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Saturday, October 22nd: National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day

Saturday, October 22nd: National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day

Author: Shernide Delva

The Drug Enforcement Administration is hosting another National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day on October 22, 2016. Hosted nationwide, the DEA will use the day to provide a responsible means of disposing of prescription drugs. Another focus will be educating the public about the potential for misuse and abuse of these medications.

“Eighty percent of new heroin users started by using opioid prescription drugs,” explains DEA Special Agent in Charge James Hunt. “DEA’s National Prescription Pill Take-Back Initiative is a way for families to prevent drug use, abuse, and overdoses by ridding their medicine cabinets of unused, unwanted and expired medication.”

Released last month, the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health estimates that approximately 6.4 million Americans age 12 and over abuse prescription drugs. The same survey showed that each and every day, 2,500 teens take a prescription drug to get high for the first time.

Reason for Take-Back Day

Prescription drug abuse exceeds the total drug abuse of cocaine, heroin, magic mushrooms, LSD, mescaline, and methamphetamine combined.  Since drug overdoses are now the leading cause of injury-related death in the United States, it is more crucial than ever to have a drug-take-back day in this country. Drug overdoses kill more people than car accidents.

Furthermore, at the last semi-annual event in April, more than 893,498 pounds of unwanted medicines were collected at 5,400 sites spread across 50 states. Together, this totals an incredible 447 tons of medications, exceeding the previous record of 390 tons back in spring 2014.

According to the DEA press release, the top five states with the largest collections were:

  1. Texas (almost 40 tons)
  2. California (32 tons)
  3. Wisconsin (31 tons)
  4. Illinois (24 tons)
  5. Massachusetts (24 tons)

Over the past six years, the DEA has collected and destroyed about 6.4 million pounds of unused prescription drugs in total. More than 3,800 members of local law enforcement agencies and community partners participate in the program. National Drug Take-Back Day is not going anywhere and will continue to be an unqualified success. It clearly is needed more than ever before.

DEA Special Agent in Charge, Stephen G. Azzam, points out,

“Prescription drug abuse has become the nation’s fastest-growing drug problem, destroying countless lives. The DEA’s Take-Back initiative provides another way to address this epidemic and a safe way for our citizens to dispose of their unwanted prescription drugs and reduce the threat they pose to public health and safety.”

If you would like to locate a National Prescription Drug Take-Back collection site near you, please check out this helpful link.

Drug addiction is an epidemic spreading worldwide. Drug overdoses are taking away lives at tragic numbers. Prevent the drugs in your home from abuse by disposing of them correctly. Participate in National Prescription Drug Take Back day. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free today.

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House Representatives Join Opposition to Delay Ban of Kratom

House Representatives Join Opposition And Urge Delay of Kratom Ban

Author: Shernide Delva

Recently, we wrote about how the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) made the controversial decision to ban kratom by making it a Schedule I drug. While the ban is set to go into effect by the end of this week, advocates of the herbal supplement refuse to go down without a fight. A bipartisan group of 51 House lawmakers recently joined the chorus of opposition to the DEA’s upcoming ban.

To give a quick overview:  Back in late August, the DEA announced it would prohibit kratom due to various reports of health implications associated with the use of the drug. The ban would temporarily add Kratom to the schedule 1 category of narcotics along with substances like Marijuana, heroin, and LSD.

The DEA made it clear the decision was due to kratom’s high potential for abuse and the lack of medical benefit of the drug. However, advocates passionately argue that kratom is useful for drug withdrawal and mental health issues like anxiety and depression.

Therefore, placing kratom in the schedule 1 category would effectively ban it from those who regularly use the drug. Many users find the drug useful in treating, pain, depression, high blood pressure among other ailments.

The ban sparked a broad range of controversy. Now, members of Congress have joined the chorus of opposition. A bipartisan group of 51 House Representatives just signed a letter urging DEA Administrator Chuck Rosenberg to delay the ban.

 “As our nation continues to combat the public health crisis of opioid abuse, the federal government has invested significant resources to develop alternative pain management strategies,” reads the letter.

The letter urged the delay to continue the federally funded study of kratom as a possible treatment option for opioid withdrawal. By placing kratom on the Schedule I category, the letter states it will “put a halt on federally funded research and innovation surrounding the treatment of individuals suffering from opioid and other addictions.”

While kratom is not for everyone, many find it a compelling alternative to prescription drugs.  Earlier this month, Susan Ash, founder of the American Kratom Association, revealed that her organization has been receiving thousands of calls from people across the United States concerned about losing kratom and resorting to prescription drugs instead.

“I am completely swamped,” Ash told The Fix. “I have thousands of people afraid of relapse. People are explicitly telling us they are terrified of losing their quality of life or even their lives.”

51 House Representatives Urges Delay On Ban

The House representatives’ letter to the DEA urges them to delay the ban and allow more time to consult with “consumers, researcher, and other stakeholders.”  When the ban was initially passed, the DEA did not allow any opposition in regards to their decision to ban kratom.

Instead, the DEA argued their decision was valid by citing a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention which stated that kratom poisoning was the cause for 660 calls to poison centers across the country between 2010 and 2015.  The DEA argued that these numbers clearly indicated the need for the ban. They also pointed to 16 reported kratom-related deaths between 2014 and 2016 to further justify their decision.

Still, these numbers are far overshadowed by other drugs, both legal and illegal. Those in opposition point to the numbers of calls the poison control center receives over laundry pod poisonings. These calls far surpass the number of calls they receive in regards to kratom. Both the House lawmakers and kratom advocates think it is not a good idea to restrict access to Kratom when so many people are searching for safer pain relief alternatives rather than prescription pills.

“This hasty decision could have serious effects on consumer access and choice of an internationally recognized herbal supplement,” the lawmakers wrote in their letter.

Kratom does have the potential for abuse. However, it does have potential medical benefits. While the use of any drug is not ideal, the reality is harm reduction remains a crucial topic of discussion. Further research is needed before a ban on kratom is made. Do you agree with the ban?

Overall, if you are struggling with any substance abuse, legal or illegal, you need to research out for treatment. We have the tools to help in your recovery. Do not wait. Call today.

   CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135

Netflix Show NARCOS Tells Hidden Truth in Drug Trade

Netflix Show NARCOS Tells Hidden Truth in Drug Trade

Author: Justin Mckibben

Ever since August 28, 2015 anyone and everyone seems to have something to say about Narcos, the new hit series that debuted on Netflix and has a monumental momentum that has not stopped since. The show has been talked about on practically every channel, has flooded all Facebook (not to mention other social media) news feeds, and has become a centerpiece of conversation in every medium.

Even the people who have never seen a single episode have chattered about how the plot must be well worth the hype, and everyone else eagerly awaits a second gripping and climactic season.

So why has Narcos taken over, and what hidden truths of the drug trade can we learn from it?

Breakdown

Narcos is an American drug trafficking crime drama television series that was created by various talented writers and producers, including:

  • Chris Brancato
  • Carlo Bernard
  • Doug Miro

Narcos has Brazilian filmmaker José Padilha in the captains seat, and thus far he appears to have done a great deal of justice to the material.

This uniquely epic is so far a 10 installment long episodic portrayal of drug kingpin Pablo Escobar and the Medellín Cartel has a thrilling way of packing a serious punch, while also entangling the tales of United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents.

Narcos unravels a dramatic reenactment of the real life events surrounding of the progression and expansion of cocaine drug cartels across the globe, while highlighting law enforcement efforts to bring it all crashing down. Wagner Moura stars as notorious Colombian cocaine kingpin Pablo Escobar, with plenty of blood and brutality to go around.

True Narco Cinema

The series is set during the 1980s Colombian drug war, but it’s more generally about the myths that drug lords, politicians, and cops tell the communities they serve, which has historically been a way they preserve their power; feeding into the fear and mythology that surround them.

Narcos producers call this “magical realism,” but it is actually an old Latin American genre of a storytelling tradition called “narco cinema,” comprised entirely of B-movies about the drug trade. Narco cinema works its own magic through a deeply romanticizing the power and violence of drug lords; turning cops into villains, drug kingpins into underdogs turned heroes, and beauty queens into narcos.

Underneath all this, Narco cinema skillfully exposes the weaknesses and corruption of government systems that have allowed the cartels to infect them and take advantage of the people, which is a clever way to show the truth of how cocaine and cocaine traffickers like those on Narcos have devastated the lives of those around them.

Many people who have made a habit and even a living of dissecting and evaluating films and media have praised the series, and one thing many have pointed out is even though the show has bent the truth a bit to make for more entertaining television, it may more accurately portray the uglier, more sinister side to the reality of drug cartels.

Narcos has been valued by many as the first American production in the true narco-cinematic legacy. Unlike most American depictions of the drug trade, Narcos manages to glamorize its protagonists while still revealing the disturbing structural problems they are working within, exposing the world to the key dynamics in the real life drug wars; specifically the way drug lords and corrupt cops and DEA agents mold their own myths and do everything in their power to instill those terrifying yet empowering legends about them in order to preserve their power over the people.

Drug lords oppress the people, they terrorize communities and they destroy lives across the board. Yet because they are made into these grandiose legends of rags to riches through overcoming injustice, they are idolized. What Narcos has done in the eyes of many is it has continued to stroke the ego of the drug lord just enough, while trying to show the viewer just how disturbing and tragically wicked the world of the drug dealer can be. It is not all fun and games, not all a hero’s journey. It is a twisted and ugly world, and the hidden truth they try to display is that the legend is more important to the drug lord than the truth, because the truth is a lot uglier and a lot less heroic than the stories they tell about themselves.

Along with dramatic series about drug abuse and drug trafficking, Netflix also features some excellent drug documentaries that may also give you insight into how substance abuse and addiction destroys lives. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135

America Taking Away DEA Money to Fund Awareness

America Taking Away DEA Money to Fund Awareness

Author: Justin Mckibben

I want to talk about an announcement truly significant as a deviation from the United States’ decades long War on Drugs, which has time and time again been referred to as a failed endeavor of epic proportions.

The president himself has questioned the efficiency of several policies, the nation seems divided at times, and now may have taken a drastic shift in general opinion on how to best handle the mounting drug issue in America.

So when House lawmakers voted Tuesday to strip $23 million from the budget of a besieged Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in favor of committing those funds toward a new agenda focused on awareness and intervention rather than aggressive pursuit and prosecution, it was an enormous alteration. Let me clarify, the House of Representatives chose to take money from the DEA and put that money toward other programs, so how is this changing the game?

Moving the Moneys

The money which once coursed through the veins of a forceful and antagonistic DEA strategy will now be transfused into the heart of the nation’s community initiatives. Some of the outlets the cash-flow will now be diverted to include:

  • Community outreach programs
  • Fighting police abuse
  • Ending the DEA’s controversial bulk data collection programs

Lawmakers took to a simplistic voice-voting system, and the ‘I’’s had it! A tally of 4 amendments were approved for the fiscal year 2016 Commerce, Justice and Science appropriations bill that would cut into the DEA’s deep pockets.

The outcome isn’t as surprising to some, as the DEA has been catching a lot of heat lately for a number of scandals, including:

  • AllegedDEA-linked killings in Honduras in 2012
  • Allegations of using National Security Agency resources to spy on U.S. citizens and thencovering it up
  • Secretly trackingbillions of Americans’ international phone calls without warrants for decades and the using confidential informants

Not to mention the huge “sex-party” scandal that was gaining a lot of media attention, this was also said to be organized and funded using federal tax-payer dollars to purchase prostitutes.

New Amendments

  1. Amendment 1

Democratic Representative Joaquin Castro from Texas offered the first amendment moving $10 million from the agency’s salaries and expenses to the Department of Justice’s body camera program. Castro said,

“These additional resources will help increase law enforcement accountability, mend police-community relations, and improve the safety of cities and towns across America,”

In light of all the recent tragedies and controversies surrounding police shootings and accusations of police brutality, many suggest this shows that politics are moving in a direction of trying to acknowledge the issue and address the problem.

  1. Amendment 2

Tennessee Democratic Representative Steve Cohen moved for $4 million from the DEA budget to be used to increase funding for rape testing kits. On the House floor, Representative Cohen described trauma imposed upon victims of rape as

“compounded when they know that they’re assailants roam free and critical evidence remains untested.”

At face value this is another awesome ideal, promoting the decision to not only acknowledge but to address rape culture in America, and raise awareness while fighting to properly identify and imprison those committing such horrendous crimes.

  1. Amendment 3

A Democrat from California, Representative Ted Lieu offered an amendment that would allocate a whopping $9 million, taking directly from the DEA’s cannabis reduction and eradication program and assign the money toward initiatives aimed at helping victims of:

  • Domestic abuse
  • Child abuse
  • Sexual assault

Lieu stated in an interview:

“We need to focus our resources where they are actually needed: standing up for children who have been victims of abuse and assault, not spending taxpayer dollars on going after people who grow marijuana plants in states that have legalized marijuana,”

The man does have a very good point. Especially considering thus far the federal government for the most part seems to be taking a hands-off approach with state marijuana laws, and in support of the idea that fighting drug abuse addiction starts at home with proper education and support for traumatized youths who are speculated to be at an elevated risk of using harmful substances.

  1. Amendment 4

Finally the 4th amendment on the list came from Representative Jared Polis, the Democrat from Colorado. This measure was designed to prevent the DEA and Department of Justice (DOJ) from using federal funds to engage in bulk collection of Americans’ communications records.

But wait… there’s MORE! The day after these 4 amendments were approved lawmakers also passed a number of other amendments to the same funding bill aimed at stunting DOJ’s and DEA’s ability to interfere with state-legal medical marijuana and industrial hemp operations. With legal marijuana quickly gaining ground, the amount of money it would cost to keep going with back and forth battles over these arrests would undoubtly drain the bankroll.

What isn’t surprising… the DEA declined to comment on the amendment votes.

So with all this money being taken away from procedures and policies that have been scrutinized as invasive and ineffective to ultimately be handed over to programs fashioned to distribute tax-payer money toward helping address public health and community issues, one can only wonder if this is one of the immense deviations we have been waiting for that would take us off the beaten path of drug wars and spy-games, leading us to a more socially conscious and forward-moving society.

Some may fear taking money from the DEA is taking the muscle out of the fight against the overdose epidemic, and this has yet to be proven true or false. I personally believe that the future of our country begins with our families and our communities, and that no real permanent change to these persistent problems can be obtained without resilience and support in our homes, and without compassion in our hearts, which is what these programs seem to be aimed at accomplishing.

The War on Drugs is changing, and the nation is turning toward more progressive and positive changes, and that includes offering more treatment for drug addiction. There is always light at the end of the tunnel, and this week it may have just got a little brighter for everyone. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135

 

 

 

 

Fentanyl Adding More Fatalities to Heroin Epidemic

Fentanyl Adding More Fatalities to Heroin Epidemic

Author: Justin Mckibben

As if we didn’t already have enough problems presented to us by the opiate epidemic, it seems that drug dealers have gone a step further and doctored up their dope in an attempt to cut corners, and what it’s doing now is killing more addicts.

Last week the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) issued a nationwide warning concerning a surge of heroin laced with the potent narcotic fentanyl, which has subsequently led to a surge of deaths from overdose. So not that the overdose epidemic didn’t have its hands full with heroin or narcotic medications, but fentanyl is putting even more pressure on those looking to find a solution.

Facing the Facts

Fentanyl is not a brand new face in the heroin epidemic, it has been around here and there. But now it seems it is making a huge comeback that is hurting our chances of seeing light at the end of the tunnel in a big way.

On the streets of Canada there were reports of the fentanyl pills that earned their own alias’s like “greens” or “street oxy”, which come in tablets users will often crush to either snort or inject; liquid forms can even be smoked. The prescription painkiller has definitely earned its infamy, described to be up to 100 times as potent as morphine, and hundreds of times more potent than heroin.

Fentanyl is the most powerful opioid available to doctors. It is intended to treat extreme pain in patients with late-stage severe illnesses, like bone cancer.  But it’s increasingly finding its way into illicit drugs on the black market, being mixed into heroin in dangerous amounts, and being manufactured in covert labs by organized crime and sold on the street on a mass production level disguised in pill form.

Fentanyl Fatalities

The infestation of fentanyl laced heroin is making more waves in America these past few years, and law enforcement officials across the country are trying now to initiate a crack-down. There has been a series of related reports of fentanyl related drug arrests already, and some are worried this trend shows no sign of slowing down.

  • 2 men in New York were charged with dealing fentanyl-laced heroin after one of their alleged customers overdosed and died in February.
  • 3 men were indicted in Massachusetts back in October of last year for dealing fentanyl and heroin following a number of overdose deaths in Salem.
  • In New Jersey, state police have noted 3 spikes in fentanyl-related incidents since December 2013, including summer 2014 when police responded to 58 incidents, including 7 fatal overdoses in 2 coastal counties.
  • The most recent spike was between January 23 and February 10 in Atlantic County. There was even an incident during this time that police in Atlantic County responded to 6 overdoses in just 12 hours.

The last epidemic of fentanyl-laced heroin occurred between 2005 and 2007. In that time frame more than 1,000 people died in the Chicago, Detroit, and Philadelphia areas.

Fighting the Fentanyl Outbreak

DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart on made a statement on Wednesday,

“Drug incidents and overdoses related to fentanyl are occurring at an alarming rate.”

He went on to say that fentanyl is a “significant threat to public health and safety.”

Authorities are seeing more and more prominence of this element in heroin on the streets as the battle against prescription and illegal opiates rages on. In fact, according to the National Forensic Laboratory Information System the seizures of illegal drugs containing fentanyl more than tripled between 2013 and 2014. National Forensic Laboratory Information System reported:

  • 942 fentanyl seizures in 2013
  • 3,344 fentanyl seizures in 2014

So how dangerous is this stuff? I mean how can heroin get any worse? Well fentanyl is so strong that the officials handling it in police drug labs are even being warned to use caution while testing, because it can be accidentally inhaled or even absorbed through the skin.

Lieutenant Juan Colon of New Jersey law enforcement official also made a statement recently concerning this outbreak in heroin containing fentanyl, stating:

“These drugs, opioids and opiates, are killing people, especially when you’re buying them off the street. You don’t know what you’re getting. If you do drugs, you’re taking a gamble.”

Looking back again, opiate overdose deaths have plagued the country for these past few years, becoming the leading cause of injury related death. So now on top of having to face down the issues concerning prescription painkillers and heroin, there is an additional element of lethal proportions being slipped into the mix. But luckily this development hasn’t gone completely under the radar.

Does this put us even further from being able to combat the outbreak of overdose deaths in America? Is fentanyl bringing us closer to an even larger outpouring of drug related deaths, and what more can be done to warn the public that addicts are taking more risk than ever to get high?

Far too many lives are ruined, or brought to a rapid end because of overdoses when there is real help out there. 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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