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Should We Have Seen Chester Bennington’s Suicide Coming?

 Linkin Park Singer Chester Bennington Commits Suicide

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

Author: Shernide Delva

Another devastating tragedy in music occurred on Thursday.

Chester Bennington, the lead singer of Linkin Park, was found dead at just 41 years old due to an apparent suicide. Brian Ellis, the chief of operations for the LA County coroner’s office, confirmed the death hours after it was reported by a TMZ article.

The death struck similarities to the death of Sound Garden frontman Chris Cornell, who killed himself in May. Chester Bennington was very close to Cornell, and his suicide occurred on  Cornell’s birthday.

On the day of Chris Cornell’s suicide, Bennington wrote an open letter expressing his grief.

“I can’t imagine a world without you in it,” he wrote.

“I pray you find peace in the next life.”

The Era of Linkin Park

Linkin Park had a string of mega-hits over the years, including “Faint,” “In the End” and “Crawling.” Linkin Park even crossed music genres, collaborating with Jay-Z. The Linkin Park album, “Meteora,” was one of the biggest alternative albums in music history.

The death is a shock to millions of fans; however, Chester Bennington’s struggle with addiction and mental illness is not something he was ever private about. Bennington has opened up various times throughout his career about his struggles with substance abuse and mental illness.

In a recent interview, Bennington elaborated on what he had to overcome over the past few years. In 2015, Bennington broke his ankle while playing basketball.  The ankle injury forced the band to cancel all of the tour dates they had remaining for The Hunting Party Tour that year.

Stone Temple Pilot guitarist, Dean Deleo, talked with radio station WAAF-FM about how severe the injury was:

“He hurt himself badly. It was not only a break — the guy tore darn near every ligament in his ankle,” DeLeo says to host Mistress Carrie. “They had to go in on each side. He has about a five-inch incision on each side. They had to go in and assemble a big bowl of spaghetti.”

Talks of Depression and Addiction Issues

In May of this year, Bennington talked about how his ankle injury took a significant toll on his life.

“I needed reconstructive surgery and like plates and screws and more surgery,” he says. “It was like ‘wow.’ It was nasty, and that kind took me into a depression.”

Bennington says he started falling into bad habits due to the severity of the injury.

“I got to a point where I was like medicating, kind of having issues with that, kind of like falling into old habits, into old behaviors.”

This was not Bennington’s first injury. He says injuries have been an ongoing part of his life since 30. He described it as a tumultuous cycle of rehabbing injuries, reinjuring himself, and undergoing multiple surgeries.

Along with the stress of his injuries, the hardships of life continued to take their toll.

“Being in Linkin Park, it has a lot of perks, and it’s really a fun life, and it’s a blessed life. I get to do what I do with really talented exceptionally decent people,” he says.
“At the same time like none of us are immune from just sh*t happening to you and not to you but just making poor choices or being human. There’s always that element.”

Bennington talked about the band’s newest single “Heavy” and the challenges that inspired the song. He explains in the interview how problems started to stack one on top of the other.

“Life got really weird and really hard all at one time,” he says.

“It was like one of our friends died from cancer, my step dad died of cancer.  I broke my leg and had to rehab that for a year. I quit Stone Temple Pilots because it was just too much. I felt bad about that, and then I was depressed and drinking again and doing all this stuff and I was like ‘Dude, this is crazy.’”

“I even told one of my therapists at one point that I just don’t want to feel anything,” he admits.

On Surrendering Control:

Although Bennington talks about his struggles throughout the interview, he remains positive.  He learned to surrender to life instead of always having to be in control.

“I find myself personally when I’m stuck, it’s because I haven’t just surrendered to the process of life.  I’m trying to like be in there and do things my way. I’m trying to steer the ship or whatever,” he says, “There were a few times over the last couple years when I was kinda ready to throw in the towel and give up on everything.

The band was promoting their new album and tour and had dates set for the rest of the year.

Bennington is survived by six children and his wife, model Talinda Ann Bentley.

“I came to a point in my life where I was like, ‘I can either just give up and f—ing die or I can f—ing fight for what I want.’ And I chose to fight for what I wanted,” he says in the interview obtained by The Mirror. “I wanted to have good relationships. I wanted to love the people in my life. I wanted to enjoy my job.”

As a long-time fan of Linkin Park, I was devastated by the news of his death. Mental illness and addiction were challenges that plagued the singer’s life for decades. Still, in recent interviews, Bennington appeared to be making progress.

However, this simply confirms how serious mental illness is. It is not something that is easily understood, and none of us really know what pushed Chester Bennington to his breaking point. Regardless, the stigma has to stop. If you or anyone you know is struggling with mental illness, please reach out. There is help out there. Call now.

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This Gene Could Play a Major Role in Depression

This Gene Could Play a Major Role in Depression

Author: Shernide Delva 

Each year, more than 300 million people are affected by depression. Depression is a debilitating illness that is difficult to treat.

What if there was one gene that played a key role in depression? Furthermore, what if that gene could be identified and even manipulated to actually treat depression?

Shockingly, this could all be a possibility. Researchers have discovered a gene that may play a central role in depression.  This gene either protects us from stress or triggers a downward spiral depending on its level of activity.

The study was conducted by researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine (UM SOM). It was the first to pinpoint in detail how one particular gene, known as Slc6a15, is a key role in depression. The study found the same link in both animals and humans.

“This study really shines a light on how levels of this gene in these neurons affects mood,” said the senior author of the study, Mary Kay Lobo, an assistant professor in the Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology.

“It suggests that people with altered levels of this gene in certain brain regions may have a much higher risk for depression and other emotional disorders related to stress.”

Potential Treatment Solution?

A study like this could help with treating depression in the future, and that help is desperately needed.

Nearly 800,000 people die annually from suicide. It is the second leading cause of death among people between the ages of 15 to 29. Beyond that, depression destroys the quality of life for tens of millions of patients, and their families suffer too. Although environmental factors play a significant role in many cases of depression, genetics are equally as important.

This is not the first time this gene was studied. Back in 2006, Dr. Lobo and her colleagues found that the Slc6a15 gene was common in specific neurons in the brain. They recently demonstrated that these neurons were important in depression.

Connection to Anhedonia

Her lab decided to investigate the specific role these neurons have in depression. In the latest study, she and her team focused on a particular area of the brain called the nucleus accumbens. This region is crucial in the brain’s “reward circuit.”

When you eat a delicious meal or participate in any kind of enjoyable experience, neurons in the nucleus accumbens are activated letting you know the experience is enjoyable. When a person is depressed, it ‘s hard to experience any kind of enjoyment, a condition known as anhedonia.

Researchers discovered subset neurons in the nucleus accumbens called D2 neurons. These neurons respond to the neurotransmitter dopamine, which plays a central role in the reward circuit.

Mainly, these subset neurons responded to feel good chemicals like dopamine which is lacking in those with depression. Next, they studied mice susceptible to depression. These mice tended to withdraw from activities and exhibit behavior indicating depression such as social withdrawal and lack of interest in the food they would normally enjoy.

Dr. Lobo found that when the mice were subject to social stress, the levels of the Slc6a15 gene in the D2 neurons of the nucleus accumbens was noticeably reduced. The researchers also studied mice in which the gene had been reduced in D2 neurons. When those mice were subjected to stress, they also exhibited signs of depression. Furthermore, when researchers increased the levels of Slc6a15 levels in D2 neurons, the mice showed a resilient response to stress.

So what does this mean?

Next, Dr. Lobo looked at brains of humans who had a history of major depression and who had committed suicide. In the same region of the brain as the mice, the gene Slc6a15 was reduced. This indicates that the link between gene and behavior is found in both humans and mice.

In the future, manipulating these genes could help improve depression. While it is still unclear how Slc6a15 operates in the brain, Dr. Lobo states it may work by altering neurotransmitter levels in the brain.

This research could lead to therapies that focus specifically on this particular gene to treat depression. If you are struggling with substance abuse or mental illness, call now. Do not wait.

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‘True Blood’ Star Nelsan Ellis Died from Heart Failure Due to Alcohol Withdrawal

'True Blood' Star Nelsan Ellis Died from Heart Failure Due to Alcohol Withdrawal

Author: Shernide Delva

True Blood star Nelsan Ellis passed away from heart failure due to attempting to detox from alcohol on his own. The 39-year-old actor is best known for his role as Lafayette Reynold’s on the HBO hit. Reports originally stated the actor’s death was due to heart complications. No other details were stated. However, days later the actor’s family opened up about the cause of death as a “cautionary tale” to help others.

Rather than shy away, the family of Nelsan Ellis revealed that it was a long battle with alcoholism that ultimately led to Ellis’ death.

The Illinois-born actor studied at the prestigious New York performing arts school Juilliard and played the role of Lafayette on True Blood from 2008-2014. More recently, he was working on the CBS detective series Elementary.

Prior to his death, Ellis was attempting to quit drinking. According to the reports, Ellis felt shame about his drinking and had already gone to rehab a few times before. Therefore, he decided to hide his drinking and quit on his own.

Detoxing from alcohol without medical supervision can result in a variety of medical issues including heart failure.

Warning: Alcohol Withdrawals are Deadly!

It is so important others learn from Ellis’ mistake to stop drinking on his own. Many people are unaware of how severe alcohol withdrawals are. In fact, alcohol withdrawals are more dangerous than any other drugs, even prescription painkillers, and heroin.

In severe cases alcohol withdrawals can result in:

  • Severe tremors
  • Racing heartbeat
  • High blood pressure
  • Seizures
  • Brain Damage

Alcohol leads to more deaths than all other drugs combined. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAA) estimates that alcohol causes 88,000 deaths every year.

Nelsan Ellis’ Family Comes Forward to Help Others

It was very brave of the family to come forward with the reality of their loved one’s condition. The original news reports released after the actor’s death did not mention anything regarding the actor’s alcoholism. It would have been extremely easy for the family not to say anything and go along with the reports

Instead, they released a statement so that others struggling with alcoholism know the importance of seeking treatment before it is too late.

“Nelsan has suffered with drug and alcohol abuse for years,” the actor’s manager said on behalf of the family.

“After many stints in rehab, Nelsan attempted to withdraw from alcohol on his own. According to his father, during his withdrawal from alcohol he had a blood infection, his kidneys shut down, his liver was swollen, his blood pressure plummeted, and his dear sweet heart raced out of control.”’

“On the morning of Saturday, July 8th, after four days in Woodhull Hospital, Nelsan was pronounced dead. Nelsan was a gentle, generous and kind soul…Nelsan was ashamed of his addiction and thus was reluctant to talk about it during his life. His family, however, believes that in death he would want his life to serve as a cautionary tale in an attempt to help others.”

From the statement, it is evident the family decided to make the death of their loved one a warning to others. Many addicts would rather hide in shame or attempt to detox on their own instead of getting the help they desperately need.

Alcohol withdrawals vary from person to person, and for some, detoxing without medical supervision is highly risky. Individuals may experience what is known as delirium tremens (DTs) characterized by disorientation, severe agitation, rapid heartbeat, high blood pressure, and fever.

DTs can last up to 3 or 4 days, according to Dr. Richard Saitz in “Introduction to Alcohol Withdrawal,” a paper published on the website of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA).

“About 5% of patients who experience DTs die from metabolic or cardiovascular complications, trauma or infections,” Saitz state.

One should never detox on their own.

This unfortunate death serves as a message to those considering withdrawing from drugs on their own. Don’t do it.  The detox process should be monitored by medical professionals that can provide the tools needed to do so safely.

Overall, we must commend Nelsan Ellis’ family for choosing to come forward about the adored actor’s condition. The stigma of addiction prevents addicts from seeking treatment. Do not try to fight your addiction on your own. Instead, call today. We are waiting for your call.

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Celebrity Rehab Host Dr. Drew Blames Opioid Epidemic on Doctors

Celebrity Rehab Host Dr. Drew Blames Opioid Epidemic on Doctors

Celebrity Rehab Host Dr. Drew Blames Opioid Epidemic on Doctors

Dr. Drew Pinsky, a board-certified addictions specialist, famous as the host of Celebrity Rehab With Dr. Drew, recently responded to a New York Times analysis. The analysis revealed that drug-related deaths have spiked to 19% across the country in 2016.  According to the report, drug overdoses are now the leading cause of death for Americans under 50.

In response, Dr. Drew says this epidemic was brought on by the doctors. He blames doctors who continued prescribing opioids to patients despite their awareness of the high risk of addiction.

“The reason we have all these heroin addicts is because physicians over-prescribed opiates and then cut these patients off as opposed to getting them treatment,” he said recently on KABC radio. “And when you cut an opiate addict off, the state they’re in requires they find an alternative source of opiates. The cheapest best route now—fentanyl.”

Although his words are quite direct, they hold true.

Last week, an article published in The New England Journal of Medicine argued that the medical community wrongly cited a small 1980s editorial to repeatedly claim that opioids did not have highly addictive qualities.

“The crisis arose in part because physicians were told that the risk of addiction was low when opioids were prescribed for chronic pain. A one-paragraph letter that was published in the Journal in 1980 was widely invoked in support of this claim, even though no evidence was provided by the correspondents,” the editorial reads.

Essentially, doctors were using a letter rather than a clinical evidence to validate the claim that opioids were not addictive. This led many patients into believing that the medications they were using would not cause any form of dependence.

Addiction Stigma Further Wreaks Havoc

Furthermore, Dr. Drew states stigma surrounding addiction prevents doctors from addressing any concerns they may feel regarding their patients.

“They are afraid of the term addiction. They feel as though diagnosing someone with addiction is somehow judging them,” he continued.

Doctors who regularly prescribe opioids are at the root of the problem, Dr. Drew states, because the chances of dependence are high, and patients are often unaware of how real the risk really is.

“70 to 80% of people develop disabling consequences from their relationship with opiates,” Dr. Drew said,

The problem is when doctors continue to prescribe opioids despite the high risk of addiction, or worse, cut off a patient’s supply to opioids without providing some sort of addiction treatment option.

Patient Satisfaction is King

There is also a mindset in medicine that must abide by the patient when it comes to pain management.

“The discipline holds that ‘pain is what the patient says it is. Who are we to say when we have pain control? Pain control is achieved when the patient says it’s achieved.’ And that group will only admit to the fact that perhaps 30% of the patients get a little bit of a problem,” he said.

Stigma around addiction keeps physicians from talking to their patients about the risks of dependence. This leads to long-term dependence. While there have been regulations in place to prevent abuse, this often backfires.

Many people who were once dependent on opioid prescriptions turn to heroin due to the increased availability and decreased price cost. Heroin varies significantly in strength and many strands contain powerful substances like fentanyl which lead to overdose fatalities.

The opioid epidemic is a complex problem with a myriad of potential solutions. However, it is uncertain what solution will boast the best results.  If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free now.

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What Is the Real Measure of Success in Recovery?

What Is the Real Measure of Success in Recovery?

Author: Justin Mckibben

Working in the blogging and social media sector of the world-wide web you get to see a lot of differences of opinion on a lot of topics; from the most mainstream to the most infamously controversial. In fact, pretty much anyone with a Facebook or Twitter account has exposure on a regular basis to a variety of intense debates and collective views. Of course another thing the internet does is provide us with perspective and statistics, and some of those data inventories actually make a strong impact on our own opinions. However, some figures may miss the mark when it comes to truly all-inclusive data. This is especially true when it comes to the measure of success in recovery from addiction.

Some people claim that the majority of support groups and programs don’t have very impressive or even adequate rates of success in recovery. Others will go as far as to claim that these support groups and recovery programs hurt more than they help. If you dig deep enough, there are plenty of people claiming that nothing out there works for helping addicts and alcoholics who need help.

But is that accurate? Truthfully, I have more than enough reason to doubt these claims for a very simple reason…

Who is truly capable of quantifying someone else’s “success”?

Instead of asking if drug treatment is successful, maybe we should be asking the real question… what is the real measure of success in recovery?

Talking about Treatment

Back in 2013 TIME magazine wrote that because there is no standard definition or what “rehab” is, there is no standard metric for measuring their success. The therapeutic community at one point said they could only claim a 30% success rate. However, the source also indicated that they only count ‘success’ by those who complete the entire program, and between 70% and 80% of people drop out of aftercare around 3-6 months after treatment. To sum that up, some people just stop reporting on their progress, so their ‘success’ could not be confirmed.

Other treatment providers will measure their success rates on how many patients report being completely abstinent for an extended time after leaving treatment. However, as we discuss later in the article, abstinence is not the requirement in the definition of success.

The fact is, because there are various addiction treatment models, to measure the success of recovery based on the numbers even treatment providers themselves gather is actually inappropriate and ineffective.

Focusing on the Fallen

When was the last time you saw a story on the news about an overdose victim? These days if we go 24 hours without seeing one it is surprising, right?

Well… when was the last time you saw a story on the news about a recovered addict who owns their own business, or is working a 9-5 and volunteering in their community? When was the last time you saw a breaking report about the alcoholic who went home to be an amazing parent to their newborn child or started a foundation to help the less fortunate?

I’ll wait…

I thought so. But allow me to blow your mind… because these people do exist!

This is probably one of the greatest injustices dealt to the recovery community. I’ve written about this before, and about how changing the communities views means overcoming stigma. Media outlets are always itching to give a dramatic account of every drug overdose or crime committed by an addict. Thus, that is all the rest of the world sees. It should be no surprise that people claim the recovery programs and support groups are failing, because no one pats you on the back for being a decent person. The only time people seem to applaud recovering addicts in the media is when they’re a celebrity.

It is easy to claim that drug addiction treatment doesn’t work when someone only focuses on the overdose rates in their community. It is easy to point to the individuals who have fallen, who need another chance at getting healthy, and say they are proof that the institutions are broken. Raising awareness on all those who still need help is important, but it is counterproductive to use them as indication that no progress is being made.

Anonymous Recovery

One conflict with measuring success is with 12 Step programs, mainly because they are anonymous programs. As a member of a 12 Step program I am definitely not trying to discredit these methods. The reality is true success rates of 12 Step programs are such a matter of contention because the standard of anonymity. Many people will simply not wish to be involved in studies based on their desire to remain anonymous.

When trying to debate the success rates of 12 Step programs we have to take any statistics with a heaping serving of salt. Out of the pieces of data available, those numbers are not an all-encompassing assessment.

Also, the only data for success in recovery from 12 Step groups is ongoing sobriety percentages, measured by years. And just about any member will tell you time does not equate sobriety. And limited data means the programs may help people to find a meaningful life, but if they do not remain members then they are not included in those success rates.

Some will only measure their success in recovery on a 24 hour basis, because they take life a day at a time.

Even 12 Step literature will point out that they have no monopoly on spirituality or recovery. 12 Step literature acknowledges that some people reach a point where their drug abuse or drinking caused great physical, personal and professional damage, but after intervention and treatment some can turn their lives around without a 12 Step program. Of course abstinence is often suggested as the best course of action for most recovering addicts and alcoholics. Once drugs or drinking create enough devastation, turmoil and helplessness many people find it is far too late to ever go back. Yet, abstinence is not necessarily the requirement for “success in recovery”.

Success in Recovery is Subjective: Speak Up

What truly transcends the debate over effective drug treatment is how we measure success in recovery in the first place. How do we decide someone is successful in life? Because isn’t that what recovery is; building a life that is happy and whole? So how do we calculate the extent of someone else’s transformation?

In essence, that is what we are talking about; discovering a fulfilled and meaningful shift that allows freedom to pursue happiness and connection. Given this description, success in recovery is definitively subjective. The meaning of recovery is more conjectural.

The measure of successful recovery should be a more fulfilled life.

Not just with material wealth, prestige or surface value but with connection, contribution and genuine gratitude. In the end, men and women who struggle with drug abuse or alcoholism recover in innumerable ways. Some turn to religious bodies, while others thrive on support groups. Some focus on physical fitness and mindfulness. There is no way to measure every success story, because they are life-long journeys through self-awareness. Each puzzle piece makes a different picture.

In order to show that there is hope, I hope more of us speak up about our experiences in recovery from alcoholism and addiction. There is so much emphasis on the bad, there is more of a need than ever to show the world something good. This means shattering the stigma that stands against us. People will never know we can succeed if we don’t try to show them how we already have. Recovery from addiction should be outspoken more often. Not because I think anonymity isn’t important; I have great respect for the traditions of 12 Step fellowships.

But… I do believe that if we don’t speak up for ourselves, stigma is going to keep speaking for us.

Every community, including yours, is filled with people who have empowering and inspiring success stories after overcoming drugs and alcohol. It all begins with a foundation. It is up to you to measure your success, but it’s also up to you to take action and make your success story possible. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free now.

 

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