The level of potential stress and trauma associated with a career in public safety is, to many, too much to comprehend. To cope with the pressure, tragedy, and suffering they often face, many of these dedicated professionals regrettably turn to drugs and alcohol. Over the last ten years, these professionals have had the highest rates of substance abuse, family dysfunction, depression, and suicide. Due to the unique circumstances of their job responsibilities, it can be difficult to open up to others, causing many to manage their stress by self-medicating. Behavioral Health of the Palm Beaches has created a first responder rehab program in Florida that addresses the unique needs of first responders battling drug and alcohol abuse. Our first responders addiction treatment program treats all patients with the dignity and respect they deserve for their sacrifice and selflessness.
What Is a First Responder?
A first responder is an individual trained to provide initial medical assistance and emergency care to individuals who have been injured or are experiencing a medical crisis. First responders are typically the first healthcare providers to arrive at the scene of an accident, disaster, or medical emergency, hence the name.
The primary role of a first responder is to assess the situation, provide basic life support, stabilize the individual’s condition, and prepare the individual to be transported to a healthcare facility, if necessary.
Different types of first responders include:
- Emergency dispatchers
- Emergency medical technicians (EMTs)
- Flight paramedics and nurses
- Industrial or workplace first responders
- Military medics
- Police officers
- Search and rescue teams
First responders’ level of training and scope of practice may vary, but they are all equipped to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), control bleeding, immobilize fractures, and administer basic first aid. The role of first responders in the healthcare system cannot be overstated, as their rapid response and immediate interventions save lives and minimize the severity of injuries in emergencies.
Addiction in First Responders
First responders are usually the first on the scene of an emergency to face challenging, dangerous, and draining situations. They’re also the first to reach out to disaster survivors and provide emotional and physical support. These duties, although essential for sustaining public health and safety, are strenuous and stressful to first responders.
For many, the trauma they’re exposed to can have lasting effects, leading to problems like mental illness and subsequent substance abuse. Below are some staggering first responders’ addiction statistics:
- Career firefighters reported higher levels of problematic alcohol use and PTSD as compared to volunteer firefighters, while volunteers reported higher levels of depression and suicide attempts and ideations.1
- 50% of male firefighters reported recent (past month) heavy or binge alcohol drinking, while 9% reported driving while intoxicated.1
- 5.1% of female firefighters account for the total number of firefighters who suffer from alcoholism.1
- According to one study targeting female firefighters, 39.5% reported binge drinking as compared to 12% to 15% of the females in the general population. 4.3% of female firefighters reported driving while under the influence of alcohol.1
- In a separate study investigating alcoholism in police officers following Hurricane Katrina, the average number of alcoholic drinks increased from 2 to 7 drinks per day.1
Protecting the population’s health is a vital part of preserving national security and the continuity of critical national functions. However, emergency response providers often experience a broad range of behavioral health problems, such as mental illness and addiction, related to their occupations. Because these individuals face unique challenges, individualized first responder addiction treatment must be made available to offer support.
What Our First Responder Rehab Offers
The addiction treatment for first responders offered at our Lake Worth drug rehab is led by a veteran public safety professional with almost thirty years of experience. Each factor of this program is staffed with experienced and qualified professionals in their respective fields.
For example, rehab for police officers is aided by actual active and retired police officers who work alongside our addiction specialists. We understand first responders need separate work from personal life, which is why we ensure that all treatment offered to clients in our program is confidential, like our other services.
Upon admission to our rehab for first responders, clients will undergo a clinical assessment, during which our healthcare professionals will ask about symptoms, family history of substance use, and other factors that may influence the course and nature of treatment. Based on the results of this assessment, our team can build out an individualized care plan. Below is more on the levels of care we offer to first responders at our Banyan Lake Worth rehab.
Our first responder rehab offers addiction treatment on various levels of care, including residential, intensive outpatient, and partial hospitalization treatment. Each of these levels is designed for patients with varying needs.
- Residential Treatment: Individuals with severe substance use disorders who have either attempted treatment before, require medical care, or have not been successful in outpatient programming are likely to be placed in our residential program. This program offers housing for the duration of care and 24-hour support to ensure clients receive safe and effective services.
- Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP): IOP is a level of addiction treatment designed to provide therapy, support, and education to those struggling with addiction while allowing them to maintain some level of daily functioning, such as work or family responsibilities. Clients receiving this form of treatment will participate in therapy sessions during the day without having to stay at our facility.
- Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP): PHP is another level of addiction care designed to provide intensive therapy, medical supervision, and support while allowing individuals to return home or to a supportive living environment in the evenings. While similar to IOP, PHP is similar to residential care, as it requires clients to undergo longer hours of therapy sessions than IOP participants.
Mental Health Care
In addition to addiction treatment, we also offer first responder mental health services at our BHOPB detox center. Our experts treat mental health disorders and problems, including:
- Anger-related issues
- Bipolar disorder
- Trauma disorders like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Co-occurring disorders
Dual diagnoses, or co-occurring disorders, are common among first responders who turn to drugs and alcohol to cope with mental health problems. Therefore, we do not limit the services we offer to our clients. Rather, we devise a treatment plan that addresses each individual’s needs to ensure they receive well-rounded care.
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Due to the importance of their position and limitations in their time off, our staff also provides regular reports of treatment throughout the process to keep patients’ employers aware of their progress. We also provide testimony and documentation at disciplinary and criminal hearings to expedite patients’ return to their careers.
Behavioral Health of the Palm Beaches has successfully treated numerous first responders from across the United States. Contact us today for more information about our first responder rehab or other types of addiction treatment for professionals we offer at our Florida facility.
- SAMHSA – Disaster Technical Assistance Center Supplemental Research Bulletin First Responders: Behavioral Health Concerns, Emergency Response, and Trauma