is the letter Doris wrote.
When I walked in Detox for the very first time, I wasn’t sure what to expect.
I was scared, beyond broken and completely miserable with life the way I’d been living it. The next 5 days were hard, I kept pushing through it. I never knew just how difficult it would be. A lot of pain, soul-searching and coming to terms with my disease. After 5 days I was placed at Palm Partners. I was taught by Doug and Heidi how to begin to forgive myself through the “Dickens Process,” which was completely awesome! It was so surreal, I never realized just how many people I hurt while on that path. I’m taking with me all of the things that were taught here.
I would like to thank God for leading me in the right direction.
I’d like to thank Todd from admissions, who answered that 3 AM phone call and gave me HOPE, which put me on that airplane 3 days later.
Thanks to all the clients, men and women, that were there every step of the way, lending an ear or a shoulder to cry on.
Thanks to ALL employees that helped me get to this point of my recovery, especially Tristen- he always makes me want to smile- and Paula, my therapist. I appreciate all of your help. And Sandy.
A BIG thanks goes to all the techs. You all deserve a raise because you all put up with 10 kinds of hell every day and night!
Much love goes out to each and every person that was involved in my treatment. I am forever grateful.
Keep Sharing the Message
We are always happy to share the powerful breakthroughs that our clients get to have while attending treatment, just like we love hearing about the personal connections they make with their therapists. As more men and women like Doris complete the program and move on to change and inspire in their life, we celebrate their success and thank them for the part of the journey we get to be present for.
We know there are so many more Palm Partners alumni out there with talents, stories and experiences to share, and we encourage you to contact us and be part of the message that may help countless others. You never know how many lives you can touch, and how many people could make the choice that saves their life because of something that you choose to share. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135. We want to help. You are not alone.
Author: Justin Mckibben
This definitely isn’t the first time we have asked questions about the concept of forcing someone into alcohol or drug addiction treatment. We have examined in the past whether or not this is an effective way to address addiction and we have evaluated whether or not it is a good idea to try and force your loved ones into treatment.
While some still think that forcing someone who refuses to stop using drugs or drinking to go to treatment is the only way from saving themselves, there are still a lot of people out there who think “tough love” approaches such as this just flat out down work. A lot of people in recovery will tell you most people won’t make the necessary changes in their life until they are ready and willing to make those changes, but others will tell you that a lot of people don’t realize how serious the issue is and need to be hit with a strong dose of reality before it is too late.
Now the conversation has been brought up just in time for the United Nations General Assembly Special Session on the World Drug Problem (UNGASS), which hasn’t met since 1998, and some new research may put this whole concept to bed once and for all. But it doesn’t just say that forced treatment is ineffective, but goes as far as to say it can be a violation of human rights.
Compulsory Addiction Treatment
Compulsory Addiction Treatment, also sometimes referred to as Involuntary Addiction Treatment, refers to the mandatory enrollment of people into drug treatment programs, typically forced inpatient treatment.
This method of treatment is still used today, and in some places in the world it is used a lot more aggressively than others. Sometimes the individuals forced into compulsory addiction treatment are not even necessarily drug-dependent.
Now there is of course a big difference between compulsory addiction treatment and coerced addiction treatment, which is when individuals are given an ultimatum to either attend an addiction treatment facility of serve jail time. Drug courts often court order this kind of treatment, but it is still an option and not forced onto someone who doesn’t want it.
New Study Stats Do Not Satisfy
When the International Centre for Science in Drug Policy (ICSDP) introduced its recent research to the UNGASS they showed their studies had found that compulsory addiction treatment does NOT seem to have any real benefits, and after treatment compulsory addiction treatment does not reduce:
- Drug use
In a press release given after the findings of the study were announced it was stated:
“This consistent with growing calls from experts to replace the use of compulsory treatment with voluntary, evidence-based, and human rights compliant health and social services to address drug dependence,”
The study’s principal investigator from ICSDP, Dr. Dan Werb stated:
“The evidence clearly indicates that forcibly enrolling individuals does not result in sustained, positive outcomes.”
Dr. Werb explained that this new investigation raises serious questions about the growing dependence on compulsory approaches to drug addiction, particularly in places like:
- Southeast Asia
- Latin America
The researchers thoroughly studied and revised current scientific literature available in order to assess the efficacy of compulsory addiction treatment, and in doing so they claim to have two key discoveries concerning compulsory addiction treatment.
- Compulsory addiction treatment is less effective than non-compulsory methods at promoting long-term abstention or reducing criminal recidivism
- Compulsory addiction treatment actually has negative impacts on drug use after treatment, as well as on arrests or incarcerations, compared to voluntary methods.
Human Rights Violations
When it gets down to this part, I think back to an article I wrote about forced addiction treatment in Guatemala where a team of head-hunters would be dispatched by families members to wrangle and addict and drag them off to a dingy crowded building to detox in huddles like cages animals at the slaughterhouse… So for me it wasn’t too much of a surprise when the investigators of this recent study said there is strong evidence of human rights violations in compulsory addiction treatment programs, including torture and other forms of punishment for drug dependent individuals.
Mr. Rick Lines, executive director of Harm Reduction International, made his own statement condemning the conduct of some compulsory addiction treatment centers, stating:
“The routine use of physical violence, sexual abuse, and forced labor in compulsory treatment centers seriously undermines the human rights of detainees,”
The center I wrote about in Guatemala actively forced internees to clean the floors or to work at night as forms of punishment. The treatment plan consisted only of chores, religion and sometimes violence, and individuals were often tied up in the streets and brought there to be kept behind barred windows for months or years at a time.
The team who put out this recent study recommended that evidence-based methods of treatment should be implemented as they have been found to reduce drug use and repeated criminal offenses after treatment. The more humane, compassionate and public health-oriented addiction treatment archetype will be front and center at this year’s UNGASS, and hopefully even more progress will be made in revolutionizing treatment of addiction on a global scale.
Forcing someone into treatment may seem like a last resort for a lot of families frantically trying to stop the ones they love from causing more havoc or hurting themselves, but usually the solution lies in working together to make a choice for change.
As the stigma of addiction fades away and the worlds of science, psychology and politics grow a better understanding of addiction our world changes and how we treat those who suffer changes. Effective and holistic addiction treatment saves lives with compassionate and personalized treatment, and Palm Partners believes in providing the incredible treatment to help create change for life. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, call toll-free 1-800-951-6135