First Responders and Veterans Are at a Higher Risk of Developing Substance Abuse Issues Due to Constant Physical Stress and Exposure to Trauma
KING OF PRUSSIA, Pa., May 17, 2018 /PRNewswire/ —Recovery Centers of America (RCA), a neighborhood-based addiction treatment provider delivering individualized, evidence-based care, announced the launch of a First Responders Program at the company’s facility in Devon. The program is designed to treat the specialized needs of law enforcement, firefighters, correctional officers, EMTs/paramedics and veterans grappling with drug and alcohol addiction.
“What people don’t realize is that many first responders – the very people who we rely on in times of need – are facing a crisis of their own,” said Clare Seletsky, Director of the First Responders Program at Recovery Centers of America. “Research shows that first responders and veterans are at a significantly higher risk of developing substance abuse issues as a result of their constant physical strain and exposure to trauma.”
“In fact, according to the National P.O.L.I.C.E. Suicide Foundation, approximately 85 percent of police officers who commit suicide are found to be under the influence of alcohol,” she continued. “First responders often suffer in silence for fear that the stigma of addiction will cost them their jobs. Our program allows them to get the treatment they need so that they can successfully return to work and helping others.”
The First Responders Program includes 20-plus hours of treatment and educational programming per week to address the unique needs of first responders and their families. The program, which is led by licensed clinicians and peer first responders, includes clinical therapy sessions to address treatment concerns and non-clinical activities and educational seminars, including private First Responder-only 12-Step meetings.
In order to maintain privacy and confidentiality, first responders are provided with separate living quarters and are only roomed with other first responders in the program. They also have separate therapy, social, classroom and exercise space.
“First responders have unique barriers to entering and remaining in treatment. In a normal treatment program, there is always the possibility that they could encounter another patient that they have previously helped or even incarcerated,” said Steve Wicke, CEO of Recovery Centers of American at Devon. “Our First Responders Program provides the men and women on the front lines with a safe place and a sense of dignity as they navigate their journey to recovery.”
The program also offers Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), a short-term psycho-therapeutic treatment that aims to alleviate stress brought on by traumatic memories.
“Our brain doesn’t always process trauma effectively. People can experience dreams reliving that trauma or encounter something in their regular day that triggers a memory,” explains Clinical Director Chris Willson. “This can lead to unhealthy coping that includes drugs or alcohol as a way to suppress the experience.”
EMDR allows patients to process their trauma rationally, relieving their distress, reformulating negative beliefs and reducing physiological arousal. Patients can participate in EMDR therapy up to four times in their 28-day stay, a frequency that is unique to Devon.
At the conclusion of the program, RCA First Responder staff works with each patient and their employer to assist them with returning to duty. Staff also connects them with outside 12-Step meetings and networks created specifically for first responders.