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Canada Approves Prescription Heroin to Control Drug Addiction

Canada Approves Prescription Heroin to Control Drug Addiction

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

Author: Shernide Delva

Canada has taken a controversial approach to fighting heroin addiction. The  Canadian government has just quietly approved a new drug regulation that will permit doctors to prescribe pharmaceutical-grade heroin to severe addicts.  Essentially, Canada’s strategy for treating addicts resistant to other forms of treatment is simple: let them have heroin.

While this is a first for Canada, other countries have similar programs. The approved regulation ensures that Canada’s trail-blazing clinic, Crosstown, in Vancouver, will be able to expand their special heroin-maintenance programs. These programs allow addicts to come and go as many as three times a day to receive prescription heroin from a nurse for free.

Back in May 2016, Canada was in the beginning stages of legalizing prescription heroin. Health Canada explained in a news release:

“A significant body of scientific evidence supports the medical use of diacetylmorphine, also known as pharmaceutical-grade heroin, for the treatment of chronic relapsing opioid dependence,”

Health Canada continued stating they were considering the idea of legalizing prescription heroin since several other countries have used it and found it effective.

“Diacetylmorphine is permitted in a number of other jurisdictions, such as Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark, and Switzerland, to support a small percentage of patients who have not responded to other treatment options, such as methadone and buprenorphine.”

Lowering the Cost of Addiction?

Furthermore,  Dr. Scott Macdonald, a physician with Crosstown Clinic, explained that heroin maintenance programs are much cheaper for taxpayers than paying for the cost of drug addiction. A person battling drug addiction can cost the tax base $45,000 Canadian Dollars (around $35,000 in U.S. dollars)  per year in crime costs, health care costs and more. On the other hand, prescription heroin in a Vancouver clinic costs around $27,000 or $21,000 in American Dollars.

The government ensures that this type of treatment is for a small minority of users “in cases where traditional options have been tried and proven ineffective.”  The purpose is to give health-care providers access to a wide variety of life-saving treatments options.

In 2005, Crosstown Clinic conducted their first clinical trial of prescription heroin and has operated ever since.  The clinic provided diacetylmorphine to 52 addicts under a special court-ordered exemption. They expect that number to double over the next year if supplies can be obtained.

The Case for Prescription Heroin

A regulation like this will raise controversy. However, studies in the past argue the benefits of using prescription heroin over harm-reduction treatments such as methadone. The studies found that patients stayed in treatment longer and relapsed less in comparison to those who received methadone.

Furthermore, researchers found that those receiving diacetylmorphine had a longer life expectancy compared to those receiving methadone.  When it breaks down to costs, prescription heroin costs society less.

Researchers also found that those receiving diacetylmorphine had a longer life expectancy than who received methadone. Crime costs reductions occur with both options. When it breaks down to costs, methadone therapy costs society $1.14 million, compared with $1.09 million for prescription heroin.

“The question I get most about heroin-assisted therapy is whether we can afford the increased direct costs of the treatment,” co-author Dr. Martin Schechter of the University of British Columbia said in a news release. “What this study shows is that the more appropriate question is whether we can afford not to.”

A Two-Sided Argument

Still, many remain solidly against the option. Collin Carrie, a Conservative member of Parliament, stated that his party adamantly opposes the use of prescription heroin.

“Our policy is to take heroin out of the hands of addicts and not put it in their arms,” he stated.

However, Scott Macdonald reiterated that the patients considered for these treatments are long term users. Typically, they have been on heroin for decades and have tried treatments like methadone with repeated failed attempts.

 “Our goal is to get people into care,” he said.


When it comes to addiction, the entire world is seeing an outstanding amount of deaths related to drug overdoses. Treatment options like these are controversial, but unfortunately, they need to be a topic of discussion.  Still, the best option remains learning to live a clean, sober life in recovery. Do not let your addiction go on for too long. There is time and hope for you.  Do not wait. Call today.

    CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135

5 Compelling Truths About Heroin

6 Compelling Truths About Heroin

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

Author: Shernide Delva

By now, most of us know what heroin is, but are there things we do not know about the drug? A recent article listed several facts about heroin, and some of them were quite shocking. The United States is currently in the midst of a heroin epidemic. Therefore, it is critical that both medical professionals and the public fully understand this drug.

All About Heroin: A Basic Overview

In case you were unaware, heroin derives from morphine, a naturally occurring substance that can be extracted from the seedpods of several types of poppy plants. The chemical name for heroin is diacetylmorphine. Heroin is the fastest acting opiate drug. Whether heroin is injected, smoked or snorted, the drug enters the body rapidly and causes a range of physically and psychological effects.

The U.S. has seen heroin cycle in and out of popularity. In the 70s, heroin was becoming a huge problem in urban communities specifically in areas around New York City. It was estimated that close to 200,000 people in the city were using heroin. A popular park in New York City, known as Hyde Park, earned the infamous name “Needle Park” because the amount of syringes that were found all throughout the park. Fortunately, the heroin epidemic of that era died down around the time Rudolph Giuliani was elected. Many new yorkers credit Giuliani for the measures he took to clean up the city.

The Heroin Epidemic Today

These days, however, heroin is not hitting just urban communities; the epidemic has spread throughout the countries in places people would have never suspected. Areas in the suburbs are seeing a spike in heroin use. The prescription opioid epidemic is the main reason for this resurgence. Many who were prescribed prescription opioids by their doctors became dependent on the drug and soon moved on to heroin as a cheaper, quicker alternative.

Heroin is much cheaper than prescription drugs, and it is easier to acquire. As laws are placed to prevent further prescription drug abuse, heroin use becomes a more popular alternative. Unfortunately, it is a vicious cycle.

With new users come new problems. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the rate of heroin-related overdose deaths nearly quadrupled between 2002 and 2013. Heroin claimed the lives of more than 8,300 Americans in 2013.

Five Compelling Truths About Heroin

Now, that you know some basic information about the current heroin epidemic, here are five interesting facts about this dangerously addictive drug. Perhaps reading them will further solidify the reasons to avoid trying heroin in the first place.

  1. What Being “On The Nod” Really Means.

    When most people envision the high of heroin, they picture a person “nodding off” from the drug. Nodding off, or “on the nod” essentially describes a person who is in a state where they alternate between drowsiness and wakefulness for several hours. Imagine a student in a boring lecture trying desperately to stay awake. Their head will drop down as they get sleepier but immediately jerk upward in an attempt to stay awake.

    The nodding from heroin use happens because heroin is a sedative. A person will go from feeling awake but sleepy and eventually fall into a deep sleep that he or she cannot be shaken from. While this may be desirable for a heroin user, it is the first step on the road to excess sedation. The nod can be especially dangerous if the user loses consciousness. In some cases, a person can slip into a comatose state and then sink into an overdose. Breathing becomes severely slow and sometimes stops.

  1. Was Heroin Ever Sold Over-The-Counter?

    Heroin was created from morphine in 1874. However, Heroin was introduced for medical use in 1890 by The Bayer Company of Germany.  Three years before that, a chemist wanted to create a safer alternative to morphine— one that was less addictive and had fewer effects. In his attempt to create the drug, he created heroin, which he believed to be a more dilute form of morphine. The reason the drug was called “heroin” was because he believed the drug had heroic qualities.

    Starting in the early 1900s, Heroin was found in products like cough syrups, and remedies for infant colic. Heroin was marketed and sold over the counter in the United States and several other countries. Doctors thought the drug was great for insomnia.

    However, a few years later, heroin was discovered to be two to three times more potent than morphine, and more rapidly absorbed by the brain. Doctors also realized that heroin was actually more addictive than morphine! Needless the say, eventually the drug was taken off the shelves.

  1. The “Heroin Chic” 90s Fashion Movement.

    In the 90s, being waif thin was all the rage in the high fashion community. Models like Kate Moss, were so emaciated, that they looked like they were strung out on drugs. To add to the look, the models often posed with blank stares, dark eye circles, and pale skin.

    During the same period, a new, less expensive version of heroin was entering the United States from Columbia. The new version outcompeted heroin coming from Asia and Southeast Asia. In fact, the Columbian heroin was so cheap and pure that it increased the number of heroin user and the depth of their drug use.

    In 1997, not long after a fashion photographer died of a heroin overdose, the then-president Bill Clinton condemned the “heroin chic” images and advertisements. Clinton suggested that the images glamorized addiction to sell clothes.
    Soon, the “heroin chic” look fell out of favor, and eventually much healthier looking models replaced the super skinny waif-like look.

  2. The Different Colors of Heroin.

    Heroin comes in three different colors. It is either a white powder, a brown powder, or a black sticky substance known as black tar heroin. You might have known this already, but do you know what country of origin is associated with the different types of heroin?

    –White Powder Heroin: Heroin which is more refined and pure used to arrive from Southeast Asia. White powder heroin is becoming rarer in the United States. Much of the powdered heroin sold in the U.S. has fillers or contaminants added such as sugars, starches, and powdered milk.

    — “Black Tar” Heroin: The sticky black heroin or “black tar” heroin comes to the U.S. from Mexico which is the only country that produces it. The drug resembles a black tootsie role. When the drug is cold, it is a hard substance, however, once the user warms up the drug, it appears sticky, resembling roofing tar.
    Formed through an industrial process, black-tar heroin is known for being less pure and lower grade. It also is more similar to opium in its chemical makeup compared to other forms of heroin, and it has other opioid drugs, such as morphine and codeine, in it.

    –Brown heroin: Lastly, we have heroin from Columbia which tends to be brown and chalky. Heroin from Pakistan and Afghanistan are also brown, but heroin from these countries are more commonly found in Europe.

  3. Famous Phases from Heroin Withdrawals Symptoms.

    Although you may associate phrases like “kicking the habit,” or “going cold turkey” with all drug use; the two phases actually originated from heroin withdrawal symptoms.Heroin is one of the most difficult drugs to withdraw from. Heroin withdrawal is a long-term process that involved commitment, professional treatment, and the right support system.

    Over the years, our language has been influenced by what happens when people stops using heroin. The expression “kicking the habit,” for example, is thought to have originated from the kicking leg movements seen in people going through heroin withdrawals. When a person withdraws from heroin, their muscles become lethargic and heavy. They start to feel their legs become twitchy and uncontrollable, which leads to the kicking motion, hence the phrase “kicking the habit.”

    Another withdrawal symptom of heroin is cold flashes and goosebumps, which some believe originated the phrase “going cold turkey.” When a person withdraws from heroin, their skin becomes more active. This results in goosebumps and the feeling of going “cold turkey.” Phrases like these are old terms and likely originate 50 to 70 years ago.

Was there anything you learned about heroin that surprised you? Now that you understand how addictive heroin can be, you should know that the best way to overcome this addiction is through receiving professional treatment. Do not try to overcome this disease on your own. You need a plan for recovery.  Call today.

   CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135

Controversial Super Bowl PSA on Heroin Receives Mixed Reactions

heroingirl

Author: Shernide Delva

If you were one of the millions of Americans who watched last night’s super bowl, you might have seen a heroin PSA play during the commercial break. A super bowl PSA called “All American Girl,” ran on St. Louis airtime. It was produced by the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse (NCADA) to warn parents about the dangers of heroin use.

While the goal of the super bowl PSA was to raise awareness, many believed the ad was ineffective and instead promoted stigma and fear.  On the other hand, others felt the ad was successful in grabbing the attention of those who need the information most: the parents.

The PSA was taken negatively because many viewers felt it displayed the same fearful tactics that have been used for decades. The PSA showed a young girl cooking up heroin. The PSA then flashes to the girl cheerleading out of rhythm. Over time, the girl throws away her cell phone and even gets rid of her own dog. Her mother loses track of where she is and is extremely worried about her daughter. The girl eventually loses her friends, schoolbook and career aspirations.  At the end of the super bowl PSA, she looks pale and waif-like and the super bowl PSA closes warning viewers of the dangers of heroin.

The super bowl PSA is supposed to raise awareness of how heroin causes many to throw their life away, but instead it raises an important question…

Are ads like these effective?

Back in 2011, a meta-analysis entitled “The effectiveness of anti-illicit-drug public-service announcements” proved through several studies that these types of PSAs are not effective in preventing drug abuse. However, the NCADA believes that releasing PSAs like this will force the community to pay attention to the drug epidemic. The super bowl PSA features “happy sounding” music while showcasing a very devastating situation. This was done to prevent viewers from turning away on an epidemic that no one should turn away from.

In addition to the “All American Girl,” ad, the St. Louis region also saw another ad on the heroin epidemic called “That’s How.” The commercial also dramatizes the effects of heroin to raise awareness. It has a jolly sound in the background that contrasts the grim nature of heroin addiction.

Opinions on the super bowl PSA were both positive and negative. Barry Lessin, president of Families for Sensible Drug Policy, found the PSA to be constructed poorly.

“Yes substances can be dangerous,” he said, “heroin is dangerous, but the misguided education messaging has been proven ineffective and can be more dangerous.”

Like many states in the U.S., St. Louis has a serious heroin problem. An estimated 2,300 people have died from heroin in the past seven years. Still, those impacted by heroin use found the messages produced by the NCADA to be in poor taste.

“The feedback from the families who viewed the segment expressed serious concerns that the piece will have a detrimental impact on impressionable teens who are telling us loud and clear that ‘just say no’ doesn’t work,” Carol Katz Beyer, co-founder of Families for Sensible Drug Policy, told The Fix.

While many are taking aim at the PSA, others take a more “better than nothing” approach to the whole concept. At least, something is being done to raise awareness of how serious the heroin epidemic truly is. Chelsea Laliberte, executive director of Live4Lali, lost her brother to an accidental overdose in 2008. She said she is just pleased that the conversation of heroin is becoming more common.

“As an activist, honestly, I am pleased that this conversation has become as mainstream as the people who use heroin.”

 Overall, while the PSAs have good intentions, more research should also be done to understand what ads are truly effective in preventing substance abuse. Hopefully, more methods of prevention will help in reducing the amount of deaths from these dangerous drugs.

Substance abuse is a difficult addiction to overcome. More and more people are trying and becoming addicted to drugs like heroin and prescription painkillers. If you are one of them, remember you are not alone. Seek professional help today. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.

New Mayday Music Video Hits Hard on Heroin Addiction

New Mayday Music Video Hits Hard on Heroin Addiction

Author: Justin Mckibben

I’ll go ahead and get this out of the way, I love me some Mayday music. Been a fan for a little while now, and I am certain these guys are some of the most underrated artists in the hip hop scene. Their style of music is unique in so many ways, and each individual is extremely talented and consistent with their contribution to this awesome band.

Now with their newest album “Future Vintage” the band is back to killing the game with more and more evolution of style, and as always they bring with them some tunes that carry a heavy message. One message in particular was found on their recent track “Against My Better Judgement” with a compelling music video that just premiered all about the suffering and devastation of heroin addiction, with an uplifting call to action.

More about Mayday

For those of you who don’t know, Mayday (¡Mayday!) is an American hip hop group originally based out of beautiful Miami, Florida. The group consists of:

  • Bernz- (Rapper/vocalist)
  • Ben Miller (aka Wrekonize)- Rapper/vocalist
  • Ken Preiser (aka Plex Luthor)- Producer/keyboard player/guitarist
  • Andrews Mujica (aka NonMS)- Percussionist
  • Terrel (aka L T Hopkins)- Drummer
  • Gianni Perocapi (aka Gianni Cash)- Bassist

Mayday is currently signed on with the underground king of building independent hip hop empires himself- Tech N9ne– and his label Strange Music.

This definitely isn’t the first time Mayday  has addressed substance abuse, and in reality more often than not they seem to promote drinking and partying. However, the band is also very good at looking at a real issue and making a creative and conscious effort to trying to inspire change through their music as well.

For instance “Shortcuts & Dead Ends” is a song talking about the burdens faced when trying to make a name for yourself, and touches on the idea of addressing personal flaws and defects while fighting off the demons of a life in vices.

Mayday Hits Heroin Addiction Hard

The 5-minute music video for “Against My Better Judgment” is truly captivating and gripping, even if you haven’t ever experience addiction first hand this is the kind of imagery that puts the emotion of the lyrics to the story on the screen. The video recently premiered exclusively on Yahoo Music, and in it you watch this desperate and almost disturbing series of event, unfolding a dismaying story of a young couple living for their next fix.

Some moments get quite graphic in nature, and you see the couple using, fighting, and the female character taking part in a compromising exchange for her next fix. You can’t help but fear for the two, and the female character tugs at your heart strings and yanks them around and tangles them up with her frantic running down the street, between their shambled home and the drug dealer- all the while she pushes an empty baby stroller, which you can seek symbolism for later on.

The song takes a more acoustic and harmonious approach on the record they’ve described as a love song about our vices.” The song is also a call for help many can probably recognize with words like:

“Cause I don’t know what else to do / Will you help me through?”

The message behind the song happens to be particularly personal for the video’s director, Jason Cantu, who lost a close friend to drugs the week prior to shooting the video. After watching the video and reading that, it gave me the chills to see how real Cantu was able to express that pain in the short film.

Most inspiring is toward the end, we see the female character find her way into a room resembling a support group. One would assume she has hit a hard bottom and stumbles into a 12 Step meeting where she is instantly embraced and comforted by the people sitting around the circle, and against the melody Mayday plays out in these moments it is a really impressive and emotionally charged moment for anyone who has ever experienced the horrors of addiction and managed to find some help.

On a personal level, this video struck home in a number of ways, and it tries to show in so many frames of film how addiction and drug abuse impacts so many lives all at once, and at the end it shows us two alternate paths addiction can lead us to. Between the couples journey and seeing what each character endures in the end is powerful, and I promise if you are paying attention you will get an emotive response from this piece of collective and socially conscious art.

Music and music videos are another way we share our feelings and experiences to help each other, and it is true drug use and addiction are closely involved with hip hop. But it is also true that we can chose to give a different power to the pieces of our lives, and it all begins with a step away from addiction toward recovery. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135

Two Inmates Dead Due to Preventable Heroin Withdrawals

Two Inmates Dead Due to Preventable Heroin Withdrawals

Author: Shernide Delva

Two Colorado inmates died while incarcerated and suffering through heroin withdrawal this year. Both were preventable. In the last decade, heroin deaths have quadrupled in the United States.

Back in May, 25-year-old Taylor Tabor died in Adams County jail from complications due to opiate withdrawal. He had been arrested for heroin possession and his parents refuse the $300 bail out of tough love. In another case, 37-year-old heroin user Jennifer Lobato was found dead shortly after being arrested for shoplifting in March. In both cases, the cause of death was dehydration. Often, this occurs as opiate withdrawal causes users to vomit uncontrollably.

In August, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration introduced new language in their grants encouraging medication-assisted treatment rather than abstinence in a clinical environment.

Withdrawal from opiates is a very uncomfortable, painful experience resulting in nausea, diarrhea, insomnia, fevers, and cold sweats among other symptoms. That is why monitored detox is such a crucial component of many treatment centers. However, going to prison should not always mean you have to kick the habit cold turkey.

From 2012 to 2013, the Department of Justice saw an increase of 23 percent of jail inmate deaths from drug of alcohol intoxication. Families in several states have sued local jails when heroin users died of dehydration behind bars.

Heroin detox requires hydration levels to be carefully monitored because constant vomiting leads to easy dehydration. As heroin use continues to be a crisis throughout the country, local jails are seeing a rise of users behind bars.

After the death of Jennifer Lobato, the Jefferson County Sheriff reprimanded six deputies. They also added an additional nurse and there is a policy instated that requires inmates withdrawing from drugs to get medical attention without delay.

Withdrawal from heroin can be severe and start within 8 hours of giving up the drug. The individual will have symptoms often up to a week after they quit. Some people suffer continued post-acute withdrawal symptoms (PAWS) that can last several months. These symptoms can include:

  • Foggy Brain: Individual unable to think clearly.
  • Difficulty managing stress
  • Irregular sleeping patterns
  • Emotional: one second up, next second down
  • Social Anxiety
  • Difficulty Concentrating

Because the heroin epidemic has reached such large proportions, jails are now dealt with the challenge of handling those coming in with opiate drug addiction withdrawals. Unlike a treatment center, jails do not have methods to aid with withdrawals and many do not do anything to help those suffering.

There has been a push for methadone treatment for heroin users behind bars however for the most part; this remains widely unavailable in the United States. The Center for Prison Health and Human Rights offers some insight on the consequences of jail’s mandatory withdrawal policies. Senior director, author Josiah D. Rich, explained how the lack of methadone treatments in jail discourage heroin users from wanting to start methadone treatments.

“Inmates are aware of these correctional methadone withdrawal policies and know they’ll be forced to undergo this painful process again if they are re-arrested. It’s not surprising that many reported that if they were incarcerated and forced into withdrawal, they would rather withdraw from heroin than from methadone, because it is over in days rather than weeks or longer,”

As for the two cases in Colorado, parents of the inmates are looking to sue the jails for negligence. In both cases, the families believe the deaths were preventable. There have been other cases in the United States of negligence in jails and parents are suing many jails for negligence. The hope is that attention brought from the media on cases like these will promote better management of inmates suffering from withdrawals in otehr jails across the country.

Getting treatment from heroin is challenging enough in a treatment center, better yet a jail. Get help before you do something that lands you in an unfortunate situation. 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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