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How Could New Trump Budget Proposal Impact the Opioid Epidemic?

The Potential Pros and Cons of Trump Budget on Opioid Epidemic

Author: Justin Mckibben

It is no secret that the devastating opioid epidemic in America is still tearing a path of despair across the country. In 2015 this ongoing public health crisis ravaged communities, causing over 52,000 drug overdose deaths and more than 33,000 opioid overdose deaths. The opioid problem was a major campaign issue during the election, and now is one of the most pressing problems we face here in the states. Yet, upon examining the recent budget proposal released by President Trump and his administration, it seems the means to try and bring the epidemic to an end are lacking to say the least.

Given the current state of affairs, it is certain that tens of thousands of people will likely die of drug overdoses under President Donald Trump’s term. Taking that into account many hoped that drug treatment would be a serious priority. However, with the first big policy document from President Trump being the 2018 budget proposal, experts believe Trump is proving that the opioid crisis is not a priority. All this after claims that Trump would “spend the money” in order to “end the opioid epidemic in America.”

If anything, some experts are saying the proposal President Trump has introduced may actually make the opioid epidemic worse. So here we will take a look at some of the pros and cons of the 2018 proposed budget.

The Pros VS the Cons

According to the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), this new budget plan makes little effort, and in the end it may ultimately prove obsolete.

  1. Nearly 2% increase in drug treatment spending

Pro- the ONDCP says this will amount to an estimated $200 million added to the already $10.6 billion the government already spent on treatment.

Con- the catch is this money includes the $500 million added by the 21st Century Cures Act from the Obama administration.

That essentially means without that Obama era legislation the Trump budget would have actually cut drug treatment spending. Ultimately, the cut will likely happen the year after the 2018 budget because the Cures Act money is only for 2017 and 2018.

  1. Cuts or No Cuts?

Pros- Still, according to the ONDCP figures of the 2018 budget, technically there are no proposed cuts to overall drug treatment spending this year.

Cons- However, the proposal does suggest other cuts to public health and anti-drug programs. The ONDCP states that these other cuts in funding can completely undermine any progress.

For example, the 2018 budget proposal from President Trump does seriously cut drug prevention programs across all federal agencies by approximately 11%.

Other Big Budget Debates

  • Medicaid

Probably one of the big arguments is the potential for problems with healthcare and cuts to Medicaid, especially since President Trump repeatedly ran on the promise that he would not be cutting Medicaid.

However, reports indicate Trump also proposes a 47% cut to Medicaid over the next 10 years! People have been up in arms about the suggestion that this could potentially strip the one affordable source of health insurance from millions of Americans. Part of which is actually used for drug addiction treatments.

A 2014 study showed that Medicaid paid for ¼ of projected public and private spending for drug treatment in 2014. That equates to around 7.9 billion dollars utilized for treating drug addiction.

  • SAMHSA

The new 2018 budget proposal also requests nearly $400 million worth of cuts to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)

  • Mental Health Block Grants

The Trump budget requests hundreds of millions of dollars to be taken away from mental health block grants.

Beyond that, the budget calls for billions of dollars to be cut from agencies and programs that work to help address the opioid epidemic and drug addiction. Agencies with proposed cuts include:

  • The National Institutes of Health (NIH)
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
  • Food and Drug Administration (FDA)

While these are not drug treatment providers, they are actively involved in creating opportunities and providing research in the mental health and drug treatment communities.

Too Little Too Late

Advocates for drug treatment don’t only put this on Trump. For years the federal government has taken too long to take action to fight the epidemic. Even with the Obama administration it took until 2016 to pass any major legislation. Finally the 21st Century Cures Act added $1 billion to drug treatment for 2 years, but advocates insist that the problem requires much more funding.

This makes sense, considering the overdose outbreak now kills more people than:

  • Cars
  • Guns
  • Even HIV/AIDS at the peak of its outbreak

Examining the budget shows that the only significant action in the budget that would affect the epidemic is cuts in funding to important elements in the fight against the epidemic. Sadly, as far as anyone has stated, there is nothing in the budget to balance out the cuts either.

What We Know

The fundamental issue is that America needs to put a lot more resources into drug addiction prevention and drug addiction treatment. The Obama administration took some steps in 2015 and 2016 to add hundreds of millions and then another billion to fund the efforts, but experts still say that was also too little too late.

The fear now is that more needs to be done to empower the agencies that are on the front lines of the fight. More needs to be put into a compassionate response. Instead, Trump’s Attorney General Jeff Sessions is advocating for a “tough on crime” attitude and endorsing the War on Drugs that has already failed the nation time and time again.

So while there is potential, and many believe Trump has an amazing opportunity to do much more than his predecessor did to create resources for battling the opioid epidemic head-on, many see these recent steps as an indication that things might get worse before they get better.

Drug abuse and addiction is a devastating and deadly disease, and providing effective and compassionate treatment makes a lifelong difference. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, think about who you want to be working with to find a real solution. Please call toll-free now.

   CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135

What Were the Drug and Alcohol Death Rates in Your State?

What Were the Drug and Alcohol Death Rates in Your State?

Author: Justin Mckibben

A reality that is undeniable in this world is that somewhere on the planet, someone passes away every day. It is completely possible statistically that while you are reading this, someone is taking their last breaths. It is part of the process; the circle of life. Nobody lives forever. Yet, one tragic truth we have today is that so many are dying because of something as insidious as addiction. Right now, somewhere someone is dying from a drug overdose.

In all reality, several people just like you and I will die of a drug overdose, or a related illness or incident, today. As death rates due to opioid overdose death escalate higher than ever before, we find that drugs and alcohol are the most lethal threat facing Americans.

Last year we did an article providing overdose death rates for each state. So with that in mind, we took the time to provide some perspective by giving you the most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics, as far as an entire year’s worth of statistics for drug and alcohol induced deaths.

What do you think is your states statistic? Where does your state fall on the scale of highest to lowest?

The following information is in regards to 2015, and the population figures for year 2015 are bridged-race estimates of the July 1 resident population, from the Vintage 2015 postcensal series released by NCHS on June 28, 2016.

California

  • Drug deaths- 5,025
  • Alcohol deaths- 5,150
  • Total- 10,175

Florida

  • Drug deaths- 3,377
  • Alcohol deaths- 2,489
  • Total- 5,866

Texas

  • Drug deaths- 2,732
  • Alcohol deaths- 2,073
  • Total- 4,805

New York

  • Drug deaths- 3,009
  • Alcohol deaths- 1,479
  • Total- 4,488

Ohio

  • Drug deaths- 3,418
  • Alcohol deaths- 1,027
  • Total- 4,445

Pennsylvania

  • Drug deaths- 3,376
  • Alcohol deaths- 879
  • Total- 4,255

Michigan

  • Drug deaths- 2,316
  • Alcohol deaths- 985
  • Total- 3,301

Illinois

  • Drug deaths- 1,872
  • Alcohol deaths- 946
  • Total- 2,818

Arizona

  • Drug deaths- 1,351
  • Alcohol deaths- 1,277
  • Total- 2,628

North Carolina

  • Drug deaths- 1,636
  • Alcohol deaths- 915
  • Total- 2,551

Massachusetts

  • Drug deaths- 1,851
  • Alcohol deaths- 633
  • Total- 2,484

Washington

  • Drug deaths- 1,189
  • Alcohol deaths- 1,100
  • Total- 2,289

Tennessee

  • Drug deaths- 1,546
  • Alcohol deaths- 637
  • Total- 2,183

Georgia

  • Drug deaths- 1,370
  • Alcohol deaths- 726
  • Total- 2,096

New Jersey

  • Drug deaths- 1,506
  • Alcohol deaths- 527
  • Total- 2,033

Indiana

  • Drug deaths- 1,310
  • Alcohol deaths- 689
  • Total- 1,999

Kentucky

  • Drug deaths- 1,331
  • Alcohol deaths- 466
  • Total- 1,798

Colorado

  • Drug deaths- 893
  • Alcohol deaths- 857
  • Total- 1,750

Virginia

  • Drug deaths- 1,070
  • Alcohol deaths- 655
  • Total- 1,725

Maryland

  • Drug deaths- 1,320
  • Alcohol deaths- 301
  • Total- 1,621

Missouri

  • Drug deaths- 1,098
  • Alcohol deaths- 512
  • Total- 1,610

Wisconsin

  • Drug deaths- 894
  • Alcohol deaths- 638
  • Total- 1,532

Oregon

  • Drug deaths- 609
  • Alcohol deaths- 896
  • Total- 1,505

Louisiana

  • Drug deaths- 901
  • Alcohol deaths- 388
  • Total- 1,289

South Carolina

  • Drug deaths- 793
  • Alcohol deaths- 495
  • Total- 1,288

Oklahoma

  • Drug deaths- 751
  • Alcohol deaths- 530
  • Total- 1,281

Minnesota

  • Drug deaths- 653
  • Alcohol deaths- 599
  • Total- 1,252

New Mexico

  • Drug deaths- 516
  • Alcohol deaths- 656
  • Total- 1,172

Connecticut

  • Drug deaths- 827
  • Alcohol deaths- 341
  • Total- 1,168

Alabama

  • Drug deaths- 810
  • Alcohol deaths- 316
  • Total- 1,126

Nevada

  • Drug deaths- 629
  • Alcohol deaths- 433
  • Total- 1,062

West Virginia

  • Drug deaths- 750
  • Alcohol deaths-193
  • Total- 943

Utah

  • Drug deaths- 667
  • Alcohol deaths- 266
  • Total- 933

Iowa

  • Drug deaths- 332
  • Alcohol deaths- 344
  • Total- 676

Arkansas

  • Drug deaths- 425
  • Alcohol deaths- 242
  • Total- 667

Kansas

  • Drug deaths- 349
  • Alcohol deaths- 278
  • Total- 627

New Hampshire

  • Drug deaths- 433
  • Alcohol deaths- 173
  • Total- 606

Mississippi

  • Drug deaths- 369
  • Alcohol deaths- 175
  • Total- 544

Maine

  • Drug deaths- 278
  • Alcohol deaths- 194
  • Total- 472

Rhode Island

  • Drug deaths- 318
  • Alcohol deaths- 146
  • Total- 464

Idaho

  • Drug deaths- 224
  • Alcohol deaths- 240
  • Total- 464

Nebraska

  • Drug deaths- 139
  • Alcohol deaths- 199
  • Total- 338

Montana

  • Drug deaths- 152
  • Alcohol deaths- 194
  • Total- 346

Alaska

  • Drug deaths- 127
  • Alcohol deaths- 161
  • Total- 288

Delaware

  • Drug deaths- 208
  • Alcohol deaths- 80
  • Total- 288

Hawaii

  • Drug deaths- 175
  • Alcohol deaths- 95
  • Total- 270

Wyoming

  • Drug deaths- 99
  • Alcohol deaths- 152
  • Total- 251

South Dakota

  • Drug deaths- 72
  • Alcohol deaths- 152
  • Total- 224

District of Columbia

  • Drug deaths- 130
  • Alcohol deaths- 80
  • Total- 210

Vermont

  • Drug deaths- 111
  • Alcohol deaths- 96
  • Total- 207

North Dakota

  • Drug deaths- 65
  • Alcohol deaths- 96
  • Total- 161

The total drug related deaths in America- 55,403

Total alcohol related deaths in America- 33,171

Then the total combined (Drug/Alcohol) deaths in America- 88,574

Analyzing the Data of Deaths

Again, these are the CDC’s statistics from 2015; the most recent comprehensive data they can provide. The year 2016 saw some of the most damaging spikes of overdose rates in some cities. Some reports show 2016 to have the highest rates of drug addiction in the history of America. So if we look at the numbers for 2015, it is truly heartbreaking that in all likelihood well over the 88,574 people who died in 2015 lost their lives in 2016.

Some states have seen a huge jump in drug related death. My home-state of Ohio saw 3,778 in 2014, putting them at 3rd highest rate of drug/alcohol-related deaths. That grew to 4,445 in 2015; an increase of 667 people. California held onto the 1st spot on the top highest with 9,562 in 2014, which shot up to 10,175 in 2015; an increase of 613 people.

Oklahoma actually saw a decline in drug-related deaths,  bringing their total drug/alcohol-related deaths down from 1,348 in 2014 to 1,281 in 2015. But they did see an increase is alcohol-related deaths. Mississippi also saw a slight dip from 548 total to 544.

But while some were more intense shifts than others, besides Oklahoma and Mississippi, drug/alcohol-related deaths increased across the board.

Conclusion

What can we take from this? Well, quite simply, that we need to be aware of the true threat that substance abuse poses to our future. If we can expect based on headlines over the year that 2016 was much worse, we need to ask where we are heading. What is being done to change our direction?

We can also conclude that substance abuse an addiction is not limited to any geographic or demographic. It is a very real epidemic. For more detailed information you can visit the CDC’s site and pull up a variety of statistics.

Addiction to drugs and alcohol is stopping so many people from living out their lives and giving to the world. But true recovery is possible. We have the power to change these statistics. If you or someone you love is struggling, please call toll-free now.

    CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135

Will the New CDC Painkiller Guidelines Reduce the Risk of Addiction?

painkillerguidelines

Author: Shernide Delva

In an effort to curb what many consider to be the worst public health drug crisis in decades, the CDC has issued a series of guidelines and restrictions intended to reduce the abuse of prescription painkillers. On Tuesday, the federal government released these CDC standards, ending months and months of disagreements with pain doctors, and drug industry groups. However, many are still asking the same vital question: will these guidelines even work?

The CDC guidelines will be the first national standard for prescription painkillers. The guidelines are intended to provide a more sensible approach to prescribing highly addictive medicines. In the past, drugs like OxyContin and Vicodin were easily prescribed to patients. Although efforts have been made to reduce the amount of prescriptions prescribed in the medical community, these guidelines will further limit how opioid medications are distributed.

“This is the first time the federal government is communicating clearly to the medical community that the risks outweigh the potential benefits of these drugs,” said Dr. Andrew Kolodny, head of Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing, which supports the guidelines. “It’s one of the most significant interventions by the federal government.”

These guidelines recommend what many addiction experts have long called for which is pushing doctors to recommend other pain management options. The CDC guidelines also limit the amount of prescriptions a doctor can prescribed at one time.While these new guidelines are non-binding, they are likely to have a huge influence in the medical community.

New CDC Painkiller Prescription Guidelines

Just to give a brief overview, here are some of the main specific guidelines that will be implemented in the next coming months.

  • Doctors should first try ibuprofen and aspirin to treat pain prior to prescribing more high-risk drugs such as opioid medications.
  • Opioid treatment for short-term pain should last only three days, at the longest seven days. This will be a significant change. Currently, doctors prescribe for anywhere from two weeks to a month of opioid medications for short-term pain management.
  • Doctors should have patients undergo urine tests prior to getting prescriptions.
  • Doctors are to participate in a drug tracking system to ensure patients are not getting medicine from somewhere else. Currently, 49 states have these systems yet only 16 are required to use them.
  • These guidelines will not apply to patients receiving cancer treatment or end-of life treatment.

The new guidelines are a dramatic shift from the ideology of the 1990s. Back then, an initiative to fight for pain management resulted in opioid prescription painkillers soaring in popularity in the medical field. Pharmaceutical companies and medical experts pushed to have these drugs readily available because at the time, they were thought to be effective solutions to treat back pain and arthritis without the fear of addiction. Boy, were they wrong back then.

Now, as overdoses continue to mount, and addiction claims more and more lives each year, the country is desperate for an answer. While these guidelines may have good intentions, other professionals argue that more rules can cause more harm than good. Recent tighter restrictions on painkillers have resulted in the drugs soaring in cost on the black market. As a result, a significant number of addicts turn to heroin to satisfy cravings.

For nearly two years, these standards have been bitterly opposed by Big Pharma and pain doctors who feel that these guidelines will only post unfair hurdles for patients who really do suffer from chronic pain. They argue that drug addicts will simply find another way to get their fix, like heroin.  Opponents of the new guidelines also believe that these rules are an incursion into the role of doctors.

Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, director of the disease centers, responded,

“It’s become increasingly clear that opioids carry substantial risk but only uncertain benefits — especially compared with other treatments for chronic pain.”

He continues to support the guidelines, stating they are meant to be “a tool for doctors and for patients to chart a safer course,” describing them as a benchmark for medical practice, not an unbending dictate. The idea, he said, is to balance the risks of addiction with the needs of patients.

“For the vast majority of patients with chronic pain,” Frieden said, “the known, serious and far too often fatal risks far outweigh the transient benefits. We lose sight of the fact that the prescription opioids are just as addictive as heroin. Prescribing opioids really is a momentous decision, and I think that has been lost.”

Essentially, Frieden is saying these new guidelines are meant to help with the addiction crisis and certainly are not meant to prevent those with chronic pain from receiving medications they need. Furthermore, it is uncertain the effects opioid medications have on chronic pain in the long run, so we can not assume that restricting these drugs cause any harm to those patients.

Considering how urgent the addiction epidemic is, something has to be done, and at least these new guidelines encourage conversation. Education and prevention is the key. Each year, the data is increasingly more frightening. There clearly is not a one-stop solution to all of this. Do you think these guidelines will be effective? If your or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.

CDC Spending $20 Million to Fight Addiction

CDC Spending $20 Million to Fight Addiction

Author: Justin Mckibben

Prescription drugs such as OxyCodone and Percocet have been usual suspects involved in the opiate epidemic that has devastated the nation, while also making a crushing contribution to the overdose outbreak.

It has long been established that prescription drug abuse, specifically opiate abuse, has a direct connection to the growing issue with heroin addiction. Several stories about Big Pharma schemes and unethical doctors have highlighted the severity of the circumstances, while countless patients have inadvertently ended up desperately addicted to opiates through pain medication.

Raising awareness has become a huge focal point of the efforts to fight addiction, as knowledge truly is power when trying to overcome such pervasive poisons. The labors to pioneer new policies to deliver structured support and innovative options for treatment is become more prevalent, and it seems as the momentum mounts, so does the backing.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) made the announcement this month that there will be a staggering $20 million in grant awards intended for programs designed to reduce prescription drug abuse and overdose.

That’s right… $20 Million. It seems politicians and organizations have seen the cost of life and the cost on the communities, so now everyone with a budget is chipping in.

Prescription Drug Overdose: Prevention for States

The new program being founded and funded by the CDC is being called “Prescription Drug Overdose: Prevention for States,” and these programs are set to provide funding to 16 states to help expand their prescription overdose death prevention programs. These 16 states include:

  • Arizona
  • California
  • Illinois
  • Kentucky
  • Nebraska
  • New Mexico
  • North Carolina
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • Tennessee
  • Utah
  • Vermont
  • Wisconsin

The states completed a competitive application process in order to be selected for these programs, and surely there are others in need who will benefit from these initiatives at some point in the future. At the same time, several states NOT on this list are also receiving assistance from the “Heroin Response Strategy,” with funds from the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) including:

  • New York
  • New Jersey
  • Baltimore
  • Philadelphia
  • Washington, D.C.

Building off the Budget

The plan doesn’t stop with those 16 states and the first $20 million either. After the first slate of funding for 2015 the CDC also plans to keep contributing financial assistance to the states, paying out between $750,000 and $1 million a year over the next four years to finance the fight against addiction.

One primary factor the funding being used for is improving prescription drug monitoring programs. The money will also be dedicated to:

  • Overdose education
  • Communications campaigns
  • Emerging issues
  • Working with health-care providers and insurers “to help them make informed decisions about prescribing pain medication”

CDC Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell believes that the prescription drug overdose epidemic requires a multifaceted approach, and stated:

“With this funding, states can improve their ability to track the problem, work with insurers to help providers make informed prescribing decisions, and take action to combat this epidemic.”

CDC Director Tom Frieden seems to believe in the proactive concept of this program, trying to get in front of addiction, while getting behind recovery efforts. Frieden commented:

“The prescription drug overdose epidemic is tragic and costly, but can be reversed. Because we can protect people from becoming addicted to opioids, we must take fast action now, with real-time tracking programs, safer prescribing practices, and rapid response. Reversing this epidemic will require programs in all 50 states.”

Although the CDC praises programs for prescription tracking as a sustainable solution to opioid abuse, some experts have criticized these methods in the past as only providing a faster route to heroin addiction. These critics believe that throwing money at making it harder to get pills isn’t going to fix the addiction issue, and that makes plenty of sense when considering the immeasurable number of addicts out there already who will swiftly turn away from crushing and popping pills to a stronger substance and soiled syringes.

The CDC program also stipulates the funding can be employed to “investigate the connection between prescription opioid abuse and heroin use,” but this still does not indicate any possible connection between prescription tracking and heroin use.

The “Heroin Response Strategy” we mentioned is actually just a small portion of the $25.1 billion the United States government is planning to spend fighting drug use, while other organizations and communities rally together in collective support of groundbreaking programs for fighting prescription drug addiction and overdose as part of the opiate epidemic in America.

I have to say we sure are hearing about a lot of money getting thrown into this issue, so hopefully that money will be matched with a conscious effort by those who can make a difference to inspire and nurture change.

So far the prescription drug problem, aligned with the opiate epidemic, has been very costly to American life, while tearing apart families in every state. Beyond the price of prisons, treatment and law enforcement, the price of life has been immeasurable, so seeing big budget companies throwing their hat in the ring with funding to support recovery is very refreshing. There is always hope, and people willing to help make a change. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135

 

Meth Lab Injuries on the Rise

Meth Lab Injuries on the Rise

Author: Shernide Delva

According to a new report from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Meth lab injuries are on the rise.

Unlike drugs that come from plants like Marijuana and Cocaine, Meth is made from other chemicals often in makeshift home laboratories. Fires, explosions, injuries and environmental contamination can occur in these labs putting the public at risk.

Data collected from five states — Louisiana, Oregon, Utah, New York, and Wisconsin have shown that meth related chemical incidents have increased from 2001 to 2004 when the drug reemerged in popularity.

There was a decline from 2005 to 2007 as lawmaker’s limited access to the drugs needed to make meth.  From 2001 to 2012, there were a total of 1325 meth-related chemical incidents. The most common reported injuries were respiratory irritation, burns, eye irritation, and skin irritation.

Recent Meth Lab Injuries:

  • In Eastern Wisconsin, a 35 year old man was treated for burn injuries after investigators say was a meth lab explosion.
  • In Louisiana, a woman was seriously injured in what investigators determined was a “rolling meth lab fire. “
  • In Daytona Beach, Florida, an 8 month old and four adults were injured when a meth lab exploded early this year.
  • Last month, an explosion in Maryland was blamed on a meth lab established in a government building. A federal security officer who was injured was blamed and charged in the case. The officer resigned his position a day after the explosion.

The CDC stated the new method of making meth called the “shake-and-bake” method is the reason for the increasing injuries being reported. The “shake-and-bake” method involved shaking chemicals in a 2-liter plastic bottle. The bottle can frequently burst causing burns and injuries.

Law enforcement officials make up a large percentage of meth-related injuries. Forty-two law enforcement officials were injured in meth lab injuries. The most common injury is respiratory irritation.

To reduce injury, researchers suggest law enforcement officials increase training in order to recognize risk as well as using personal protective equipment. Researchers cautioned that a state-by-state approach to meth production may not be effective.

For example, in 2010, Mississippi introduced “prescription-only” laws for ephedrine and pseudoephedrine. While the law resulted in fewer meth labs seized in Mississippi, meth related incidents increased in neighboring state Louisiana.

Dangers lurk even after the meth lab is closed down because people can still come in contact with the leftover hazardous materials.

“Employees working as cleanup contractors, or in housekeeping, patient intake and other high-risk occupations should be alerted to the dangers,” the study authors said.

The implementing laws limiting access to the meth chemicals tracking people buying the chemicals with electronic monitoring, and maintaining a database of the offenders.

The study concludes by noting that public health is urgently needed to protect those who are most injured in meth incidents children and law enforcement officials.

Meth labs are seriously dangerous to the general public. Because of the increasing popularity of meth use, meth lab injuries are on the rise. The hope is that new policies are implemented that prevent these incidents. 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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