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Is Narcan in Schools a Good Idea for Palm Beach County?

Is Narcan in Schools a Good Idea for Palm Beach County?

Author: Justin Mckibben

Narcan, or the generic version Naloxone, is the opioid overdose antidote that we have heard so much about in recent years. The opioid epidemic has left us no choice but to talk about it. While opioid addiction spreads, the overdose death rates skyrocket and community leaders all over the country are trying to find ways to expand access to Narcan and Naloxone. Now some advocates in South Florida, and specifically in Palm Beach County, are pushing for discussion on having Narcan in schools.

This isn’t a brand new concept, and it obviously doesn’t come out of the blue. There is a steadily growing number of kids prescribed legal pain killers, especially after the FDA ruled to allow OxyContin to be prescribed to children 11 years old and up back in 2015.

So with the conversation trying to get off the ground, we might want to take a serious look at the benefits of such resources. This is not the first time the question has been raised about utilizing the overdose antidote in schools, so is it a good idea or not?

Examples of Narcan in School

There are already several states across the country that use Naloxone and Narcan in schools. State programs are set up differently, with some requiring the medication and others leaving it to individual school districts to set their own requirements. Just a few examples of states with Narcan in the classroom include:

  • Ohio

January of this year Ohio Governor Kasich signed a bill making it possible to have Narcan in schools and homeless shelters. Just this week there was a 5 to 1 vote in Akron, Ohio by the Akron Public Schools Board of Education that passed a motion for police officers who work in the district’s middle schools and high schools to be equipped with Narcan in district buildings.

  • West Virginia

A law passed during the legislative session allows West Virginia schools to stock opioid antagonists, such as Narcan and Naloxone, for drug overdoses.

  • New York

The state of New York has a program set up to provide Narcan in schools for free. So far 64 districts are participating in the narcan expansion program.

  • Pennsylvania

In 2016 there were 268 schools in the Pennsylvania Public High Schools system approved for Narcan intranasal kits from Adapt Pharma for free.

  • Illinois

Also back in 2016, the Illinois General Assembly voted to override the Governor’s veto of a bill to allow Narcan in schools so nurses have access. The Illinois legislation specifically authorizes school nurses to administer the drug to anyone they believe may be suffering an opioid overdose.

  • Rhode Island

Every middle school, junior high and high school is required to have a stock of naloxone on the premises.

The kicker is there are currently no programs for Narcan in Florida schools.

Palm Beach County Debate

Of course with programs like these we will always see some standing against it saying it promotes, or at least enables, illicit drug use by students. However, there are plenty of others who have stood on the fron lines and seen how opioid addiction can stem from legal and innocent beginnings. Maureen Kielian is one advocate who spoke up about the possibility of Narcan in schools recently, stating:

“My son became addicted to legally prescribed opioids,”

South Florida Recovery Advocates is a group actively advocating for schools to have Narcan, and Maureen has joined the fight to make a difference for kids like her son. Kielian states,

“We are on it. We just need cooperation from our leaders to save lives,”

Palm Beach County Commissioner Hal Valeche plans to meet with local law enforcement officials and school leaders to try and pursue a future Narcan program for the South Florida schools. He acknowledges that the biggest hurdle may be funding, but Valeche insists that saving lives is more important. He and other advocates understand the cost is nowhere near the value of a life.

While schools try to get their hands on an antidote that might save the lives of their students, people everywhere are still fighting for their lives. Don’t wait for an overdose to get help. Make the choice now. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free.

CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135

Would Lowering the Drinking Age Increase High School Dropout Rates?

Would Lowering Drinking Age Increase High School Dropout Rates?

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

Author: Shernide Delva

Could lowering the drinking age from 21 to 18 lead to increasing the high school dropout rate? A new study believes so. The study first published in the latest issue of The Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, examined dropout rates before the minimum drinking age was raised to 21 in 1984. Researchers discovered that 17-year-olds were affected by their 18-year-old peers because allowing 18 year old students in high school to have access to alcohol increased the chances that younger students would drink.

The lead author, Andrew Plunk observed that there was a 3% jump in dropout rates when the drinking age was 18. He also noted that “At-risk” groups like African Americans and Latinos had a 4% increase in dropout rates. Even more staggering, the dropout rate jumped by 40% for students whose parents had a drinking problem.

With 3.3 million teenagers expected to graduate from high school this year, a 3% jump in dropouts would amount to an additional 99,000 dropouts across the country. In a news release, Plunk stated:

“The minimum legal drinking age changes how easy it is for a young person to get alcohol. In places where it was lowered to 18, it’s likely that more high school students were able to get alcohol from their friends … if we lower the drinking age, it suggests to me that we’d see this same dropout phenomenon again.”

Despite the research, many colleges and even certain states have spoken in favor of lowering the drinking age to 18. Back in 2008, over 120 college chancellors and presidents signed a petition in favor of the idea.

Some states have come up with more creative solutions. Alaska introduce a bill in 2011 to allow active military member to drink at age 18 on the basis that if you’re old enough to serve in the military and die for your country, you’re old enough to drink.

Of course, there are a number of external environmental factors that might affect the connection between dropout rates and lowering drinking age. Despite that, Plunk still believes that a reduced drinking age could have an impact on minors. He states that laws need to remain in place to protect people are 15, 16, and 17 years old most vulnerable.

Next, we have to consider other countries that have a lower drinking age. Like me, you might be arguing that countries in Europe tend to have lower drinking ages and do just fine with them. Apparently, that’s a myth.  Plunk says that previous, separate research has revealed that European you do in fact have their share of alcohol problems.

So what about Europe? The US is always compared to Europe and we’re told that men and women have their first drink at an early age and develop a healthier relationship with alcohol. Well, according to Plunk, that’s a myth that won’t die. Plunk responded to the question posed by Medical Daily in an email. He said that previous, separate research has shown European youth do have their share of alcohol-related problems.

“For example, in 1990, France and Italy had higher per capita alcohol consumption and higher rates of cirrhosis deaths than in the U.S. Per capita consumption in France and Italy was 12.7 and 8.7 liters of alcohol, respectively, compared with 7.5 in the U.S.,” Plunk cited. “Cirrhosis death rates in France and Italy were 26.8 and 17 per 100,000, respectively, whereas the U.S. rate was 11.6. European countries are now looking to the U.S. for research and experience regarding the [drinking] age policy.”

Truthfully, more research is needed to be done to understand the true problems underage drinking could have on a country. When it comes to protecting youths from the harmful dangers of alcohol misuse, the CDC says that it will require community-based efforts to monitor the activities of you and decrease youth access to alcohol.

Alcohol abuse is unhealthy no matter what age you are though. Don’t let your alcoholism turn your life around. Get help for your addiction. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135

High School Marijuana Use Has Decreased

High School Marijuana Use Has Decreased

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

Author: Shernide Delva

There has been a plethora of questions surrounding marijuana in the past few years. Should marijuana be legal? If it is legal, should it be recreational use or medicinal? These are the questions being debated across the country. With several states legalizing the drug, marijuana is increasing in availability.

With all the focus on marijuana lately, one would assume that marijuana use would have skyrocketed in high school settings. Surprisingly, this is not the case.

Contrary what you might think, marijuana use in American high schools have actually gotten lower over the years.  Considering the movies that depict high school as still being full of pot smoking partying teenagers, this is not expected.

Despite the legalization of marijuana in several states, a new study reveals that high school marijuana use is significantly lower than it was 15 years ago. These numbers were surprising considering a move toward decriminalization of the drug and even recreational use in a handful of states like Colorado.

Maybe it’s one of those “If everyone starts doing it, it’s not as cool anymore” phenomenons.

Either way, Marijuana is still the most common used drug in high school. According to research done by John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, researchers say marijuana is more popular then the use of other illegal drugs.  Here are the results from the study:

  • Numbers: Research shows that 40 percent of teens in 2013 answered yes to if they have ever smoked marijuana. That number decreased from 47 percent in 1999.
  • The Gender Gap: In the past, boys tended to smoke marijuana more than girls. Findings show now that boys and girls are now using marijuana at a similar rate.
  • Race: In the past, whites and blacks used to use marijuana at similar rates. Findings show now that blacks report using the drug more often.

Compared to twenty years ago, marijuana policies have undergone significant changes.

Since 1996:

  • 34 states have passed laws removing criminal sanctions for medical use of marijuana.
  • Eleven states have passed laws decriminalizing the possession of small amounts of marijuana adding to the nine passed in the late 70s.
  • Four states now allow for the recreational use of marijuana for people over 21.

All this would lead anyone to assume the use of marijuana, especially in high schools, would keep going up and up.  Study leader Renee, M. Johnson, PhD, explains more:

“People have been very quick to say that marijuana use is going up and up and up in this country, particularly now that marijuana has become more normalized. What we are seeing is that since 1999 — three years after medical marijuana was first approved — the rates of marijuana use have actually fallen. But we will be watching those states where recreational marijuana use has been legalized to see if that leads to increased use among teens.”

Time will tell is the general consensus. The 80s and 90s were the era of “just say no” and federal crackdown on illicit drugs. Yet, those were the times where drugs were high in popularity. Use of other illegal drugs has also decreased such as hallucinogens and cocaine. Alcohol and cigarette use continues to decrease alongside them.

The study recommend programs get implemented that educate students about the specific harm of marijuana use—something that is rarely ever done. The focus for too long has been on tobacco and cigarette use, Johnson stated.

“We’ve done a really good job in public health of alcohol and tobacco use prevention,” she says. “We haven’t done the same with marijuana. We would do well to follow the lessons learned from those programs, which have been pretty successful.”

Over 115,000 high school students were surveyed for the results. We’ll have to see in a couple more years how marijuana reform affects rates of marijuana use.

Like any drug, marijuana has the potential to be abused. If you feel like you may be leading into an addictive path, find someone who can get you on the path to recovery.  If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135

High School for Addicts: Recovery 101

High School for Addicts: Recovery 101

Author: Justin Mckibben

Substance abuse and drug addiction have made an impact on our country and the culture of our cities in an immense way. The overdose epidemic has laid the casualties of the War on Drugs at the nations feet, along with the aftermath of pill-mill empires, online drug-dealing sites, and continued plagues of synthetic drugs. The threat of drugs is still very alive, and some suggest a whole new strategy is needed to change the tide.

Well along with a seemingly nationwide shift in popular opinion on drug policy toward the means of harm reduction and decriminalization of specific substances, it seems that some states are trying to continue implementing new innovative forms of education and recovery. Soon recovering drug addicts in Massachusetts may have the means to attend new recovery high schools.

Take notes, this will be on the final.

Sobriety Class in Session

Recovery High schools are specifically designed campuses with a curriculum for students recovering from a substance abuse disorder. The concept of these schools was originally introduced back in 1987, and as recovery schools generate awareness, and more states and foundations consider funding such schools, some push for more research to be done to evaluate the most effective methods of this alternative branch of education.

Democratic State Senator Karen Spilka from Ashland, Massachusetts recently announced that $1 million in funding will go towards opening not one, but 2 new recovery high schools in the state, one of which is expected to be in Worcester.

Now this isn’t an entirely new strategy for the state of Massachusetts, which already has recovery high schools in a few areas including:

  • Springfield
  • Boston
  • Beverly

Now it appears that the local policymakers are re-concentrating their efforts towards effectively helping young people in light of the latest spikes in opiate overdoses in the area. If the bill passes, Massachusetts will provide a total of $3.1 million for the 2 recovery high schools. Senator Spilka stated:

“Substance abuse we all know is a crisis across the state, impacting all our families,”

The concepts of treatment and recovery have been evolving, and until recently much less focus was placed on adolescent treatment than on prevention of adolescent substance abuse. However as these issues become more prominent, there has been information released to better represent those in need. Teen drug abuse is a reality, and more people are taking notice and taking action to address the problem before it gets any worse.

The Senate also aims to provide other resources in the field of drug treatment such as:

  • $5 million towards 150 new post-detox treatment beds
  • $1 million for a pilot program to purchase Narcan (opiate overdose antidote) in bulk
  • $10 million towards a substance abuse trust fund

All this effort is being put in place to contest with the growing issue of teen drug abuse. Many anticipate this new budget proposal could provide support to adolescent drug addicts looking to get clean and stay clean in the face of rampant opioid abuse.

Similar programs have been proposed and put into effect all over. Drug Free Clubs of America are in place to provide incentives and support for avoiding drug use, and in Illinois there has even been legislation proposed to put Narcan in the hands of school nurses.

When you consider that getting kicked out of school in light of drug abuse only keeps a teen uneducated, which in turn will most likely keep them from a stable and healthy career, the results only depress and oppress them further, which often leads to more drug and alcohol abuse.

Therapy for students got a little attention earlier this week as some exclaimed the mental health improvements possible when teens are given an opportunity to receive some level of therapy in school, and others have pushed for drug testing in schools. It is apparent the safety and well-being of young people is paramount, as they are the future. So why not provide a second chance that keeps teens out of the vicious cycle of uneducated marginalization that feeds the patterns of addiction?

Bring and open mind and your number 2 pencils.

While addiction treatment grows and advances with the times and the progression of our understanding, new options and techniques come to light, and maybe the answer to the addiction problem is multiple choice. For those looking for treatment, there are always a special kind of teachers willing to help. 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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