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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:

28 Days Later: Addressing the Length of Treatment

28 Days Later: Addressing the Length of Treatment

Author: Justin Mckibben

First, I have to make it clear that any amount of treatment has the potential to make a difference. Every opportunity to take action in the right direction means something. So making the most out of our time is what is so crucial. Still, I want to look at why a month in rehab has become most insurers’ answer to the addiction issue.

Because different people progress through treatment at different paces there is no perfectly predetermined length of treatment. It isn’t a one-size-fits-all kind of thing. However, research shows that clearly good outcomes are contingent on adequate length of time in treatment. Arguably a treatment program of less than 90 days will show limited effectiveness in comparison to longer programs. Many recommend longer lasting treatment for maintaining positive outcomes. Yet, just around a month’s stay can be pretty typical among people who go to an inpatient facility.

So, who came up with the 28 days later standard of treatment? Why do most people only get this amount of time in treatment?

28 Days Later Routine

Kimberly Johnson is director of the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment at SAMHSA. This federal agency studies addiction treatment services. Johnson says,

“As far as I know, there’s nothing magical about 28 days,”

Anne Fletcher, author of the book Inside Rehab, agrees. Fletcher states,

“It certainly is not scientifically based. I live in Minnesota where the model was developed and a lot of treatment across the country really stemmed from that.”

According to Fletcher, the late Daniel Anderson was one of the primary architects of what has been called the “Minnesota model.” This methodology became the prevailing treatment protocol for addiction specialists a long time ago, but how?

The story starts in the 1950’s at a state hospital in Minnesota. Daniel Anderson attended to alcoholics living in locked wards, leaving only to be put to work on a farm. Anderson came up with the 28-day model to find a path for his patients to get sober and leave the hospital. Back then, it was innovative.

Marvin Ventrell, executive director of the National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers, has studied the model’s history. Ventrell says the month-long method comes from the belief that when-

“someone is suffering from addiction — and in the days that this began, we’re pretty much talking about alcoholism — it made sense to people that it took about four weeks to stabilize somebody.”

Ventrell went on to explain this is the norm because the insurance industry became willing to pay for a 28 day period of time. While many treatment providers believe we must adapt with the times, it would seem insurance companies aren’t so sure.

The Drawbacks

The early form of this 28 day model was designed for alcoholism. One big issue today is the model is used to treat opioid addiction. It is such a problem because recovering from addiction to powerful narcotic drugs just might be different than recovering from alcohol abuse. Therefore, it may require a different method. Yet, many still want to use the 28 day model as a cookie-cutter standard.

Now, to be fair Ventrell admits there isn’t enough research to prove the exact effective length for inpatient opioid addiction treatment. As we said, different individuals may have a different experience and require a different treatment plan. This is one reason why personalized recovery plans are so important.

Fletcher advocates it is incredibly important for treatment to move away from the default month-long model. 28 days is not going to work for everyone, and it would seem one of the biggest hurdles for those in the addiction treatment industry is convincing the insurance industry that the old “Minnesota model” isn’t always enough. 28 days may be enough for some people to make a beginning, but long-term recovery can be seriously influenced by more time learning about factors such as:

There are so many facets of recovery, it makes sense that the more time you have to learn them the more confident you can be in your ability to manage your recovery.

Make Time for Recovery

Besides the fact that giving people more time in a controlled environment can give them more time to focus on their recovery plan, there is also the element of dual diagnosis. While the 28 days model of treatment may have helped back in the 1950’s, we’ve learned a lot in the past 60+ years about addiction and other issues that co-exist.

Many people struggling with addiction are also having to battle with conditions pertaining to mental health disorders. Knowing what we know now, we see mental health disorders and addiction should be addressed simultaneously. If you ignore one, it can cause a relapse into the other later on. Various forms of mental illness can exist along with an addiction, including:

So for some, establishing a full diagnosis and then effectively engaging in the recovery process can take more time.

In the end, we should be making more time for individuals in need of treatment. Unfortunately, it can be an uphill battle with insurance companies. Some programs do exist that are extended inpatient programs, but these facilities still face resistance from insurers. At this point, it is about making the most out of the time you can get. Holistic drug treatment programs like Palm Partners emphasize the importance of exploring every area of recovery in detail, and design personalized recovery plans to make the time most efficient. Insurance companies may try to limit the opportunity, but the opportunity is still a real chance at real change.

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International Harm Reduction Conference 2015

International Harm Reduction Conference 2015

Author: Justin Mckibben

This past October the 24th International Harm Reduction Conference 2015 was held in Kuala Lumpur, and many accounts showed how there was some serious differences in the way drug policy is handled around the world, but it also brought some hope to many that the necessary change in culture and climate was coming for fighting stigma and establishing effective treatment for drug addicts.

So how did we see this issue on an international level, and how is harm reduction being set to make an impact?

Death Penalty for Drug Trafficking

Overall, 33 countries still have the death penalty on their books and about seven still hold regular executions including:

  • Indonesia
  • Singapore
  • Malaysia
  • China
  • Iran
  • Saudi Arabia

Oh yea… and the United States!

Although here in America it seems we don’t follow through nearly as much as some of the other countries on the list.

While the exact number of executions is unknown, since most of these countries carry them out in secret, executions for drug trafficking have caused international friction between countries on several occasions in the past few years.

The thing is, academic studies have reported an overwhelming average of information showing that the death penalty is not a sufficient method to deter drug trafficking or drug use. At the International Harm Reduction Conference a panel on death penalty policies exposed how statistically the disciplinary drug policies of the last few decades have been largely ineffective at stopping drug trafficking or even reducing addiction rates. But what it has done is contributed to major issues such as:

  • Widespread health disparities
  • Discrimination
  • Inhumane treatment of people who use drugs

Indonesian human rights lawyer, Ricky Gunawan, who represents death penalty cases said in a statement concerning this discussion at the conference:

It’s all political. Current policies are not effective at stopping drug use, only at sending the message that people who use drugs are not worthy of rights, dignity, or even life.”

Unfortunately, despite the fact that evidence of the derogatory effects of purely punitive drug policies is overwhelmingly clear, it’s still hard to convince public officials to change policy. Some other countries seem light-years away from America’s current uprising of compassionate and supportive alternatives to punishment for addicts.

The American Influence

In the 1980s after the US launched its own War on Drugs there were several institutions all over the world that created extreme and harsh penalties related to drug policy, and some say the War on Drugs inspired a more aggressive view of attacking drugs in other countries, making addicts the enemy instead of seeing they were the ones suffering.

Some have said that American policies have influenced the countries where we invest, and some other countries interpret the message created by the War on Drugs in America in a much more intense way: people who use drugs are not entitled to the same rights and protections as everyone else.

While we may not take things to such an extreme, other countries are not holding back when it comes to taking the rights away from users in order to try and smother the issue. But it was not all bad news.

Change the Contrast

When looking at the addiction and drug abuse issue on a global scale there is such a severe contrast in some views of drug policy. In more places harm reduction programs such as syringe exchange movements are a routine part of public health policy, like Europe and North America. But then many countries still believe harm reduction is not an acceptable route, while the concept of government funding is laughable, and advocates struggle for years to obtain small victories for basic human rights in order to save lives.

Rick Lines, executive director of Harm Reduction International, held up a briefing paper drafted by the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC) that stated:

“treating drug use for non-medical purposes and possession for personal consumption as criminal offences has contributed to public health problems and induced negative consequences for safety, security and human rights.”

The document was made in an effort to encourage Member States to consider decriminalizing drug use and possession for personal consumption.

The contrast to that was shortly before the conference, the UNODC released a statement claiming that the paper had been prematurely leaked and refused to endorse anything it said, which personally causes a great deal of confusion as to whether or not the United Nations will stand behind the statement on the page.

Hopefully harm reduction advocates will have an answer soon, as the UN General Assembly has called for a Special Session on Drugs in New York in 2016, the first time a session like this has been called since 1998. Harm reduction advocates are hopeful that the past decades of failed War on Drugs policies, which have only exacerbated disease and death with no decrease in drug manufacturing or use, will motivate the United Nations to actively pursue a path more humane and actively compassionate.

Police, politicians, educators and community leaders are constantly working together to try and create a change in perspective, and part of this shift is harm reduction. While it might not be the perfect solution, harm reduction is designed to keep people alive long enough to get the help they need that could save them from their addiction. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free e 1-800-951-6135

In Maryland, Gambling Addiction is Rampant; Treatment Options Lacking

In Maryland, Gambling Addiction is Rampant; Treatment Options Lacking

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

Author: Shernide Delva

Gambling can stimulate the brain’s rewards system much like drugs and alcohol can. Gambling addiction is a serious condition that can destroy lives. When gambling becomes addictive, it means you are willing to risk something in order to get something of even greater value. Sometimes this can mean straining relationships you have with your family and friends in order to satisfy the urge to gamble.

There is a state having a huge issue with gambling addiction and this time, it isn’t Nevada.  The tiny state of Maryland is home to one of the largest concentrated casino markets in the country. As gambling addiction continues to rise, few treatment centers options are available for resident causing their addiction to get worse.

In 2009, a state survey revealed that an estimated 150,000 residents suffer from moderate to severe gambling addiction. The state’s toll-free hotline for problem gambling has taken 619 calls in the past year from people struggling with compulsive gambling up. This number is up from 431 two years prior. Police were called on four different occasions on account of children and seniors being left unattended in cars while their parents or caregivers were inside gambling.

Clearly, the issue is increasing in severity every day. Over 893 problem gamblers, desperate to free themselves of their addiction, legally banned themselves from entering a casino through the state’s Voluntary Exclusion program. Casinos reported 37 people who were unable to follow through with the ban.

Unfortunately, there are no treatment options in Maryland to address gambling addiction. To make matters worse, most of these problem gamblers do not have health insurance or access to funds to cover private addiction treatment. The funds they could have used were gambled all away.

“When gamblers reach out to us, they’re in crisis … it’s out of control, they don’t have any money,” said Deborah Haskins, president of the Maryland Council on Problem Gambling. “When the person doesn’t have treatment as an option, it’s like you’re putting a brick wall in front of them. You’re commending them for taking the first steps, but then you have nothing else to provide them. It’s very frustrating.”

Each year, casinos in Maryland are required to contribute to the state’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene that addresses problem gambling. The casino’s pay $425 per slot machine and $500 per table game each year. The funds only came to only $4 million last fiscal year. Most of the money ended up going to the Maryland Center of Excellence on Problem Gambling. The program focuses on increasing the amount of gambling addiction counselors and running the addiction hotline, among other services, but it’s not used for actual treatment

Vegas Came To Maryland

So I’m writing this wondering how a state like Maryland ended up so massive on the casino bandwagon. Five years ago, Maryland had just opened its first casino. Since then, four more have debuted and a giant $1.3 billion resort casino, MGM National Harbor, is set to open next year.

From a financial standpoint, Maryland is cashing in big time. The state took in $1 billion in the last fiscal year. Out of that money, the state’s cut was $487 million and $388 was used for Maryland’s Education Trust Funds.

It’s clear the state made a worthwhile financial investment but the consequences for addiction are all too real.  Gambling is one of the most deceptive of all human vices. It presents the illusion of easy money but can quickly lead into financial ruin. The odds are never in your favor when the purpose of the system is to make a profit.

As a result of the financial stress gambling addiction results in, often gamblers turn to drugs, alcohol and other addictive behavior to alleviate the anxiety brought on by the gambling lifestyle. They may struggle with drug and alcohol addiction for the rest of their life after years of self-medicating to deal with the stress. The stress of it call can result in strained relationships and isolation.

Maryland’s economy continues to thrive from the casino industry however compulsive gamblers have to deal with the consequences of their actions. These consequences include everything from home foreclosure and bankruptcies to domestic abuse, robberies and embezzlement.

Gambling in America costs the United States between $32.4 billion to $53.8 billion per year. The long term costs outweigh the economic benefits by a greater than 3:1 ration. Maryland has a choice to progress toward providing treatment and solutions to the gambling addiction crisis before it gets out of control. The consequences could overpower the risks.

If you feel you are starting to develop an addiction to gambling, seek help before the addiction takes control of your life. Luckily, there is help. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135


Turning in Drugs for Free Treatment: New Drug Program Sees Early Success

Turning in Drugs for Free Treatment: New Drug Program Sees Early Success

Author: Justin Mckibben

A short time ago in May we reported on an amazing new program starting up in a Massachusetts town geared toward helping addicts and setting a new standard in the clash against the opiate epidemic. State officials were developing and promoting a new strategy for addressing the escalating issue of drug abuse and overdose death in their area by offering a revolutionary three-pronged program.

The Gloucester Program

The outline of the program was to provide three major resources:

  1. Give addicts who surrender drugs immediate help with detox and recovery without any legal action.
  2. Put nasal naloxone in the hands of addicts, families, and caregivers to prevent overdose death.
  3. Offer addicts caught in possession of narcotics the chance to avoid any criminal record by immediately enrolling in and completing an inpatient recovery program, through a partnership with the district attorney’s office.

Well I am now excited to report that so far it appears this awesome new tactic is already paying off.

Gloucester Police Chief Leonard Campanello led the charge for this unique method, and spoke avidly about his own excitement from the resounding rally of support behind the project in the stage where it was still just an idea.

According to Campanello, upon turning themselves in the program’s participants are no longer escorted to the local emergency room for evaluation. Now a clinician works with them on a treatment plan and facility location.

A volunteer “angel” remains with the person through the three hour process treatment plan process, and sometimes this “angel” is in fact a former addict themselves, giving their time to help a fellow addict find their way to treatment and encouraging their efforts.

Money Talks

A big draw for a lot of officials on the outside looking in is the claims that extra costs have been “minimal” for the police department, and have all been paid using some of the city’s drug seizure money!

Costs of drug treatment for participants, who are Massachusetts residents with no insurance plans or plans covering treatment, are covered by state funding. So an addict who feels hopeless and helpless without insurance to pay for their treatment is given free treatment paid for by the state simply for showing up and handing over their using utensils.

AND money taken from drug dealers is used to cover all extra costs of aiding the addicts those drugs have created, how amazing is that?!

Although most addicts have been placed in substance abuse treatment programs in Massachusetts, service providers across the country also have stepped up to lend their services. According to Campanello, 22 agencies in 15 states have even agreed to pay for the treatment of those without health insurance!

So while the program originates in this one fishing-town, people all over the country are inspired to reach out and take part in this remedial movement.

Exciting Early Progress

Now Gloucester has voiced the early signs of a victory, with 17 people addicted to opioids such as heroin, morphine and oxycodone taking the police department’s offer to turn over their drugs and paraphernalia without fear of arrest as long as they agree to enter treatment on the spot.

17 people might not sound like a huge success if you are focused on the statistics of how many people are dying annually from opiate related circumstances, but for the seaside community of about 29,000, Campanello said it is more than 3 times the number of people who have died of drug overdoses this year, and the program just started June 1st!

And let’s be real. Every life matters. So if it saved one life, it was well worth the efforts. 17 so far being given the opportunity is amazing, and the success in Gloucester has caught the attention of other communities.

Campanello admitted the department didn’t see a single addict take the offer on the first day the program launched. But since then there have been about one to two addicts a day, on average. That means 17 is sure to turn into a wave of admits as hopeless addicts march toward a recovery made more possible than ever.

Spreading the Word

Campanello is all about spreading the word, and understandably so. He believes this brand of initiative needs to become more widespread, and recently commented,

“We need to get people into treatment. If they fail, we need to get them into treatment again. Just keep trying. Arresting them or coercing them into treatment just doesn’t work.”

The program has reached a variety of supporters impressed with the work it is doing, including:

  1. Mayor of Boston

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh has definitely taken notice of the program, and he has stated he’s already considering adopting the policy for New England’s largest city, describing it as a “great idea and a great pilot program.”

  1. John Rosenthal

The growing interest even impelled Gloucester resident and Boston-area businessman John Rosenthal to help Campanello launch a privately funded nonprofit to support the effort.

Rosenthal has endorsed that long term this program “has the potential to change national drug and treatment policy.”

Rosenthal said the Police Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative will assist with a few key factors for multiplying the effect of the program, including:

  • Coordinate treatment for addicts
  • Support studies looking at the long-term effectiveness of the initiative
  • Help other cities and towns replicate the efforts

Experts say the Gloucester program is unique, standing all on its own compared to the entire country, and more and more seem to stop and take notes.

I have to say I was genuinely thrilled when I wrote the first article about this idea during the blue-print stage. Now seeing that in just a few weeks it has already inspired a clear and confident response, I salute this police department and other officials involved. I hope more police forces in this nation will replicate this outreach to their own communities, and that we evolve into a society determined to help each other even when it’s harder to do so.

Taking advantage of one incredible opportunity can be the catalyst that changes everything, and while it may seem like drugs and alcohol have you cornered there is always a way. Palm Partners wants to help you find that way. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135




Should Scientology Be Permitted New Drug Treatment Center?

Should Scientology Be Permitted New Drug Treatment Center?

Author: Justin Mckibben

Since drug and alcohol addict has been treated exclusively there have pretty much always been treatment programs that revolve around religious ideals. Narconon’s practices have been invariably derived directly from Scientology’s religious doctrines with only minimal changes to obscure their origins. Now there are plans to build a new Scientology-affiliated addiction treatment center in Maryland on the site of a former presidential retreat, but according to recent reports this new proposal has reportedly been met with opposition.

Notes on Narconon

Narconon is an international drug rehabilitation organization founded back in 1966 which currently claims a presence in 26 countries around the world, but while it also boasts of an alarmingly high success rate it has openly been criticized on these claims due to the details of the studies on the success rates being almost impossibly hard to obtain. Allegedly because Narconon does not seem to want to distribute them even though it publicizes their “conclusions”, which have systematically been misquoted or misrepresented.

The Narconon program uses treatment methods developed by Church of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard. Much of Narconon’s critics state that the Narconon “science” is based on provably false scientific statements by Hubbard, and the research which Narconon is allegedly based upon has never been published or scientifically approved. Keys aspects of their programs include:

  • Drug-Free Withdrawal

This is the equivalent to going “cold turkey”, meaning an addict is expected to stopping all drugs at once and deal with the resulting physical and mental pain of detox with vitamin doses and “assists”, a form of spiritual healing.

  • Therapeutic TRs Course

A series of drills performed with another person that is intended to “bring about interaction between the individual and the existing physical universe”.

  • New Life Detoxification Program

Intensive schedule of running, massive overdoses of vitamins and very long sauna sessions, designed to “run out” drugs and radiation from the body (the body cannot sweat out radiation, but Scientology says it does).

  • Life Improvement Courses

Short courses aimed to improve a person’s ability to study, communicate and exercise moral judgments. This kind of treatment seems trapped in the mindset that addiction is a moral dilemma and not a disease.


Some have also said that Narconon is based on “bogus science” which puts clients at serious risks for and threatens their safety. These claims got a lot of attention back in 2012, when there were a series of deaths, 3 in a 9 month period, at one of the facilities in near the town of Canadian, Oklahoma.

That controversy came to a head when 2 former Narconon executives spoke out in the news against the program. The former president of the Oklahoma facility and a former executive at a Narconon facility in Michigan came forward to expose what they called deceitful marketing techniques and under-qualified staff, and that shed new light on an investigation that has since tarnished the Narconon name.

Taking all this into account, the bid for them to open a new facility in Maryland is finding it harder and harder to make headway in their efforts to get approval.

Ever since the release of the documentary on HBO Going Clear about exposing the Church of Scientology, which is highly critical of the religion, the organization has been under a magnifying glass. But many celebrities like Kirstie Alley credit Narconon with helping beat their addictions, and have gone on record to defend the church.

The Fight in Maryland

Narconon now fights for their ambitions to establish a “residential drug rehabilitation center” at Trout Run, a 40-acre camp in Frederick County, Md., that was visited by Herbert Hoover, Franklin Roosevelt, and Dwight Eisenhower.

Scientology has even been criticized in the past for the various extensions of the church manipulating circumstances to meet its needs, and now the church’s real estate arm and Narconon have requested the property to be designated for historic preservation, which would allow them to make changes otherwise banned by zoning laws.

Many local council members expressed concerns this week based on skepticism about Scientology. One speaker pointed out the power-play by the real estate extension of the church, claiming Narconon is “going through the back end” to get the appropriate licensing for the center, leading residents to regard the organization as dishonest. Frederick County council voted to postpone the decision until April 21 to allow for more public consideration, and at this point it’s not looking too promising.

While opinions on the Narconon program are shrouded with controversy and confusion, hidden behind the exclusivity of its founding religion, there are still many programs out there to help those who struggle with drugs or alcohol to overcome the obstacles they may face in obtaining sobriety, and with a holistic approach Palm Partners is proud to actively help men and women from all walks of life find a path to recovery. 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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