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First Responders Addiction Treatment Programs

What is it?

First responders addiction treatment programs

Emergency responders come to our rescue every day. They’re the police officers, fire fighters, paramedics and ER doctors who heroically pull people from crushed cars, put out raging wildfires and provide life-saving emergency medical care.

First responders are constantly exposed to stressful, dangerous, and sometimes life-threatening situations. They see the best of humanity, but also the worst, including mass shootings, domestic violence and the effects of the opioid crisis.

The work of first responders is essential, but the stress can take a toll on their physical and mental health.


First responders and PTSD

An estimated 30% of first responders develop behavioral health conditions such as PTSD or depression. On-the-job stressors that can trigger these conditions include:

  • Line-of-duty trauma: Witnessing or directly experiencing a near-death event or seeing death of a civilian in the line of duty can trigger PTSD.
  • Line-of-duty death: Seeing a colleague die in the line of duty can have a profound effect on a first responder, especially if they attempted to rescue, revive or treat their colleague.
  • Post-shooting trauma in law enforcement: When a law enforcement officer shoots a civilian in the line of duty, stress after the incident is often compounded by the investigation, lengthy questioning, and reports related to the incident.


Tragically, for some first responders, the stress and complex emotions they experience from their work become unbearable. Between 125 and 300 police officers commit suicide every year, and firefighters have higher rates of suicide ideation and higher suicide rates than the public.


The stigma first responders face

These statistics underscore how vital it is for first responders to receive adequate mental health care. Yet, the culture surrounding these professions often creates a barrier to such care. First responders are expected to be strong, stoic — even invincible.

Fear of being stigmatized, demoted, or of losing their job leads many first responders to stay quiet about what they’re experiencing.

Thankfully, the culture is changing. Today, many police, fire and EMT departments have mental health professionals on staff. Slowly but steadily these professions are encouraging a culture of openness about mental health problems among first responders.


First responders and addiction

Those who don’t have a robust support system or are afraid to ask for help may turn to drugs or alcohol to cope with the stress.

If you’re a first responder (or are close to one) who frequently uses alcohol or drugs to wind down or sleep, this is a sign of a substance use disorder, especially if you also drink alone or in non-social situations, feel agitated or irritable, or abuse prescription drugs.

If drug or alcohol use is negatively impacting your relationships or you’ve lost a job or relationship because of substance use, it’s time to get help.


Specialized addiction treatment for first responders

BriteLife Recovery has developed a specialized addiction treatment program for first responders. Our program emphasizes addressing work-related trauma. Within the safe space of our addiction treatment center, you’ll be able to talk freely and openly about your feelings and experiences among a group of your peers.

Throughout your stay with us, you’ll work with our compassionate clinical staff members and counselors, who will tailor a treatment plan to your needs. You’ll have access to:

  • Mental health experts trained to treat PTSD, depression, anxiety, and other mental health conditions
  • Individual and group counseling sessions that deal with issues surrounding trauma, opioid use and other issues; you’ll also have access to gender-specific groups
  • Community-based activities to help you build strength, resilience, and coping strategies


If you or someone you know is an emergency responder suffering with a drug or alcohol addiction, please reach out to our support team at 201.464.4040. Our addiction specialists are available to provide confidential help 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

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