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Dialectical Behavioral Therapy: Selena Gomez Says DBT Changed Her Life

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy: The Therapy Selena Gomez Says Changed Her Life

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Author: Shernide Delva

Recently, a form of therapy has garnered massive media attention. It is known as Dialectical Behavioral Therapy or DBT. Even Selena Gomez said it changed her life. Around August of last year, Gomez abruptly ended her Revival tour to recover from “anxiety, panic attacks, and depression,” she states was a result of her lupus condition. She says DBT specifically, allowed her to relearn the coping tools she desperately needed.

But what is DBT?

Dialectical behavioral therapy is a type of cognitive-behavioral psychotherapy used to treat multiple types of mental health disorders. The theory behind the approach is that certain people are prone to react in an intense manner toward certain emotional situations, primarily those found in romantic, family or friend relationships. Often, DBT is used to treat patients with borderline personality disorder or bipolar disorder.

DBT suggests certain people have a higher sensitivity to emotional stimuli. Their emotions tend to spike more quickly than the average person. Because of this, it takes time for them to recover emotionally after experiencing these spikes in emotions.

For example, people with borderline personality disorder struggle with extreme swings in their emotions. They see the world in black-and-white shades, and always jump from one crisis to another. Those around them do not understand their reactions, so this isolates their behavior even more. They lack the coping strategies of dealing with their high surges in emotion. That’s where DBT comes in. DBT teaches them to handle their emotions better.

DBT in three formats:

  • Support-oriented:

    DBT focuses on helping a person identify their strengths and build on them so they can feel better about themselves and their future.

  • Cognitive-Based:

    DBT helps with identifying the thoughts, beliefs, and assumptions that make life harder. For example, the need for perfectionism is a common theme in many people’s lives. The need to be perfect may prevent someone from succeeding entirely. Therefore, DBT helps people acquire new ways of thinking that makes life more bearable. Another common emotion is anger. A person may feel if they get angry, it is their fault, and they are a horrible person. DBT teaches that anger is a natural human emotion.

  • Collaborative:

    DBT works in a collaborative environment. Patients are encouraged to work out any relationship conflicts they may have with their therapist and therapists are told to do the same. DBT asks patients to complete homework assignments, role-play and practice coping skills. Then, the individual therapist works one-on-one with the patient to help them master their DBT skills.

Typically, dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) has two main components:

  1. Individual weekly psychotherapy sessions:

    These emphasize problem-solving behaviors for the past week’s issues and troubles that arose in a person’s life. Any self-injurious or suicidal behaviors take priority, followed by any problems that could interfere with the therapy process. The weekly sessions in DBT focus on decreasing and dealing with post-traumatic stress response from previous trauma and helping a person enhance their self-worth.

  2. Weekly group therapy sessions:

    A trained DBT therapist will lead sessions where people learn skills related to interpersonal effectiveness, distress tolerance/reality acceptance skills, emotion regulation, and mindfulness skills.

The Four Modules of Dialectical Behavior Therapy

Furthermore, there are four modules of dialectical behavioral therapy. They focus on:

  • Emotion Regulation:

    Individuals who are suicidal or borderline struggle with emotional intensity. They benefit in learning how to regulate their emotions. Furthermore, DBT teaches skills for emotional regulation such as:

    • Identifying and labeling emotions
    • Identifying obstacles to changing emotions
    • Reducing vulnerability to “emotion mind.”
    • Increasing positive emotional events
    • Increasing mindfulness to current emotions
    • Taking opposite action
  • Distress Tolerance:

    Lastly, this area approaches mental health by changing distressing events and circumstances. Individuals learn to bear pain skillfully. They learn to accept themselves and the current situation. While the focus is on nonjudgmental thinking, this does not mean they must approve of the reality: “Acceptance of reality is not approval of reality.”

  • Interpersonal Effectiveness:

    This principle focuses on asking what one needs and learning to say no. It also emphasizes coping with interpersonal conflict. Those with borderline personality disorder usually have good interpersonal skills. They may lack the skills necessary for generating or analyzing their personal circumstances. This part of DBT focuses on applying coping skills in their particular situation.

  • Mindfulness:

    In DBT, patients learn the core principles of mindfulness.  The focus is on emphasizing what tasks are necessary to practice core mindfulness skills. Furthermore, this area concentrates on the “how” skills and allows the individual to incorporate mindfulness into their daily lives.


Therapy is an essential tool in early recovery. Whether you are struggling with addiction or mental illness, it is crucial to take the first step in transforming your life. Do not feel ashamed if you are currently battling a mental illness or addiction. Instead, take charge of your life by seeking the assistance of professionals. We are waiting for your call. Do not wait. Call today.

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Could Mental Health Security System be the Future of Public Safety?

Could Mental Health Security System be the Future of Public Safety?

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Author: Justin Mckibben

If there are any other nerds out there like me, you may have come across an abstract animated series called Psycho-pass that rose in popularity a few years back in 2012. The show’s name fits firmly into the primary premise of the show, an authoritarian future dystopia, where omnipresent public sensors ceaselessly scan the mental states of every passing citizen. In the TV show, collected data on both present mentality and aggregated personality data is used to gauge the probability of an individual committing a crime, the rating referred to as that citizen’s Psycho-Pass. Law enforcement and public security utilizes technology tracking mental health of citizens in order to premeditate possible threats. The characters chase criminals who the system deems emotionally or psychologically at risk, and the show adds a few good twists of suspense and philosophical paradox.

Needless to say, I am a big fan of the series.

So of course, seeing a headline explaining a new research project that could make this kind of system a reality, it stirs up some curiosity. This abstract concept of machines reading the psychological profiles of everyday people as a security measure has jumped right out of the world of scifi-fantasy and could soon be another innovation that changes our world.

Could a mental health security system for the future of public safety?

How the Mental Health Security System Works

According to a new piece of research, published in the International Journal of Advanced Intelligence Paradigms, a mental health security system is being developed that gives an analyses of the user’s brainwaves.

Most modern security systems require a PIN or password. Other biometric-based systems require a fingerprint or scans of an iris or retina. We have already seen this kind of stuff in the movies; voice-activated locks, palm-print thermal safes and other cool high-tech gadgets. Now, Violeta Tulceanu of the University of Iasi is adding a truly unique aspect to security; the emotion detector.

Upon reading the brainwaves the system is designed to automatically determine whether the user is in a fit mental state. After the test is complete the system will grant access to resources, but only if deemed appropriate.

Violeta Tulceanu states:

“The true engine of motivation is our capacity to perceive pleasure and fear pain, and thus, reward and punishment,”

“Our ability to react to dangerous situations is directly related to our capacity to relate to our environment, and our sense of self-preservation.”

In the new approach, Tulceanu trains the system to recognize a user’s “emotional fingerprint” using the patterns of electrical brainwaves. The system measures the brainwaves they generate in the presence of specific, evocative stimuli. The system has to have a baseline mental signature to cross-reference. Each emotional response is matched to a given pattern and these are then associated with particular configurations of the mental health security system. So someone mentally stable will set the standard for their future readings.

Once the profile is complete it can allow or preclude access to given resources. So the next time someone tries to get access, the system simply measures the current electrical brain activity and if the result of processing the credentials matches the “emotional fingerprint” access is granted or refused accordingly.

This is amazing because it not just recognizes brainwaves to allow authorized access, but it also determines whether or not someone’s current mental health should keep them from having access.

Why a Mental Health Security System Could Matter

Based on the core concept, this could all matter a great deal to public safety. If someone is in a well-balanced emotional state, when faced with external factors they probably react according to:

  • Context
  • Group expectations
  • Education
  • Cultural background
  • Social norms
  • Personal inclinations

However, humans are emotional. We feel. Some of us more intensely, but all of us included. So our decisions can be subject to:

  • Our wants/desires
  • Lust
  • Greed
  • Happiness
  • Sadness

We can even be influenced by psychoactive chemicals that might make particular resources inappropriate or hazardous. Perhaps a safe with a gun locked inside should only be accessible by someone of a stable mental and emotional state.

With this kind of mental health security system there could be another step to control:

  • Entry to a building
  • Access to computer resources
  • Even the withdrawal of money from ATMs

The research actually indicates this mental health security system could also have applications in:

  • Military
  • Electronic learning
  • Healthcare

What Could the Mental Health Security System Change?

Many may not notice at first, but this is a huge deal and if it gained momentum it could change a lot about our world. Thinking about it, anyone can suffer from depression, stress, or anxiety, as well as substance abuse. Some of us may not even be aware of our own issues with mental health until something devastating has happened. We all have the capacity to make detrimental decisions, and sometimes we also have the capacity to do so while accessing sensitive resources.

Let us look at just a few ways this could be a really big deal.

  • Public Safety

In the interest of public safety, we could consider access to an airport or a school. With the history of shootings and other attacks on citizens being perpetrated by people deemed to be in the grips of mental illness, could this new technology have the capacity to save lives by blocking off those who it perceives to be a threat?

Tulceanu suggests this mental health security system could ensure the safety and security of individuals and those around them that might be at risk if access is granted to particular resources.

  • Anti-theft

The mental health security system might be able to assess whether a person is acting responsibly and of their own accord. So if someone is being forced to access something, the security system could measure this emotional response as well and act further on the behalf of someone who could be being robbed or held hostage.

Is a Mental Health Security System Morally Just?

Here comes the philosophical debate. When looking at the possibilities of this technology, we also have to ask ourselves the same questions that crop up in the scifi stories; is this moral? Specifically, if it became a government tool, does it violate privacy or civil rights? Really ask yourself- is this a brighter, safer future? Or could it be misused for subliminal, psychological oppression?

Seriously, this is a tough call. It does sound like it could save a lot of lives. But some would ask- who has the right to say whether or not I’m mentally or emotionally stable enough to get my own money from the bank? Or to get on a plane? Who decides when you are too emotionally or mentally compromised to go to work? What if years from now you aren’t allowed to live in a certain neighborhood because of your place on the brainwave scale?

Would this kind of restriction on people based on an analyses of mental health be reinforcing the stigmas attached to mental health? If so, would people be discriminated against for mental health issues? In the TV show I referenced earlier, people with moderately risky mental health ratings were lawfully mandated to therapy; would that become part of the normal practice if a more comprehensive mental health security system was put into place?

These days, modern research techniques show that far from being indefinable, emotion is completely neurological. Emotion lives at the core of all learning mechanisms. This makes it possible to treat emotion more objectively. All this new research is extremely fascinating. Without being too sure which way to lean, I simply wonder what the world would think of a mental health security system.

The importance of mental health care and substance abuse treatment is paramount. As technology grows so does our understanding of how complex and critical these issues are. There is help for those who are struggling with dual diagnosis, and holistic healing is an empowering way to make a transformation that could change everything.

   CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135

4 Signs to Evaluate Your Relationship

 

4 Signs to Re-evaluate Your Relationship

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Author: Shernide Delva

A toxic relationship can have a negative toll on your life, especially in recovery. Most of us want to find a partner we can share a connection with; however, settling for less is not the answer. While some relationship struggles are a common part of any relationship, there are some things that can hinder even the most promising connection from being able to grow. In these situations, it might be time to re-evaluate whether the relationship you have is worth holding on to.

A recent article explored signs that partners need to evaluate before they consider staying or letting go of a relationship. A summarized version of the article will help you understand the dynamics of your relationships worth working on and the areas that are a major red flag.

4 Signs to Evaluate Your Relationship

  1. One Person is Doing ALL the Work

    Relationships take compromise which means it takes two people to make it work. If you are putting more effort than your partner to the relationship, the relationship will falter. Your relationship will not work until both people are on board. Relationships are very difficult to keep going, and both partners must be fully invested to make it work. No matter how much effort you are putting in, your partnership will not last unless your significant other is working equally hard. You both need to be giving your all. The tremendous amount of compromise, forgiveness, and affection that a healthy partnership requires is too much for one person to bear alone. If you are in a one-sided relationship, it might be time to leave and find somebody who is willing to share the weight and treat you with fairness and respect.

  2. Your Life Plans Are Opposite

    You want to travel the world while your partner wants to settle down and have children. You want to roam the streets of the city while your partner wants to live on a farm. Partners not headed to the same destination eventually end up on rocky terms. One will have to compromise their dreams for the other person. The other partner will have the bear the guilt of being with someone who sacrificed everything for them. This deep resentment can interfere in the love that two partners have created together. Unfortunately, this is a very complicated problem to have and required deep evaluating. Remember, your health and recovery are a priority and ultimately, you must choose the lifestyle that sets you up for the most success. To find a relation that works, be true to your soul and seek out a partner whose life path matches your own.

  3. When Times Get Hard, You Separate

    Learning to lean on your partner during the challenging times of the relationship can be hard. However, if you only stay together during the good times, that is a huge red flag. There are more struggles waiting for you down the road, and these are major predictors of what is to come. If you find you or your partner distance during a challenge rather than come together, you may need help learning how to come together. Ultimately, pushing each other away will weaken your bond and breed insecurities.

  1. You Do Not Accept Each Other’s Authentic Self

    One of the best parts of a committed relationship is knowing your partner loves you despite your flaw. While you both should work on strengthening your flaws, you should feel safe around your partners. If you can not lean on your partner for support, or if your partner makes you feel self-conscious and guilty when it comes to your flaws, that can damage the trust in a relationship. When it comes to recovery, there are areas you are going to continue to be working on, a partner who chips away at your flaws will lower your self-esteem. If you feel you are constantly trying to appear perfect to your partner, it could be time to evaluate the relationship. A relationship that does not allow you to be your true authentic self is a relationship not worth having.

Letting go of a relationship is a difficult and personal decision. However, breaking free of a destructive relationship can open you up to the possibility of a stronger one. Do not settle for less than you deserve. Recovery is about finding the tools to optimize your chance of success. A bad relationship will only hinder you in your journey. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.

Are Creative Individuals More at Risk for Addiction?

Are Creative Individuals More at Risk for Addiction?

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Author: Shernide Delva

The list of talented people who have struggled with addiction is incredibly long. It would take way too much time to list them all. Do creativity and addiction correlate with one another? Are creative individuals more likely to be addicts? That controversial question has been debated for decades.

For the most part, researchers have concluded that people whose abuse substances are not more creative or more successful as a result. Neuroscientist, David Linden of Johns Hopkins University, declared in an interview that there was not a connection between creativity and addiction. He stated that suggesting otherwise confuses coincidence with cause.

Addiction is a disease, not a shortcut to success. When looking at famous writers who were alcoholics, like Fitzgerald or Hemmingway, it is easy to assume that alcohol helped fuel their creative process. However, this is just a perception. Creativity does not stem from substance abuse, nor should substances be the source of your creativity.

Substance Abuse = Source of Creativity?

Dependence on drugs and alcohol should not be the source of your creativity. We should not glorify substance abuse as a means to creativity. In the book, “The Genius in All of Us: New Insights into Genetics, Talent and IQ,”  author, David Shenk states extraordinary talent and achievement come from “the combined consequence of early exposure, exceptional instruction, constant practice, family nurturance, and a child’s intense will to learn.” Essentially, your creativity and intelligence come from your inner will to succeed along with the role models and guidance you have in your life. Behind every successful talent is a teacher, coach or motivator pushing them along.

The problem is highly creative people find their minds are overwhelmed with data streaming in and out of their consciousness. The average person has a cognitive filter that filters this information as a means to survival.  The creative person, however, does not have this filter.  Highly creative people let more of this data in their mind. Therefore, they need to process and organize the increased information flow in untypical ways.

Unfortunately, because creative people think outside of the box and look at the world differently, they look at rules differently.  The term for this trait is cognitive disinhibition which an article describes as “the failure to ignore information that is irrelevant to current goals or to survival.”

The “rules are meant to be broken” mentality both produces creativity and creates destructiveness.  Creativity can result in risky behavior. It is risky because creative people justify their creative behavior when they create while using substances.

“Mind Expanding” Substances

Famous artists were thought to be more brilliant because of their liberal use of “mind expanding substances.”  However, time and time again, it has been proven that creative people are able to maintain their creativity without substances. Those in recovery find that their mind is clearer, making them more able to follow through on their natural creative impulses.

On the contrary, long-term substance abuse can permanently damage creativity. Extended drug use can affect the brain damaging it in ways that may not even be recoverable even after years of sobriety. Scary, isn’t it?
The first time a creative person abuses drugs or alcohol, they may find they can express themselves better. This may cause them to believe they “need” these substances to be creative. However, reactions like this are temporary. Also, creative people may be using substances to self-medicate mental health issues they have not addressed professionally.

Why Are Creativity and Addiction So Prevalent?

Now that we know there is not a direct link between substance abuse and creativity, why do so many creative geniuses deal with addiction? Most of this has to do with the genetics and traits that make someone predisposed to addiction. Those same traits are a prerequisite for creativity.

Studies reveal that 40 percent of addiction is genetically predetermined. While family history is no guarantee that someone will have a problem, there is a strong connection between the two. There are several genes involved in addiction risk. Experts have not identified them all, however, the ones we are currently aware of affect the release of the happy chemical dopamine.

Dopamine Depletion?

Addicts tend to feel pleasure weaker than the average person. Because of this, addicts abuse substances in an attempt to achieve the same level of happiness that others feel natural. There may not be a direct link between drug addiction or mental illness and creativity, but science hints at a connection between substance abuse and traits that are a prerequisite for creativity. A low-functioning dopamine system can make a person more likely to misuse substance and engage in risk-taking, novelty-seeking compulsions.

This same low-functioning dopamine system relates to creativity. Individuals who have struggled with releasing happy chemicals  their whole life may latch on to creative outlets like music, art, and writing to help re-generate that dopamine and process information better.

Overall, your risk for addiction is up to you. You have a choice to use healthier outlets to compensate for genetic factors that may put you at risk for substance abuse. Creativity should not have to be fueled by addiction. You have the ability to be a creative person without the use of drugs and alcohol. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135. 

Trigger Warnings: Have We Taken It Too Far?

Trigger Warnings: Have We Taken It Too Far?

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

Author: Shernide Delva

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

—-

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

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

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

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

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

Do Trigger Warnings Help Those With Mental Health Issues?

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

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

PTSD and Anxiety: Do Trigger Warnings Benefit Them?

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

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

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

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

Should We Embrace Them?

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

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

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

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

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

Trigger Warnings and Addiction Treatment

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

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

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

Everyone should play an active role in helping others feel comfortable and safe. Sometimes it is good to be aware of how you affect other and what types of things affect you emotionally. You may have to navigate life avoiding triggers and paying more attention to the positives. In recovery, you learn the tools you need to succeed. Take it a day at a time.  If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.

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