Addiction Treatment for First Responders | Helping the Helpers

Addiction treatment for first responders is a vital part of our country’s responsibility to help our helpers. When we think about large trauma events like 9/11 or active shooter scenarios, everyone recognizes the mental and emotional challenges put on our first responders. Nevertheless, every day, there are thousands of smaller events all across the country that can lead to PTSD or overwhelming stress loads for our community helpers.

First Responders Face Daily Critical Incidents

Imagine for a minute, you just sat down for dinner, when a call comes. You leave the food on the table and head out the door to an accident scene. There are minors involved. A DPS officer is the first on the scene. As firefighters arrive he informs them two teenage occupants of one vehicle are deceased. They tell him where tarps are and he covers the bodies as the firefighters begin triage for three more. A small child is the most critical. Her mother is injured but the greater concern is her emotional distress for her child. Yet, a third victim has relatively minor injuries but witnesses say was involved in a race with another car. EMS arrives on the scene and preps the child for transport. The DPS officer begins his investigation of a possible homicide.

Every first responder in this scenario is faced with overwhelmingly challenging realities of life, death, and violence. While all first responders are trained for these situations, their emotional and mental responses long-term will be as varied as their past experience, home life, and family. Each will be offered a Critical Incident Stress Debriefing but first responders are often reticent to show the impact of the incident. They each fear they might be perceived as too distraught to continue to perform the job.

Over the last two years, our communities have faced increasing stress. During this time, first responders have come face to face with covid patients and dramatic rises in traffic fatalities. They have seen the consequences of low cancer screening rates and been called to respond to a rise in family violence including child abuse.

Our first responders have come face-to-face with the difficulties of a worldwide pandemic as well as the resulting economic and social challenges. The increases in so many areas have served to make some of our strongest our most vulnerable.

The Need for Access and Confidentiality

As a result of this, it is no surprise that more first responders than ever are facing long-term PTSD or seeking to “take the edge off” with alcohol or drugs. Studies have shown, having PTSD alone doubles a person’s risk of alcohol and drug misuse. By the time first responders recognize there is a problem, these heroes usually fear being relieved of duty or losing their jobs if they seek help.

First responders signed up for their duty knowing they would face trauma. They do so because they care about our communities and they want to help. So how do we respond when those who are helpers are in need of help?

The answer should be clear. We remove roadblocks to treatment while providing confidentiality in the treatment of their disease. At the same time, we work hard to reduce the stigma attached to first responders seeking help.

Addiction Treatment for First Responders

At the Morton Center, we are passionate about helping the helpers. Our outpatient program is confidential and easily accessible. If you or a loved one are a first responder and struggling with addiction the first step to healing can be as simple as a phone call. Our treatment programs are available on an outpatient basis and through telehealth support online.

The Morton Center counselors are here to support you. Our confidential hotline is available with resources and counselors who want to help you determine the best next steps for you or your loved one.

The Morton Center counselors are here to support you. Our confidential hotline is available with resources and counselors who want to help you determine the best next steps for you or your loved one.

Call us at (502) 451-1221 to get help today.

How You Can Help the Helpers

If you are reading and want to know how you can help our first responders and others facing addiction join our Heroes for Hope and be a difference-maker. When you give right now, you’ll be part of a vision to change the lives of hundreds of families for generations to come! Please be as generous as you can to provide a life-changing recovery from addiction. 


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