December 3, 2019

River Oaks Treatment Center, a leading provider of substance use treatment in the Tampa area, has announced the addition of a treatment track dedicated to the specific needs of current and former first responders. First responders can include active military, veterans, emergency medical technicians, firefighters, police officers or any other profession that may involve exposure to trauma on the job.

“Providers of services that involve traumatic moments encounter scenarios that the general public may never experience,” said Christine Hernando, a licensed mental health counselor. “As a result, specialized treatment is in order to best lead the first responder to recovery.”

Hernando is the lead therapist for this treatment track. She is the wife of a retired U.S. Marine who sustained injuries and developed PTSD after two tours in Iraq. It was during the treatment for her husband’s mental and physical issues that Hernando was inspired to provide care not only for marines, but other first responders and their families.

“The initial hesitancy to speak up and speak out about mental health and substance use issues among first responders is a substantial hurdle to overcome,” said Hernando. “And even when they do decide to reach out for help, many times, they’re faced with a provider who does not understand the unique culture and background of this population and have difficulty relating to their stories and experiences. That is why this group exists – to give this population a chance to share and heal with others who ‘get it.’”

River Oaks’ first responders track has a number of groups and treatment methods that specifically addresses the challenges first responders face. Some of the therapy sessions can focus on managing stress, compassion fatigue, balancing work, family and health, increasing self-care and building a strong support system. Patients in this group will be treated by experts, including a board-certified psychiatrist, addictionologist, licensed therapists and a team of registered nurses.

“It was a privilege to create this track and provide treatment for our veterans and first responders that caters specifically to their needs,” said Jeff Turiczek, CEO of River Oaks Treatment Center. “Reaching out for help is a courageous choice, and we’re honored to provide an understanding space conducive to healing and recovery.”