From putting their lives on the line to frequent exposure to traumatic situations, first responders often have a higher level of stress than the general public. This places them at a great risk for alcohol and drug addiction. For the past three years, American Addiction Centers has led the charge to address their unique needs through its specialized, research-based program, First Responder Lifeline. The program, which helps first responders achieve life-long recovery, recently hit a milestone with 500 first responders served. First responders include dispatchers, veterans, military personnel, law enforcement, firefighters, correctional officers, and emergency medical personnel.
“Due to heightened security concerns across the country and throughout the world, addiction has become a growing problem with first responders,” said Michael Blackburn, Senior Vice President of Business Development, First Responder Lifeline. “As first responders who have faced addiction ourselves, we understand the struggle. Nothing is more important to us than to help these first responders find hope and healing.”
A unique feature of American Addiction Centers’ program is the proprietary curriculum developed by police psychologists, therapists, and a team of current and former first responders to ensure the content is based on real-life experiences and clinically appropriate. These same first responders also run the program and include:
- Michael Blackburn, retired Rhode Island Firefighter, Battalion Chief, and a Certified Employee Assistance Professional.
- Steve Miranda, retired Sergeant with the Department of Corrections with 22 years of service and a Certified Employee Assistance Professional.
- Mike Healy, Fire Chief with Central Nyack Fire Department and retired Clinical Director of NYC Transit TWU Assistance Program.
- James Morrison, retired Chicago Cop with 26 years of service. He also spent 10 years in the Employee Assistance Program providing substance abuse and mental health services to nearly 10,000 officers and their family members.
- Sonny Silva, retired Sergeant, Massachusetts Department of Corrections with 32 years of service. He also spent the last five years with the Employee Assistance Service Unit.
This team is supported by American Addiction Centers’ national team of treatment consultants who have also undergone first responder training.
“Our goal is to create a supportive environment centered around the first responder culture,” said Steve Miranda, National Director of Business Development, American Addiction Centers. “We also have dedicated helplines where they can speak with someone from their line of service, just one more way we create a more personalized treatment experience. Our support also continues well beyond treatment with our alumni program.”
The First Responder Lifeline program is offered at five American Addiction Centers’ facilities, including Greenhouse Treatment Center, Dallas, TX; Sunrise House Treatment Center, Sussex County, NJ; Desert Hope Treatment Center, Las Vegas, NV; Recovery First West Palm, Fort Lauderdale, FL; and Clinical Services of Rhode Island, Greenville/Portsmouth/ South Kingstown, RI.
American Addiction Centers plans to add the First Responder Lifeline program to additional facilities in the near future and to continue establishing partnerships with local and national first responders’ groups to ensure more people have access to the program. The National Volunteer Firefighter Council, Fraternal Order of Police, and the International Conference of Police Chaplains are among the groups already connected to the program.
“Their service to their communities is invaluable,” said Michael Cartwright, CEO. “We consider it an honor to serve those who are also in the business of saving lives.”
To learn about the program, call one of the following dedicated lines: Police/Corrections 888.972.2704, Fire/EMS 888.731.FIRE (3473) or Veterans/Military (888) 902- VETS (8387) or visit americanaddictioncenters.org to learn more about the treatment facilities.
About American Addiction Centers
American Addiction Centers (NYSE: AAC) is a leading provider of inpatient and outpatient substance abuse treatment services. We treat clients who are struggling with drug addiction, alcohol addiction, and co-occurring mental/behavioral health issues. We currently operate substance abuse treatment facilities located throughout the United States. These facilities are focused on delivering effective clinical care and treatment solutions. For more information, follow us on Twitter @AAC_Tweet.