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In the United States, alcohol and substance use are on the rise, with more people seeking treatment for addiction each year. Although many don’t realize it, those with alcohol and substance use issues often face mental health challenges as well, from depression and anxiety to post traumatic stress disorder. Known as a dual diagnosis, first responders such as law enforcement, firefighters, EMTs, dispatch, corrections, and veterans are especially vulnerable to co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders, which can develop in response to the stressful conditions they endure on the job. Unsure where to turn for help or what their options are, symptoms often worsen as time goes on and begin to negatively impact their health, wellness, relationships, jobs, and more.

At First Responder Wellness, we know that living with a dual diagnosis is a frustrating experience and that despite a growing need for it, finding proper care isn’t always easy. To provide a place where first responders can take a step back from the stressors of everyday life and begin to heal, we offer specialized care for those struggling with mental health and substance use disorders. Our team of culturally competent clinicians, some of whom are also former first responders understands the challenges faced by those in public safety and are uniquely qualified to help them overcome their issues and develop the coping skills they’ll need to transition back into their personal and professional lives feeling happier and healthier than ever.

Understanding Mental Health Disorders

Historically, mental health disorders have been misunderstood. In the past, symptoms have been attributed to everything from demonic possession to an imbalance of bodily fluids, and while we’ve made great strides in our understanding of mental health, we still have a long way to go. We now know that mental health is linked to a variety of biological, psychological and environmental factors and is closely related to the balance of important neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin, but those who suffer from anxiety, depression or PTSD still encounter stigmas on a daily basis. These stigmas are often based on a lack of awareness or empathy and can lead to feelings of shame, guilt or embarrassment that prevent many from seeking the help they need. Left untreated, worsening mental health symptoms can make it difficult to cope with daily life and have been associated with higher rates of suicide and substance use.

At First Responder Wellness, we understand how important mental health is to one’s overall health and wellbeing, playing an essential role in every aspect of life, from productivity and relationship stability to the ability to cope with changes, adversity and more. We’re also aware of the consequences of improper treatment or a misdiagnosis, especially when symptoms are masked by substance use and difficult to identify. To ensure that individuals with a dual diagnosis receive the comprehensive care they need to take control of their symptoms and make meaningful progress toward lasting recovery, our treatment programs address both mental health and substance use issues together. By addressing the full scope of each individual’s physical, emotional and mental health needs, our goal to help each client confront their issues on a deeper level and achieve the life they’ve always envisioned for themselves.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment at First Responder Wellness

Due to the demands of the job, first responders are at a particularly high risk of developing a dual diagnosis, with rates of depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) that are five times higher the general population. Despite their reputation for helping others, the stigma of mental health and pressure to be tough or brave often makes it difficult to ask for help themselves, opting instead to push down their feelings. Over time, this can take its toll and lead to unhealthy coping habits, substance use problems, anger issues and more, drastically impacting their overall health, wellness and quality of life.

At First Responder Wellness, our goal is to change that. We offer specialized care for first responders that combines mental health and substance use treatment to address the underlying issues that have contributed to their symptoms and develop effective strategies for managing stressors, cravings and more. Some of the techniques we use include:

  • Individual and group therapy
  • Proven psychotherapies (CBT, EMDR, etc.)
  • Chemical dependency education
  • Holistic and experiential therapies
  • Integrated mental health care
  • Trauma services
  • Life skills development
  • 12-step support
  • Stress management
  • Reintegration process
  • Neurofeedback

Since no two clients are the same, our treatment plans are highly personal and address the unique needs of each individual. As clients discover how their mental health and substance use issues are related, our goal is to provide a supportive environment that emphasizes growth, balance and accountability to promote lasting change and a strong foundation for recovery.