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Is it Dangerous to Quit Using Opioids Cold Turkey On My Own?

 

Is it Dangerous to Quit Using Opioids Cold Turkey On My Own?

Author: Shernide Delva

The opioid epidemic has reached record-breaking numbers, and with that shift comes many seeking to recover from opioid addiction. However, the withdrawal process for opioids can be a very uncomfortable process.

It is advisable to seek medical treatment to recover from opioid dependence.  This process usually involves detox and professional treatment to address the addiction. It is a bad idea to try and quit cold turkey on your own terms.

Without professional addiction treatment, people who quit opioid use on their own risk severe complications. While opioid withdrawal is not fatal necessarily, related complications can be dangerous. Even with the utmost determination and preparation, the painful side effects of withdrawal can cause even the strongest-willed person to relapse.

How Addiction and Withdrawal Works

In the brain, opioids target receptors that govern things like mood, emotion, feeling of reward and the natural pain response. When opioids hit these receptors, they cause them to over-fire, leading to short-term feelings of euphoria. Over time, the intensity of these feelings dwindles leading to the need to take more of these substances to feel good. That is why dependence begins to occur.

With regular use, your brain rewires, and eventually, the use of opioids will be the only way to feel pleasure. All other activities that gave you joy will fall by the wayside, and your main goal will be to obtain your next high.

All of this can happen relatively quickly, sometimes within a few weeks.  What makes addiction to opioids severe is the level of tolerance that quickly follows. Within a week of using the drug, you may find you need to take more to achieve the same effects, and if you continue to use that amount regularly, your addiction will become much more severe. Eventually, you will need several times more a day than a doctor would ever prescribe—a recipe for a very difficult withdrawal.

Withdrawal occurs when your body tries to adjust to not having the substance anymore. When you quit cold turkey, it is like seeing the wall you are leaning on crumble. It can have very shocking effects on your system.

Opiate Withdrawal Complications

It can take weeks to recovery from substance abuse. The effects of withdrawal can be severe. Within a few days, you are likely to encounter a few of these withdrawal symptoms.

A few days later, more severe symptoms can occur like:

  • Painful abdominal cramping
  • Severe nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Chills and shivers

Opioid addiction may cause you to experience hallucinations, severe body tremors, and even suicidal thoughts. It is important to be aware of these symptoms and to have medical professionals monitoring you throughout the process. Medical professionals also have medications and holistic alternatives to help guide you through the detox process.

The biggest risk during the detox period is that you will relapse. People who quit cold turkey often start off feeling strong and determined, but severe withdrawals completely change that mindset. Many reach a point in which they would do absolutely anything to get ahold of the drug, even if it means hurting others.

Sadly, if you relapse after withdrawal, you have a higher chance of not surviving the next high. Because your tolerance decreases during detox, your body will not handle the same amount of opioids that you were used to taking. Therefore, if you relapse and take the same amount of opioid medication that you did prior, you may accidentally overdose.

While withdrawal itself may not be fatal, the instances of addicts dying due to relapsing after withdrawal are common. Furthermore, there are cases of addicts dying during the withdrawal process. Some addicts forget to keep themselves hydrated which can lead to electrolyte disturbances. The body is also prone to infections or other complications, which can have deadly consequences.

Overall, quitting cold turkey is a bad idea. It may seem like a simple solution at first, but please understand the danger you risk by doing this on your own. Remember, so many people are struggling with addiction. Instead, call us today. We have professionals waiting to get you on the right track. Recovery is possible. Call now.

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Dialectical Behavioral Therapy: Selena Gomez Says DBT Changed Her Life

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

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

Author: Shernide Delva

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

But what is DBT?

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

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

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

DBT in three formats:

  • Support-oriented:

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

  • Cognitive-Based:

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

  • Collaborative:

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

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

  1. Individual weekly psychotherapy sessions:

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

  2. Weekly group therapy sessions:

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

The Four Modules of Dialectical Behavior Therapy

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

  • Emotion Regulation:

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

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

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

  • Interpersonal Effectiveness:

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

  • Mindfulness:

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


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

   CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135

TV Star Craig Ferguson Reflects on 25 Years Sober

 

TV Star Craig Ferguson Reflects on 25 Years Sober

Author: Shernide Delva

TV star Craig Ferguson recently celebrated 25 years of sobriety on February 18, 2017. He tweeted to his followers about his major milestone.

He said: “I’m 25 years sober and anyone who knew me back then would tell you how impossible that is. Thanks for the miracle.”

Craig Ferguson became a household name as the presenter of the Late Late Show which since has been taken over by James Corden.

In an interview, he acknowledged the start of his recovery journey:

“I got sober. I stopped killing myself with alcohol. I began to think: ‘Wait a minute – if I can stop doing this, what are the possibilities?’ And slowly it dawned on me that it was maybe worth the risk.”

During his years on the Late Late Show, Ferguson regularly discussed his days in active addiction in a humorous and commendable way.

For example, in 2007, when pop star Britney Spears was struggling with her own personal issues, Ferguson was one of the only late night hosts to not poke fun at her. That year, Spears was caught shaving her head and getting lips tattooed on her wrist. In case you do not remember, the media went berserk. Shortly after, Spears was checked into rehabilitation. At the time, Ferguson felt it was wrong to joke at another person’s expense.

“Now I’m not saying Britney is alcoholic, I don’t know what she is — alcoholic or not — but she clearly needs help,” he said.

Reflecting on Sobriety

In an interview to Times magazine in 2009, Ferguson explained that even if he was not an alcoholic, he would not drink. The concept of drinking without getting drunk simply does not interest him.

“The idea of having one or two drinks bores the ass out of me. If I’m going to drink, I’m going to do it to get drunk. If I’m not going to get drunk, I’m just not going to drink. It’s hard to explain. That isn’t necessarily what alcoholism is, I just tried to explain it as it manifested itself in me.”

Right getting sober, Ferguson admits alcohol saved him from committing suicide. In one of his most famous monologues, Ferguson talks about a weekend “all-night bender” that shifted the direction of his life. He woke up on Christmas morning covered in his own (or someone else’s) urine and miserable.

That morning, he decided he would commit suicide by swine-diving over the tower bridge in London.  He decided to stop by his favorite bar and that was when his bartender Tommy offered him a glass of cherry. One thing led to another and Ferguson says he forgot to kill himself that day.

“Here’s the important point: the alcohol saved my life. I was self-medicating. I’m an alcoholic.  I needed alcohol. I needed something…” he said.

After that day, he continued drinking heavily doing stand-ups and continuing his binge-drinking ways. Finally, on February 18, 1992, he called his sober friend seeking help and that friend helped him go to rehab.  After his 28 day stint in rehab, Ferguson says the work had just begun.

“I don’t have a drinking problem. I have a thinking problem.”

Ferguson finally understood his alcoholism and accepted that, for the rest of his life, he would have to stay sober.

“Certain types of people can’t drink. I’m one of them,” he said.

In the 2007 monologue, Ferguson concluded that the best way he copes with his alcoholism is through reaching out to others who have had similar experiences.

“I have found that the only way I can deal with [alcoholism] is to find other people who have similar experiences and talk to them. It doesn’t cost anything. And they’re very easy to find. They’re very near the front of the telephone book. Good luck,”  he said.

Now 25 years sober, Ferguson remains grateful for each day.

Ferguson’s Upbringing

Growing up, Craig Ferguson did not have the easiest childhood.  Born in 1962, he had the kind of dark childhood that often leads many to a career in comedy. He was chubby and bullied and he lived in Cumbernauld, 15 miles outside Glasgow.  Ferguson notes that his town was named the ­second-worst town in the United Kingdom, an appraisal he finds excessively flattering

Then, during a punk phase in the 80s, he played drums in a band called the Dreamboys. His band-mate, actor Peter Capaldi, convinced him to try comedy. He wrote about all of this in his memoir American on Purpose.

“Peter was the first person who told me that being funny was a gift and, when done well, was an art form,” he writes. “Up until this point, I had learned that being funny, particularly in school, was stupid and could get you physically injured.”

After a few false starts, Ferguson went back to the drawing board, inventing a character to play at a show in Glasgow. He decided to parody all the native über-patriot folk singers in Scotland and the act stuck. From that point, Ferguson was on his way.

Yet, as his career and comedy continued to climb, Ferguson’s alcoholism continued to drag him down. Ferguson spent his spare time draining himself with too many pints of alcohol. Finally, on that fateful day in 1992, Ferguson made the decision to get sober. That was just the beginning, and 25 years later, he understands his disease more than ever.

“I have an addictive personality,” he notes. “I’ll try anything a hundred times just to make sure I don’t like it.”

—-

Overall, Craig Ferguson exemplifies why one should never give up on their sobriety. Regardless of how deep into your addiction you believe you are, it is never too late to reach out for help. Do not wait. Call now.

   CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135

After the Naloxone: The Next Step After Overdose Reversal

After the Naloxone: What’s the Next Step?

Author: Shernide Delva

Drug overdoses have skyrocketed across the United States, and as a result, the popularity and accessibility of naloxone have risen as well. Most pharmacies now carry naloxone and even schools are carrying it in the event of an overdose emergency. Nationwide, naloxone is available to emergency departments and paramedics who find they are using the overdose antidote more than ever before.

While the use of naloxone is saving countless lives, one of the major battles first responders are facing is that they often administer naloxone to the same people over and over again. The repeated overdoses have many pondering; Where do we go from here? What is the next step after naloxone?

After the Overdose Reversal

First responders have acknowledged the pattern of repeated overdoses throughout the country. While an overdose often is a turning point for many, for others it is not enough to stop the active addiction. Therefore, in many areas of the country, first responders and community members have launched programs to reach out to those who recently overdosed. These programs aim to offer resources on overdose prevention, mental health counseling and substance use disorder treatment.

In July 2015, the Township of Colerain, Ohio, started a post-naloxone outreach program led by their Director of Public Safety, Daniel Meloy. Ohio has some of the highest rates of drug overdoses in the country. Under the program, representatives from the Colerain Police Department, the Colerain Fire Department, and Addiction Services Council all meet to review overdose reports from the previous week. Then, the representatives, known collectively as the Rapid Response Team, go into their community to visit the homes where the overdoses occurred.

“We knock on doors and ask to speak with either the person who overdosed or any friends or family,” says Shana Merrick, a social worker with Addiction Services Council. “We explain that we are not there to make an arrest, but to offer resources to keep the person healthy, safe and well. Most people open their doors and we talk about their situation and needs.”

In cases where a person lacks medical insurance, these programs help them find insurance. For those who are not eligible for insurance or Medicaid or simply can’t afford insurance, there are dedicated funds to help pay for treatment costs.

“About 80% of the people we see eventually seek some form of treatment,” says Shana. “It’s not always right away, but if we build a relationship over time then they may contact us later on asking for help.”

One of the biggest challenges is treatment capacity. When all beds are full, Shana enrolls people in intensive outpatient programs until a slot opens up at a traditional inpatient program. Some will enroll in medication-assistant treatment programs. Another challenge is staying in touch with people who are transient and may have changed address or phone numbers.

Shana and The Rapid Response Team are fortunate to have a variety of resources available to them to help guide people. Other places are not so fortunate. The Santa Fe Prevention Alliance in New Mexico have  similar post-overdose outreach program but have fewer resources to utilize.

“There aren’t a lot of substance use or mental health treatment services in our area where we can refer people,” says Bernie, who visits people who have recently overdosed each week, along with a paramedic from the Santa Fe Fire Department.

We do offer to help people find treatment facilities if they want, but during most of our visits we work with families to come up with an overdose response plan, offer naloxone and training on how to use it, and brainstorm about how to reduce the risk of another overdose. People are excited and respond well to us. No one has ever refused to let us visit.”

Do These Programs Work?

The purpose of these programs is helping those who have recently overdosed from overdosing again. The vast majority of people are receptive to receiving help. In some cases, they may not want help right away but often reach out in the future.

There is a critical overdose epidemic nationwide, and communities are exploring ways to help past the initial overdose reversal. Post-naloxone programs do offer hope, however they are just one solution to a very complex issue. There is not a quick-fix one-step solution–—not naloxone, not post-overdose outreach programs, not more inpatient treatment, not injected medications that block cravings for opioids—is a magic cure.

A combination of efforts that explore a diverse range of treatment options is key. While saving lives using naloxone is extremely important, the post-naloxone addict needs just as much assistance. What are your thoughts? If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, please call now. Do not wait. 

   CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135

Advocates Speak Out: Mental Illness is Not a Halloween Costume 

Advocates Speak Out: Mental Illness is Not a Halloween Costume 

Author: Shernide Delva

Boo! Halloween is around the corner, which means it is that time of the year where people try to go above and beyond with their costume choices.  Of course, there are the usual go-to Halloween costumes we’ve all grown accustomed to seeing. You know what they are: the ghost, the mummy, the “sexy firefighter.”   Costumes like these are pretty harmless and non-offensive.

However,  every year at this time, alongside the vampires, and flesh-eating zombies are the mental hospital patients. You have seen those too. The serial killer, the psychopath, and the “mental institution escapee” are popular choices.  Although costumes like these are familiar, we often don’t think about how those costumes could offend those with mental illnesses. Are costumes like these only further perpetuating the stereotypes?

If you’re like most, you probably thought nothing of these mental illness costumes. However, many have come forward to spread awareness of how these costumes further promote stigma. Now, there is a movement towards informing the public that costumes like these are not harmless.

The Negative Portrayal of Mental Illness

The media already portrays mental illness in such a negative way, and mental illness costumes only further validate those stereotypes.  For those with mental illnesses, they often feel ostracized because of the negative portrayal their disease receives.

Recently, an amusement-park attraction called “Fear VR: 5150” shut down because it centered on an “insane asylum cum horror show.” Several people who struggled with mental illness, or had a loved one struggle with it, found the attraction to be insensitive and inappropriate.

Now, the conversation is shifting towards Halloween costumes.  Mental-illness stigmas are all around us, especially in television and movies. People with psychosis are routinely portrayed as serial killers, or worse.  Just a brief search online and you will see costumes playing on all sorts of mental illness stereotypes. It is likely there will be at least one serial killer, or straitjacket child ringing your doorbell this Halloween.

Advocates Want the Costumes to Stop

So with all the efforts lately to break the stereotypes of mental illness, should there be more of an emphasis on Halloween costumes? Advocates firmly believe so. In recent weeks, there have been numerous arguments made.

Lindsay Holmes, the editor of the Huffington Post, said,

“Mental Illness is a Health Condition, Not Halloween Entertainment.”

Furthermore, writer Colby Iktowitz said in the Washington Post

“Halloween attractions use mental illness to scare us. ”

Iktowitz went on to explain the important reasons why mental illness costumes and attractions should cease to exist.  Iktowitz says the message these costumes send isn’t subtle: People with mental illness are to be feared.

While many of us will read this article and think, “what’s a big deal?” The reality is that for many, costumes like these are incredibly hurtful because they mimic real scenarios they have endured. Pete Earley, an author, and advocate has stood up against these costumes and attractions.

“I realize that some think our protests are political correctness run amok,” he said, “but when you know people who are afraid of seeking treatment because they don’t want to be seen as ‘loonies,’ you understand just how harmful these costumes can be.”

The stigmas surrounding mental illness do not come from the words. They come from how the general public perceives those words. Words like bipolar, schizophrenic and psychopath conjure images in our mind because of how movies and costumes depict them to us.

Showing Support Towards Others

Ultimately, it’s the mass fear of mental illness driven by the public that prevents millions of people from seeking treatment for their condition. Without treatment, their condition worsens, and the scarier the disease can indeed become.

The good news is those with mental illness can recover, or improve with proper treatment and support. For those of us lucky enough to not struggle with mental illnesses, perhaps it might be helpful not to portray them in such a scary light.  It is just a thought. Personally, I’ve become so accustomed to seeing these costumes; it ‘s hard to see how offensive they can be. However, by looking at things from multiple points of view, it allows for better understanding and compassion for others.

What do you think? Should people be more considerate of their costume choices when it comes to mental illnesses?

Halloween is a time for fun and a time to portray all sorts of characters. Still, for those with mental illnesses, their condition does not just go away once November 1st hits. Treatment is critical, and fear should never stop a person from seeking treatment. If you or someone you love is struggling, please reach out and get help. Call toll-free now. We want to help.

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