Helping The Helpers

Treatment program targets needs of recovering law enforcement, firefighters, emergency services and corrections officers. By Terry Marvin

It’s easy to understand why public safety workers are among some of the country’s highest populations with substance abuse, divorce, family dysfunction, depression and suicide. Dealing with the suffering and tragedy of others is as challenging as it is rewarding, which is why so many of the men and women who work as law enforcement officers, firefighters, emergency services and corrections officers find themselves turning to alcohol and drugs as a means of coping.

It’s also the reason why it is vital for treatment centers to offer a program designed for this population — a program that marries state-of-the-art addiction treatment with the understanding of these clients’ unique needs and struggles.

Remember, these are people who solve problems; they’re not supposed to have problems. For this reason the stigma of addiction is an enormous obstacle. It’s also the reason why a specialized program where they can be supported by public safety colleagues who understand the challenges is invaluable — including being introduced to weekly AA and NA meetings devoted exclusively to law enforcement, firefighters, emergency services and corrections officers. In this way, recovery becomes a point of empowerment through which they build a strong recovery program and powerful and lasting alliances.

However, the recovery process cannot end here. It is essential to work with all facets of that client’s work and home life to ensure an optimal treatment outcome. For that reason our Family Program is overseen by a veteran law enforcement worker who has firsthand experience with substance abuse and its effect on the family, and who provides support and assistance throughout the entire treatment process. Following treatment, an intensive aftercare program and follow up network help ensure stable reintegration into the client’s workplace and home life.

Terry Marvin is Program Director for The Recovery Team in North Palm Beach, FL where he brings a diverse background of strong leadership and management, which includes more than 30 years’ experience in law enforcement. He is a certified police officer in the State of Florida and has completed his education hours toward his CAP certification. www.recoveryteam.org