Questions to Ask When Choosing a Recovery Center

There are many factors to consider when choosing a recovery center. Making the correct choice in care can be the difference between a successful rehabilitation and a relapse in addictive behavior, so the choice can be daunting. By breaking down a list of some of the most important factors to consider, Casa Palmera hopes to aid patients in making the most informed decision possible about the best place to seek treatment and what characteristics are most important in a treatment center.


Do the staff specialize in treating addiction?

For many facilities, whether it be elderly care, child care, or recovery centers, the staff are not necessarily specialized in the field. This is not true of all staff, but the specialization level of the caregivers at treatment centers vary in their level of care, education, experience, and specialty. The distinction lies in the facility itself and its approach to treatment. Some treatment facilities aim to have kind, gentle people working there, but are more lax on the educational and experiential expertise.

However, other facilities strive to find a balance of both – qualified personnel that specializes in addictive behaviors and treatment and that possess the emotional capacity to help the individuals seeking care. These are the types of facilities to target. When selecting a drug and alcohol treatment center, always ensure the staff are specialized and have the experience needed to help.


Is the treatment center accredited?

Whether seeking inpatient or outpatient treatment, it is always vital to check whether or not the recovery center is accredited by the JCAHO, the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Health Care Organizations. In all accredited rehabilitation facilities in the United States, the JCAHO conducts inspections and tours to ensure their standards for care and upkeep are being met. Checking to be sure the recovery center is accredited is an important part of the process in choosing the right facility.


How is the treatment plan structured?

Drug and alcohol treatment centers vary in their approaches to treating addictive behavior, so when looking into choosing a care facility, it is important to consider what the style of care is that they offer. Some recovery centers focus on group therapy, activities, and a collective healing methodology, while others are focused on an individual treatment plan that is privately enacted without any group element. Depending on the facility, they may also offer a hybrid of both. No matter what care is being offered, it is vital to consider how the treatment plan at each recovery center is structured and whether or not they align with the treatment plan you have in mind.


Is the facility clean, inviting, and aesthetically pleasing?

When choosing a treatment center, it is necessary to consider the environment in which the treatment will take place. Consider if you were the one seeking help in this treatment facility: is this somewhere you would feel comfortable spending your time? Does the center seem clean, sanitary, and well maintained? If the facility does not meet these criteria, it is not the right place. A lack of basic sanitization and maintenance indicates a level of disregard that is undesirable in a rehabilitation facility, so always be sure to place yourself in the patient role and make sure it is somewhere you would feel comfortable, safe, and productive.


How many medical professionals are on staff at any given time?

When considering any level of care, it is necessary to ask how many medical professionals are on staff at any given time, as well as what the ratio of patients to medical professionals is. By asking these questions, you will be better prepared to determine the level of care and attentiveness that will be offered to each patient.

In addition to this, you will also be able to gauge how much of an opportunity there is for adverse behavior to take place. If there are ten patients to every one on-staff professional, the potential for mistakes to occur increases exponentially. If the addict seeking care will engage in addictive behavior if left to their own devices for a short period of time, then they will need a facility with a high medical professional count. If the addict seeking care can function autonomously and requires only moderate attention, then a treatment center with less medical professionals on staff at one time may suffice.


What are the policies for administering prescription medications?

For a recovering addict, withdrawals can sometimes be excruciating and may require the use of pharmaceutical medications to ease the transition to sobriety. When choosing a drug and alcohol treatment center, it is imperative to ask what the policies are for how the recovery center administers medications. Always be sure that the policies and procedures for any recovery facility align with your goals for treatment. In addition to this, it is important to ask about the administration of medications in an emergency situation, as these protocols may require an extra note placed into the medical record to deny certain doses or drugs in the event of an emergency.


Choosing the Right Treatment Facility for You

When choosing a recovery center, there is a myriad of questions that must be asked in order to make an informed decision. The above questions are only a sampling of the types of questions that must be asked prior to choosing a treatment center, but they are vital questions that need to be considered in the decision-making process.

Some other important questions to ask are: Who develops the treatment plan for each patient? Are there both inpatient and outpatient treatment options? Will each patient be assigned a particular mentor or advisor during their treatment? How much does the treatment cost? How long is each patient expected to be onsite in each treatment program? What is the aftercare plan upon release from the recovery center? These are just a handful of the questions to ask, but they allow for a conversation to begin and an informed decision-making process to take place when selecting the correct drug and alcohol treatment center.

Breaking the Cycle of Abuse


When seeking help for an addiction, one of the first steps to a successful recovery is realizing the cycle of abuse that underlies addictive behavior. Addiction is pervasive and all-encompassing, but it can be overcome through breaking this cycle. In order to successfully stop the cycle of addiction, it is important to recognize the stages of the cycle, as well as common addiction triggers for each individual.


Building Phase

During this phase, individuals are attempting to stem their addictive urges and live without indulging them. However, external and internal stimuli combine to form tension and stress on the individual. Addiction triggers vary greatly depending on personal experience and the type of addiction they have, but all addicts have certain triggers that push them to engage in addictive behavior.

One of the most important steps in a successful recovery is ascertaining the addiction triggers that force each unique addict back into the cycle of abuse. Once these catalysts are identified, steps can be taken to mitigate their effect and redirect that energy towards a more positive, healthy outcome instead of engaging in addictive behavior.

For many addicts, it takes deep introspection and examination to identify their particular triggers and attempt to lessen their effects. During this building phase, addicts experience an increasingly strong urge to engage in addictive behavior, and for those that do choose to indulge in their addiction, they enter the abuse phase.


Abuse Phase

The abuse phase is often the phase that addicts and their loved ones know best. When an addict begins to engage in addictive behavior, it can be exceedingly difficult to pull them away and break the addiction cycle. During this phase, an addict will act on the urges they were resisting in the building phase. In order to exit this phase, an addict must realize that their behavior is self-destructive and possess the will to break this destructive cycle and enter the recovery phase.

The breaking point for this phase varies depending on the individual. Some addicts recognize the need to seek help when they hurt a loved one, are arrested by law enforcement, or any number of circumstances. The commonalities of this phase include destructive behavior and a struggle to find a way to escape the need to continue engaging in addictive behaviors. This phase is the easiest to enter and the hardest to exit, but what lies on the other side of the abuse phase is worth the effort.


Recovery Phase

The recovery phase is where Casa Palmera can intercede to help addicts regain their footing and begin the process of emotional and physical healing. In order to break the cycle of addiction, the underlying behavioral and emotional issues each addict faces must be dealt with. For many addicts, there has been trauma and emotional pain that has caused them to succumb to addictive impulses and behaviors.

The recovery phase can take many forms depending on the type of addiction, the severity of the addiction, and the unique emotional, physical, and mental characteristics that comprise the individual. Casa Palmera offers a variety of different treatment types to best suit the needs of those in the recovery phase and help them to break the cycle of addiction.


Casa Palmera offers three different types of care including Residential Treatment (RTC), Partial Hospitalization with or without board (PHP), and Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP). These varying levels allow each patient to customize their care to their personality, situation, and addiction. Determining factors for choosing the right type of care can vary, but the most important thing to consider is what will work best for the patient.


Steps to Take to Break the Cycle of Abuse

  • Surround yourself with loved ones, friends, and family that can act as a support structure and encourage non-addictive behavior.
  • Seek professional help to aid you in your path to sobriety.
  • Identify your potential addiction triggers and consider why they act as a trigger.
  • Using this knowledge about your addiction triggers, develop a plan to mitigate their effects and avoid allowing your addiction triggers to push you into the cycle of abuse.
  • Find a way to compartmentalize and process potential addiction triggers in a healthy, productive way. Examples of this can be exercising, playing with your dog, watching a favorite show, spending time with a friend, cooking a nice meal, or any number of other possibilities. Find something you love to do that releases stress, and turn all of your anxiety, pressure, guilt, and pain into something healthy and happy. By doing this each time you feel the urge to engage in addictive behavior, you create a new habit that is beneficial instead of destructive.
  • Remove all reminders and paraphernalia associated with your addiction from your life so that they cannot be easily accessed.
  • Cease all connection with people who will encourage or incite addictive behavior in you.
  • Develop a set of both short-term and long-term goals, as well as potential rewards for when each goal is met. There should be goals that are both relatively easy and exceedingly difficult. In having a balance of both, you will have the opportunity to succeed and gain positive momentum, as well as more long-term goals to commit to.
  • Remember to be kind to yourself and celebrate each day that you do not succumb to the cycle of addiction.


The cycle of abuse that addicts face is an exceedingly difficult process to break. The path between these phases can be murky and circular depending on the struggles of the individual addict, but each addict will pass through these phases during their journey.


Our goal at Casa Palmera is to help patients identify their addiction triggers, get the help and support they need, and break the cycle of addiction and abuse that defines the recovery process. Please don’t hesitate to reach out for help if you or a loved one battle with an addiction. You are not alone.

What You Need to Know About Opiate Addiction

Being aware of the risks involved as well as the signs of opioid abuse is vital to helping you or a loved one get proper help. To help keep the public educated, here are some of the things you need to know to understand the opioid abuse epidemic.
Earlier this month, it was revealed that music legend, Prince, was the latest celebrity to die from a drug overdose. According to a report by the Midwest Medical Examiner’s Office in Minnesota, the pop star died of a self-administered accidental overdose of fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opioid painkiller. His death shines yet another light on the very serious opioid abuse epidemic affecting public health in the United States.

According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more people died from drug overdoses in 2014 than in any year on record. Of the deaths, more than 60% involved opioids and it’s estimated that a staggering 78 Americans die from opioid overdose per day.

What is an opioid?

To put it simply, opiates or opioids are a class of drugs that are used to treat pain. They are legal drugs, such as medically prescribed Oxycontin and Vicodin, as well as illegal street drugs like Heroine. Both are chemically related and interact with opioid receptors on nerve cells in the brain, brainstem, spinal cord, gastrointestinal tract, and other organs.

Here is a list of commonly used opioids according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services:

• Oxycodone (OxyContin, Percodan, Percocet)
• Hydrocodone (Vicodin, Lortab, Lorcet)
• Diphenoxylate (Lomotil)
• Morphine (Kadian, Avinza, MS Contin)
• Codeine
• Fentanyl (Duragesic)
• Propoxyphene (Darvon)
• Hydromorphone (Dilaudid)
• Meperidine (Demerol)
• Methadone

When opioid drugs or our body’s natural opioid (endorphins) are released within the body and bind to opioid receptors, they alter the way our body regulates pain, breathing, and digestion. For some people, the binding of these drugs to opioid receptors in reward regions of the brain produces a sense of wellbeing and has a high risk of dependence or addiction if not used properly (National Institute on Drug Abuse).

What Are The Risks of Taking Opioids?

Opioids are often prescribed in pill form by doctors after surgery or to help patients deal with chronic pain. Opioid abuse and addiction can occur when opioids are not used exactly as directed by doctors or are repeatedly abused.

Long-term opioid use changes the way nerve cells work in the brain known as opioid dependence. It can happen to people who take opioids for a long time to treat pain as prescribed by their doctor. The nerve cells grow accustomed to having opioids around. When they are taken away suddenly, the person can experience unpleasant mental and physical feelings and reactions known as withdrawal.

Here are common opiate withdrawal symptoms:

• Nausea, vomiting and dry mouth
• Sleepiness and dizziness
• Diarrhea
• Confusion
• Depression
• Low levels of testosterone that can result in lower sex drive, energy, and strength
• Itching and sweating

Over time, more of the drug is needed for the same pain treatment effect, which is known as drug tolerance. This can mean that a higher dose is needed or that a person is showing signs of opioid abuse and requires more of the drug to prevent withdrawal symptoms.

How Are Opioids Abused?

Opioids are abused when people actively misuse the drug as it was designed and intended. For example, when a higher dose is taken than was prescribed or when an opioid is taken which had been prescribed for someone else.

Because opioids attach to opioid receptors, they not only diminish the perception of pain but can cause a person to feel relaxed and euphoric by affecting areas of the brain that deal with pleasure.

Opioids in their medically prescribed pill-form are designed to be released over a longer period of time. For example, extended-release Oxycodone is designed to release slowly and steadily into the bloodstream when taken orally, which minimizes its euphoric effect.

After long-term, repeated use, it can be common for opioid abusers to begin crushing the pills into powder and snort or inject the drug, causing the drug to enter the bloodstream and brain to reach the euphoric feeling faster.

Someone who abuses opioids in this way may have developed a clear sign of addiction and have strong urges for the intense euphoria only opioids can deliver. They no longer feel satisfied by life’s simple pleasures (such as desserts, playing with pets, or a walk along the beach).

How Does Opiate Addiction Happen?

Opioid addiction is when people compulsively seek out the drug to achieve its pleasure-inducing effects even though they know it can have damaging effects. Most notably, stimulation of opioid receptors in deeper brain regions results in drowsiness and that can lead to hypoventilation.

In fact, taking just one large dose of prescription pain pills or Heroine could cause someone’s breathing to stop.

In some cases, when people addicted to prescription opioids are no longer able to get access to prescription pain medication, they typically turn to Heroine, which commonly leads to drug abuse and overdose as well.

Because opioids are incredibly powerful, individuals prescribed opioid medications should only take them under appropriate medical supervision. They should also be medically supervised when stopping use to reduce or prevent withdrawal symptoms and overdose.

Are There Treatments for Opioid Abuse?

People who abuse or are addicted to prescription opioid medications can be treated. The first step is to undergo medically supervised detoxification to help reduce withdrawal symptoms which can last from hours to weeks depending on the severity of the abuse. This process is both physically and mentally demanding and the reason why many people return to their addictive behavior. The most effective approach has been proven to introduce behavioral treatment combined with medications.

Casa Palmera offers treatment for Opioid Abuse for people who are addicted to prescription opiates. Upon evaluation, the treatment plan may include medically supervised detoxification followed by behavior modification treatments combined with medications. We offer this comprehensive help to those afflicted so that they can begin to enjoy life again.

By The Numbers: The U.S. Prescription Pain Killers Epidemic

Did you know more Americans now die every year from drug overdoses than they do in motor vehicle crashes?

Prescription drug abuse and heroin use have taken a heartbreaking toll on too many Americans and their families. Sadly, the United States is currently in the midst of a prescription opioid overdose epidemic.

Addressing the public health issue, President Obama has recently proposed $1.1 billion in new funding to help combat the prescription pain medication addiction and heroin use epidemic.

Read on to discover how prescription pain medication abuse and addiction is one of the nation’s top health challenges.

The Rise of Prescription Painkillers

From 1999 to 2014, the rate of overdose deaths involving opioids nearly quadrupled. According to the U.S. Health and Human Services, in 2014, more than 28,000 people died from an opioid overdose and at least half of those deaths involved a prescription opioid (U.S. Health and Human Services).

As you can see from information gathered by the Center for Disease Control, many Americans abused or became addicted to prescription or illegal opioids in recent years:

  • From 1999 to 2014, more than 165,000 people died from an overdose related to prescription opioid pain medication.
  • In 2014, almost 2 million Americans abused or became dependent on prescription opioids.
  • In 2014, over 60% of drug overdose deaths involved an opioid.
  • In 2013, healthcare providers wrote 249 million prescriptions for opioid pain relievers. That’s enough for every American adult to have their own bottle of pills.
  • Every day, over 1,000 people are treated in emergency departments for misusing prescription opioids.
  • Every day, 78 people in the United States die because of prescription overdoses.
  • 25% of people who receive prescription opioids long-term for non-cancer pain in primary care settings struggle with addiction.
  • 60% of adults prescribed opioid painkillers have leftover pills.


Sharp Increase in Heroin-Related Deaths

Heroin-related deaths have also increased sharply, more than tripling since 2010. In 2014, more than 10,500 people died from heroin. The CDC reports that among new heroin users, nearly 40% have abused prescription opioids prior to using heroin. This is most likely a result of prescription pain medication abusers turning to heroin.

When people addicted to prescription opioids have difficulty getting prescription pain medication, it drives them to heroin because it is more accessible on the street. The increased availability, lower cost, and increased purity of heroin has been identified as possible contributors to rising rates of heroin use and overdose in the U.S.

What Causes Prescription Pain Medication Addiction?

There are some risk factors that can make some patients vulnerable to abuse and overdose, such as:

  • Obtaining overlapping prescriptions from multiple providers and pharmacies.
  • Taking high daily dosages of prescription pain relievers.
  • Having previous mental illness or a history of alcohol or other substance abuse.

The biggest risk of prescription pain medication is the euphoric effect it can produce which attracts abuse. In any form, opioids attach to opioid receptors in our brain. These receptors not only regulate pain but also affect functions of the brain that produce pleasure. The longer and more consistently the drugs are used, the more likely it is that dependence grows and chances of opioid abuse can increase in order to achieve the euphoric feeling.

In time, withdrawal symptoms become overwhelming and the impulse to seek prescription pain medication in greater quantity and doses just to feel “normal” again grows stronger. Ultimately, taking too many prescription pain medications can lead to overdose or death.


An Increase in Painkiller Prescribing Is a Key Factor

Prescription opioids are typically prescribed following surgery, injury, or insufferable pain associated with late-stage cancer. In recent years, there has been a dramatic increase in the acceptance and use of prescription opioids for the treatment of chronic, non-cancer pain despite serious risks and the lack of evidence about their long-term effectiveness.

Notably, research shows inappropriate prescribing practices and opioid prescribing rates are substantially higher among Medicaid patients than among privately insured patients. To help alleviate the problem, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently issued guidelines for prescribing opioids for chronic pain as part of an effort to push doctors to prescribe pain medications responsibly, such as lower dosages and shorter time-periods (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced that immediate-release opioid painkillers such as oxycodone and fentanyl will now have to carry a “black box” warning (the FDA’s strongest) about the risk of abuse, addiction, overdose, and death.


Knowing More About the Damaging Effects of Prescription Painkillers

When it comes to prescription medication, it can be easy to assume that because a doctor directed you to take them, the medication must not be seriously dangerous. Somehow, medical drugs are less dangerous than illicit drugs, despite the identical effects of both drugs. Following this logic, one can assume, “If one drug is good, then two must be better, and three won’t be too bad if I’m feeling stronger pain.”

This type of mentality is dangerous for anyone with prescription pain medication to adopt, not just for the patient, but friends and family as well.

According to the CDC, those who are at highest risk of overdose get opioids in several ways:

  • 27% obtain a prescription from their doctor
  • 26% from friends or relatives for free
  • 23% buying from friends or relatives
  • 15% buying from a drug dealer

Most people who abuse prescription opioids get them for free from a friend or relative and those at highest risk of overdose are nearly four times more likely than the average user to buy the drugs from a dealer or other stranger.

How Can You Prevent Prescription Pain Medication Abuse?

Although prescription opioids can help manage some types of pain, as more data is being studied, it appears there is not enough evidence that opioids improve chronic pain, function, and quality of life. Moreover, among other factors, long-term use of prescription pain relievers for chronic pain can put patients at risk to develop dependence, drug abuse, and reach overdose at higher dosages.

There are several ways to help prevent opioid abuse:

  • Avoid taking prescription painkillers more often than prescribed. Use Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMPs) if available.
  • Get rid of medications properly as soon as treatment is done, and avoid keeping prescription painkillers around “just in case.”
  • Help prevent misuse and abuse by not selling or sharing prescription drugs with anyone.
  • Tell your doctor if you have a history of addiction.
  • Ask your doctor about alternative pain treatment.

If you or a someone you know is struggling with opiate addiction or prescription pain medication, do not wait to seek professional help. Casa Palmera can help. Using a combination of cognitive behavioral groups, individual psychotherapy, and holistic adjunctive treatment techniques, we can guide you on the path towards a healthier and happier life.

Inpatient vs. Outpatient Treatment

Individuals who seek treatment for substance abuse problems have varying needs based on their specific circumstances. There are multiple treatment options available to those suffering from the disease of addiction. Casa Palmera offers three levels of care including Residential Treatment (RTC), Partial Hospitalization with or without board (PHP), and Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP). Weekly continuing care is provided for people who successfully complete treatment. Typically the level of care that a person will admit to is dependent upon the substance they are using, frequency of use and consequences of use.


For instance, if a person has been drinking for years and is unable to stop on their own even for a short period of time, they most likely will require an inpatient or residential level of care. This might be a person who is not using to feel a sense of euphoria or “high” but rather using to feel normal. It is likely such a person will require a period of time to be safely titrated off the substance they are dependent on.


The level of care a person is appropriate for is determined by specific medical necessity criteria; determined by their pattern of use and what happens when they stop using; even for a short period. For instance, do they suffer withdrawal symptoms when they stop using? This can create an unsafe environment for a person, and in order to guarantee their safety they need to be in a safe environment with nursing care.



For many, the first step to sobriety is detoxification. An inpatient facility is recommended, as this can at times be life threatening for the person. A medically supervised, inpatient facility offers a higher-level of safety and observation as the patient works through the process. Withdrawal symptoms can vary by intensity depending on the length of time and amount the person has been using. The onset of withdrawal symptoms can take place as early as two hours after the last drink and can go on for weeks or months as with opiate detoxification. The person may experience some of the following symptoms including vomiting, mild anxiety, shakiness, seizures, confusion, rapid heartbeat, fever, hallucinations, irregular heartbeats or delirium tremens (DTs).


Residential Treatment Program (RTC) or Inpatient

Many patients continue inpatient care at the same facility where they receive detox treatment. The recommended length of stay is 30 days in an environment designed to teach the patient about life changing tools that will help them during treatment and recovery. The patient will gain support and share with others who have experienced similar struggles.


Another benefit of inpatient care is that the person is removed from the current living environment that may influence their life threatening behavior. This may include access to the substance of choice, family or friends who themselves may not know how to support the person, as well as events or situations that may trigger the reckless behavior. A residential treatment setting allows the patient to fully focus all their efforts on recovery in a structured, medically supervised environment.


Casa Palmera’s program provides a 12-Step approach supported by evidence based, holistic treatment. As an inpatient, individual and group therapy is conducted by Master level clinicians. The groups provide an opportunity for patients to process their feelings and learn about tools to help achieve and maintain sobriety. The patient will gain knowledge about the disease of addiction, identify and cope with triggers, and be able to make choices that are focused on healthy living. The emotional support and steadfastness that comes with inpatient care through the clinical staff and the other patients is invaluable.


Partial Hospitalization (PHP) or Outpatient Treatment Programs

The Partial Hospitalization program for substance addiction is structured similarly to inpatient treatment but not as restrictive. The patient may live at home or in a sober living environment. Outpatient treatment is suitable for those patients who do not meet medical criteria for inpatient treatment. PHP offers more flexibility with daily schedules and operates Monday through Friday from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm. When the patient is not participating in outpatient sessions, they must voluntarily abstain from drugs and alcohol.

Those who receive outpatient care still have access to a support network and are not facing recovery alone. Outpatient care includes support groups, counseling sessions, and access to Narcotics Anonymous as well as Alcoholics Anonymous. The resources provided through the outpatient program, supports the patient who is transitioning home with the goal of maintaining long-term sobriety.

Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP)

The Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) is designed for those who need minimal structure and do not need the medical support that the other levels of care offer. The person enrolled in the IOP program is empowered to live independently with the support of their family and community. IOP patients have the option of a day or evening program that meets three days a week. The IOP-AM program operates Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 9:15am – 12:30pm. The IOP-PM program operates Monday, Wednesday and Thursdays from 6:00 pm to 9:30 pm.


Continuing Care

After patients successfully complete treatment at Casa Palmera, they are invited to participate in the continuing care group. The cost of Continuing Care is included in your treatment cost for up to one year post-discharge. The group meets on Tuesday evenings between 6:00pm to 7:30 pm.


Seeking Treatment for Addiction

Addiction is a disease and requires the knowledge and support of dedicated professionals who can provide treatment in a safe environment. The clinical team at Casa Palmera will recommend a level of care based on the needs of the individual patient. Inpatient and outpatient treatment programs are proven methods to successfully help a person to stop using drugs and alcohol. With the proper support, relapse can be more readily avoided leading to a more promising future. For more information about our programs and levels of care, please visit our website at


The Dangers of Marijuana Wax: Get the Facts

While cannabis may be legal to smoke in some states, there are laws in place that prevent individuals from smoking in public areas. As a result, the consumer has developed a way around this through the production of marijuana wax. Since the wax can be ingested by using an E-Cigarette or Vaporizer, it gives off the illusion that the individual is smoking vape, which is less regulated. In addition, one hit of wax can be up to four times as potent leading to its growing popularity. (cite reference)

What is Marijuana Wax?
Marijuana wax is derived directly from marijuana and is commonly known as Butane Hash Oil (BHO), honey oil, budder, and shatter. The wax contains a higher concentration of Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) extract than cannabis, which is the chemical responsible for the psychological effects on the brain. Wax resembles honey or candle wax and is most commonly smoked through a bong or e-cigarette. It can also be applied topically or added to food. The more potent and powerful concentration of THC leads to an immediate feeling of euphoria.

How is it made?
Marijuana wax is mainly made up of two ingredients: cannabis and alcohol. Different alcohols require distinct methods to extract the oils from the marijuana and are associated with different risks. The two most common methods of production are BHO/Butane Hash Oil and Isopropyl.

Method 1- BHO/Butane Hash Oil (most common)
The dried cannabis is stuffed into an open-ended tube where one end is covered by a filter (most commonly a coffee filter) and the other end is closed. Butane is injected into the tube and causes the oils to extract from the plant. The combination is drained into a container and heated at extreme temperatures until the wax is produced.

Method 2 – Isopropyl
When using isopropyl alcohol, the cannabis is first soaked in the alcohol for a period of time before being drained into a container. The liquid from the soaked mixture is then heated at an extremely high temperature until most of the alcohol evaporates and wax is produced.
The concern with the production of marijuana wax is that many individuals are attempting to make it at home. Due to the high temperatures needed to combine marijuana with butane and isopropyl alcohol solutions, there is an extremely high risk of accidental fire which can lead to property damage, personal injury or death. The increased popularity of making the marijuana wax at home has led many states to propose strict laws to regulate the growing problem.

What are the Health Risks Associated with Marijuana Wax?
It is common to use low-quality alcohol to make the process faster and cheaper leading to serious side effects and extreme harm to the consumer. Recent studies have linked the use of marijuana wax to irreversible brain damage. In one case, after ingesting the substance a young high school student was left unconscious and awoke with 75% of his cognitive abilities damaged. (cite reference) The high potency of the wax has proven to increase the risk of an accidental overdose. In addition, the hallucinogenic effects of the drug have been linked to paranoia, psychosis, and hallucinations which can last for days.
Since wax is directly derived from cannabis, it poses similar health risks such as:
● Impaired judgment
● Poor concentration
● Short-term memory loss
● Impaired motor skills
● Suppression of the immune system
● Personality and mood changes
● Reduced sexual capacity
● Sensory distortion

The high potency of THC highly increases the risk of:
● Vomiting
● Severe withdrawal symptoms
● Paranoia
● Anxiety
● Severe psychological symptoms

Butane causes serious side effects because not all of the butane is always burned off in the process of creating the wax. The butane left in the substance poses various health risks including:
● Permanent damage to the brain and central nervous system
● Increased heart rate
● Loss of consciousness

What are the Dangers of Dependency?
As with any substance, the potency of THC and the euphoria experienced can lead to dependency and abuse in search of the “next big high”. Due to its odorless and discrete nature, it is becoming increasingly popular among high school students and young adults. Though there are numerous risks associated with this trend, the biggest concern may be that individuals are quickly getting swept up into the drug culture. The wax has the potential to act as a gateway drug to harder substances that can produce an even bigger high. If you or someone you know is at risk for abusing marijuana wax or any other substance, Casa Palmera can help find the program that best supports the individual who is struggling with addiction.

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“‘Dabbing’ Marijuana Is Gaining Popularity, But Is It Dangerous?” Medical Daily. N.p., 15 June 2015. Web. 01 June 2016.
“FindLaw’s California Court of Appeal Case and Opinions.” Findlaw. N.p., n.d. Web. 01 June 2016.
Jackman, Caressi. “‘The Dangers of Dabbing'” ABC 12 News. N.p., 7 May 2015. Web. 23 May 2016.
“Marijuana “Dabs” Proven To Cause Irreversible Brain Damage.” National Report RSS. N.p., 28 Feb. 2015. Web. 01 June 2016.
Velardo, M. “Hash oil dabbing, drug’s popularity growing among teens.” Examiner. 17 September 2013. Web. 23 May 2016.
Winstock, Adam. “Butane Hash Oil — The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.” The Huffington Post. 2 December 2014. Web. 23 May 2016.

Eating Disorder Statistics and Trends

Eating disorder statistics and research consistently show how serious eating disorders can be. Anorexia nervosa, binge eating disorder, and bulimia nervosa all have long-lasting effects on a person’s body and overall well-being. They aren’t limited to affecting only one gender, age group, ethnicity, or income level. Eating disorders can affect anyone. In fact, at some point in their life, 20 million women and 10 million men will suffer from an eating disorder in the United States.

Keep in mind eating disorder statistics do not include the number of cases that go unreported by people across the country who struggle with the same body issues and experience the same disease.

Additional facts about eating disorders may be startling to some, but for the millions it affects every year, it’s a day-to-day struggle that’s all too familiar. Approximately 2 to 5 percent of Americans will suffer from a binge-eating disorder in a 6-month period. Of the people who experience anorexia, 20 percent will die prematurely from related complications such as malnutrition, heart problems, or suicide.

Among those who suffer from mental illness, eating disorders have the highest mortality rate. Additionally, people with Anorexia often die of illnesses associated with Anorexia, but the eating disorder is not reported as the cause of death.

One study included a target group of 6,000 people suffering from anorexia nervosa, tracking them over a 30-year period. The study revealed death rates that were six times higher when compared to that of the general population. These deaths were due to the direct or indirect consequences of an eating disorder, substance abuse, or completed suicide.

Eating Disorders and Age

Body dissatisfaction often develops at a young age and can be one of the precursors to the development of an eating disorder. Eating disorders and body image distortion can start early in childhood. According to the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA),2 42 percent of girls in grades 1-3 want to be thinner, and 81 percent of 10-year-olds have a fear of “being fat.” Since these concerns and body perceptions start at such a young age, unless treated, they may continue into one’s teenage years and through adulthood.

Among college aged females, 25 percent of women report that they have engaged in bulimic behavior including a cycle of bingeing and purging as a form of weight control. Additionally, over half of teenage girls and approximately one-third of teenage boys participate in weight control by skipping meals, excessive exercise, taking laxatives, or vomiting.

The Impact of Media

Poor body image has been a long-standing problem in the U.S. due in part to the portrayal of the “ideal” body type in the media. In reality, only about 5 percent of American females fit this preconceived ideal. Yet, millions of girls aspire to a certain thinness or “goal weight” that may not be a healthy match for their body type, height, lifestyle, or genetics. Whether directly or indirectly, media affects our perception of what a “healthy” or “normal” body type should look like.

According to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders, this constant media message has a direct impact.3 It reports:

● Nearly half of girls from 5th-12th grade have reported wanting to lose weight based on images seen in magazines; and
● Almost 70 percent of girls in the same age range admit magazine photos influence their idea of what the “perfect” body type is.

Mental and Physical Effects

4When a person experiences anorexia nervosa, the body goes through a cycle of starvation, which deplete the nutrients needed for normal functioning. It slows down the body’s processes in order to conserve energy and subsequently may result in health issues including:

● Low blood pressure
● Abnormally slow heart rate
● Increased risk for heart failure
● Reduction of bone density and muscle loss
● Dehydration
● Fatigue
● Hair loss

For those who suffer from bulimia nervosa, the cycle of bingeing and purging disrupts the entire digestive system and can lead to disruption of the heart and other major organs. It creates an imbalance in electrolytes within the body and can lead to a gastric rupturing or a rupture of the esophagus due to the frequency of vomiting.

Eating disorder statistics also reveal that binge eating disorder shows many of the associated health risks linked to obesity such as:

● High cholesterol
● High blood pressure
● Heart disease
● Type 2 diabetes

It is also not uncommon for eating disorders to occur simultaneously with other psychiatric disorders including alcohol or substance abuse, depression, or obsessive-compulsive disorder. Eating disorder statistics show that nearly half of the people who suffer from this disease also meet the criteria for depression. Among this population, only 1 in 10 people will receive treatment.

Casa Palmera provides support for those battling eating disorders and any related problems with substance abuse. Due to the complex nature of eating disorders and the medical attention necessary to help treat them, each treatment experience is individualized and tailored to the person’s symptoms, medical history and needs.

Cited sources:

How to Identify a High-Functioning Alcoholic


According to National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, approximately 88,000 people will die annually from alcohol-related causes. It is the “third leading preventable cause of death in the United States” and cost over $223.5 billion annually.1 In 2013, 16.6 million adults over the age of 18 had an Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) (DSM–IV), while only about 1.3 million or 7.8% received treatment at a specialized facility.1 A growing concern is the High-Functioning Alcoholic (HFA) who goes undetected in the community because they appear to work or operate well in society. But behind closed doors, this individual is struggling with the disease of alcoholism and in need of help.


What is a High-Functioning Alcoholic?

According to the book Understanding the High-Functioning Alcoholic 3 by Sarah Benton, a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, a High-Functioning Alcoholic is defined as “a person who defies the stereotype of the image of the typical alcoholic.”3 They are able to maintain jobs, families, and day to day living with little to no disruption in their normal routine. The High-Functioning Alcoholic typically is in denial about their abuse which in turn makes them less likely to seek treatment.

What is the pattern for drinking?

Whether you are concerned about yourself or another person who may be living as a High-Functioning Alcoholic, the first question you should ask is what the person’s pattern for consuming alcohol is? Men would be considered at high risk or a heavy drinker if they consume more than 4 standard drinks on any day and more than 14 drinks per week. While women who consume more than 3 standard drinks on any day and more than 7 drinks per week would be considered high risk. 4

A “standard” drink is considered to be: 4

  • Regular Beer (12 fl oz.) – 5% alcohol
  • Malt liquor (8-9 fl oz.) – 7% alcohol
  • Glass of Wine (5 fl oz.) – 12% alcohol
  • 80 proof alcohol (1.5 fl oz.)- 40% alcohol

Studies show that about 1 in 4 people who drink in excess of these limits already has an Alcohol Use Disorder and that the rest will likely develop a problem over time. However, other factors must be considered when identifying alcohol abuse to include how fast a person drinks, medical conditions, age, BMI, prescribed medications, and how alcohol may affect an individual. Any of these factors can enhance the effects of alcohol on a person which can lead to health and personal problems.

Possible Behavior of the HFA

Detecting a High-Functioning Alcoholic can be difficult because often times there are not any obvious patterns of abuse. However, repeated episodes of abusive behavior may be a sign that someone needs help. Some behavior that may be observed and a cause for concern include:

  1. Drinks seem to be “unlimited” – They often want “just one more” or will continue to drink after everyone else is done.
  2. No drink is left behind – Leaving a drink on the table is not an option for a High-Functioning Alcoholic.
  3. Frequent Blackouts – Often times, the person will not remember certain events that took place or periods of time are lost “even though they did not seem intoxicated at the time” or demonstrate a high tolerance.
  4. Aggressive Behavior – As the person drinks, you may notice a change in behavior such as aggression or defensiveness if they are questioned about their drinking.
  5. Denying there is a problem – When a person is questioned about their drinking behavior, the result may be adamant denial that there is a problem. They often feel that since they are able to function so well in society that there is no problem.
  6. Jokes about his or her drinking
  7. Misses or is regularly late to appointments or work
  8. Gets a DUI or is confronted with other legal problems due to alcohol
  9. Alcohol is used as a tool to relax or build confidence
  10. Hides their drinking
  11. Drinks any time during the day including morning or when alone
  12. Thinks they are in control of their drinking.
  13. They may drink instead of eating or substitute alcohol for food.
  14. After a heavy night of drinking, they will regularly wake up without a hangover.
  15. They may go through periods of abstaining from alcohol which may result in a negative physical reaction such as irritability, nervousness, anxiety, sweating, increased heart rate, and feelings of being uncomfortable.

Risk Factors for Becoming an HFA

Anyone can develop into a High-Functioning Alcoholic. Among some of the factors that may put a person at higher risk includes having a family history of alcohol problems, a history of injuries or legal problems that are related to drinking, a person who begins drinking at an early age, may suffer from trauma or a mental health disorder, abuses other substances whether legal or not, a high stress job or a strong peer influence who over consume alcohol.

How to approach an HFA about Treatment

Addressing someone who you suspect has a problem with alcohol or is in denial is not easy. The first step is to consult a professional for personal support to learn about how to approach the person and talk to them about your concerns. The conversation should take place at a time when the person has not been drinking and includes how their behavior has affected the family and those around them. There are many professional interventionists who are trained specifically in talking to someone about this problem and can help navigate the denial and resistance that may arise. The person must be willing to consider they have a problem in order for them to be receptive to getting the help they need or be willing to accept they have caused concern by friends and family.

If you think someone you care about may be dependent on alcohol and is in need of treatment, Casa Palmera can help in their recovery. We offer a medically supervised detox that assists a person who has been drinking heavily over time. A person who suddenly stops drinking on their own can suffer from life-threatening complications. Our trained medical staff will help the patient develop a safe recovery plan that is individualized and best suited for them. Casa Palmera understands that recovery is not an easy process, and we are here to provide the tools needed to be successful so that life can begin again.


Alcohol Facts and Statistics, 1


Understanding the High-Functioning Alcoholic: Professional Views and Personal Insights, Sarah A Benton M.S., LMHC, LPC 3

Rethinking Drinking (NIAAA booklet): Alcohol and Your Health, 4

School Daze: the Dangerous Long Term Effects of “Study Drugs”

Why Do People Take Study Drugs?

“Stay in school, don’t do drugs.” This colloquial mantra holds true, especially in this day and age of study drugs, legal medications that are used for nonmedical purposes, e.g., studying. Ironically, many high school and college students believe that they need drugs to stay in school and improve their performance–which, of course, is never the answer to academic problems. But in today’s cutthroat culture of academia, young people are drawn to promises of heightened energy levels or an increased ability to concentrate. Adderall and Ritalin–prescription drugs used to treat ADHD–are cheaply bought, sold, and misused on college campuses. According to SAMHSA, approximately 6.4% of full-time college students used Adderall non-medically in the past year. Young people are purchasing the “magic” pills that pledged to help them to focus, memorize, and regurgitate information with the greatest of ease. What these students don’t see? The very consequences that will come back to haunt them: mental and physical harm which they will begin to see as they age–as they realize that it is too late to reconsider the damage they have done.

The Consequences:

Side effects of Adderall include nausea, restlessness, seizures, verbal tics, and many more. However, these are all short-term effects Adderall may have on one’s system. Over a long period of time, it is also possible for someone to become addicted to it. After years of taking it, hallucinations and memory loss may occur as a result of continuous over-stimulation. Anxiety, heightened blood pressure, and weight loss or gain are also common long-term effects.

Getting Help:

As with addiction to any drug–prescription or otherwise–it is imperative to seek help immediately. Casa Palmera offers a variety of resources to those who want to recover from experience with substance abuse. By emphasizing a whole-person approach, we can help you reclaim a healthy, balanced lifestyle.


What You Don’t Know Will Hurt You: Dangers of Liquid Nicotine


A “personal vaporizer” uses batteries to convert liquid nicotine into vapor, which is inhaled by the user. Although they are more expensive than e-cigarettes, vaporizers are often chosen over the latter because they are refillable, whereas their closed-cartridge counterparts are not. Despite the novelty of devices that are rumored to help wean people off of traditional cigarettes, there is a side to them that is both frightening and enlightening.

According to a story in the San Diego Union Tribune, “in California, toxic exposures [from e-cigarette devices and liquid nicotine] rose from 12 reported in 2011 to 243 in 2014.” Most of those who were affected by these exposures were children under the age of six. Needless to say, the use of liquid nicotine is cause for concern. The vapors produced by e-cigarettes do not contain tobacco, but new formulas for the nicotine are highly dangerous if not properly used. The nicotine retains its addictive quality, so there is still a risk of addiction to e-cigarettes and vaporizers. If a person develops an addiction and they don’t have any liquid nicotine on hand, they could turn to traditional cigarettes. According to, Teenagers who used e-cigarettes were more likely to use conventional tobacco products than those that did not.

Pick Your Poison?

According to the FDA, consumers do not know exactly how much nicotine is being inhaled during use or if there are any benefits of using e-cigarettes and vaporizers. It is a classic situation of “pick your poison”. Over the last decade, liquid nicotine appears to be the more popular choice. Is it the consumers’ excitement over the 7,764 available flavors? Or is it the marketing strategies implemented by tobacco companies that have the ability to entice young adults that might have never considered using the product? Be it what it may, consumer have very little knowledge of its potential harm to ones health.

E-cigarettes are often marketed as “aids to quit smoking” or ‘alternatives to tobacco”, according to the World Health Organization. However, a report by the World Health Organization said that there wasn’t enough evidence to conclude that liquid nicotine can help smokers quit using. Despite serious health concerns and a number of toxic exposures, experimentation among adolescents increased twofold between 2008 and 2012. This is just one of the factors that led the development of the e-cigarette industry into a three billion dollar industry. Surprising as it may sound, the allure of a new-and-improved cigarette is too much for many to resist. Perhaps what we don’t know about these products is the most alarming thing about them.