Why First Responders Often Need Help with Addiction?

First responders are often the first to arrive at challenging or dangerous scenes to provide emotional and physical support. While this can be a fulfilling job, it can also be emotionally draining to continuously witness difficult and traumatic events. Additionally, public distrust in law enforcement is at an all-time high in America, which can increase work-related stress.

Many first responders, including police officers, emergency medical personnel, military service members, corrections officers, paramedics, firefighters and other law enforcement members, struggle with mental health issues. Without proper treatment, this can often lead to unhealthy coping mechanisms, such as substance abuse.

Ranch Creek Recovery is proud to work with the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) and Los Angeles Fire Department (LAFD) to provide mental health support and addiction treatment for first responders. We are also partnered with the insurance providers that serve the LAPD and LAFD, so their personnel can receive our services with minimal out-of-pocket costs. Our team is familiar with the specific requirements of these insurance providers and can work with them directly to ensure a smooth and stress-free admission process.

At Ranch Creek Recovery, we understand the unique challenges first responders face, and our substance abuse and mental health services take those into account. If you’re a first responder struggling with alcohol or drug abuse, learn more about our substance abuse programs and how they can help sustain long-term recovery.

“Ranch Creek Recovery saved my life. I came into RCR lost and broken, trying to get back on track in my life. As a result of this great team of counselors/psychologists, I’ve done more than restore my life; I’ve reached new goals and gained so many life skills that go far beyond just being sober. I love and appreciate all the staff. Know that if you have a willing heart to change, you’re in the right place.”

– Joshua

Get Help with Insurance Coverage for Drug & Alcohol Rehab

Our alcohol rehab program accepts several national insurance plans and is in-network with most carriers including HealthNet, MHN, Anthem BlueCross, Aetna, Cigna as well as others. To verify if your insurance is accepted and check your out-of-pocket costs call Ranch Creek Recovery at (877) 997-8931.

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Addiction and Mental Health Issues Unique to First Responders

First responders witness a wide range of traumatic events and life-threatening situations, such as natural disasters, mass shootings and wildfires. These events often happen in their own communities, which can increase stress levels. Although these situations affect everyone differently, they can cause certain mental health conditions that severely impact a person’s ability to function in daily life.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reports that 30% of first responders struggle with behavioral health concerns, such as depression or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), compared to 20% of the general population. First responders, particularly police officers and firefighters, are also at an increased risk of struggling with alcohol abuse.

First responders are often lauded as being heroes and encouraged to power through any challenge that comes their way. Although the work they do for their communities is extremely important, they aren’t immune to mental illness or alcohol and drug addiction.

This harmful stigma prevents many people from getting the mental health, substance abuse or trauma treatment they need, which is why it’s crucial for addiction treatment providers to offer services tailored specifically to the challenges first responders encounter.

Addiction Treatment for First Responders

What Happens During Substance Abuse Treatment?

Substance abuse treatment is designed to help you get to the root cause of a drug or alcohol addiction by understanding what underlying mental health issues led to substance use in the first place. Drug or alcohol abuse and mental illness often go hand in hand. People may turn to substances to self-medicate mental health symptoms. Common substances include:

Many treatment centers offer dual diagnosis treatment, which addresses any co-occurring disorders, such as depression, anxiety or PTSD, that an individual is struggling with. Patients receive a personalized treatment plan outlining what therapies, medications or other types of treatment are best suited for their specific conditions. Family involvement is encouraged to provide first responders with ongoing support throughout treatment.

The goal is to help individuals better understand the relationship between their substance use and mental health and teach them healthier coping strategies for successful addiction recovery. Return-to-work planning is also provided if desired to address any anxiety about returning to duty and help communicate with your supervisors or an employee assistance program.

Types of Drug and Alcohol Abuse Treatment

Because of the wide range of stressful situations first responders deal with, there’s no one-size-fits-all first responder treatment. There are several options patients can choose from to receive the proper individualized care for their unique needs to sustain lasting recovery.


Medical detox helps rid the body of harmful substances and prepare individuals to enter alcohol or drug abuse treatment. This is often the first step in the addiction recovery process. During detox, individuals are monitored by medical professionals to ensure their safety and help relieve withdrawal symptoms.

Length of detox depends on the substance taken and how long you’ve been using it. People also typically participate in individual or family counseling to work through cravings and any negative thoughts or feelings they experience through the process.

Residential Treatment

Some first responders may choose to enter a residential treatment program to address their addictions and mental illnesses. During inpatient treatment, patients stay at the facility 24/7 to receive treatment. Upon arrival, a team of health care professionals conducts an initial assessment to determine the severity of your drug or alcohol use, whether you have a co-occurring disorder and the appropriate length of stay.

Residential treatment can last for 30, 60 or 90 days. Each individual receives a treatment plan that usually includes individual and group therapy sessions with fellow first responders to address alcohol or drug use and gain valuable peer support. Dual diagnosis treatment may also be prescribed for first responders with co-occurring mental health issues.

Outpatient Treatment

For those who can’t commit to a full-time inpatient program, outpatient treatment is an alternative option with more flexible scheduling. Outpatient rehab meets three times per week for a few hours each day. It offers similar services to inpatient treatment, such as individual therapy and group therapy, to help patients address their addiction or mental health concerns and build a peer support network.

Although the 12-step approach is commonly used to treat drug and alcohol abuse, we provide a more personalized method with individualized treatment plans tailored to fit your needs. A combination of evidence-based and holistic therapies is provided to help first responders gain valuable coping strategies to break their addiction and prevent relapse.

First Responders undergoing Addiction Treatment

Types of Therapies We Offer

There are various mental health issues first responders, and law enforcement members may struggle with from work-related stress and trauma. We offer several types of evidence-based and holistic therapies to address these issues and teach you healthier coping skills to move forward.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a type of talk therapy that focuses on altering how a person behaves by modifying their thought patterns. It’s proven effective in treating several conditions first responders struggle with, including depression, anxiety, PTSD and substance use disorders.

Many first responders deal with stressful or traumatic situations. CBT can help interpret how these events affect their thoughts or feelings and develop skills to reduce negative beliefs or behaviors.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy

Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is a type of CBT designed specifically for individuals exhibiting self-harming behaviors, including self-cutting and suicidal thoughts or attempts. A high number of law enforcement officials commit or attempt suicide each year. DBT provides several techniques to help first responders find meaning in their lives and make better choices, including:

  • Life skills training
  • Individual therapy sessions
  • Phone Coaching
  • Team consultation
  • Homework assignments to incorporate new skills into everyday life

Holistic Therapies

Holistic treatment addresses substance abuse disorders in the mind, body and spirit by using various experiential therapies and healing activities. Its purpose is to help patients develop a deep sense of self-awareness and self-acceptance, improve physical fitness and grow as a person. There are several types of holistic therapies first responders can choose to engage in:

  • Fitness rehab. Fitness therapy encourages individuals to exercise regularly to improve physical wellness, boost brain function and prevent relapse. Qualified physical therapists are available to guide you through fitness classes, personal training sessions or physical therapy exercises.
  • Yoga. As the oldest and most popular form of experiential therapy, yoga is effective in helping individuals overcome addiction. It provides many physical and emotional benefits to help patients relieve stress, gain more self-awareness and control negative emotions.
  • Guided meditation. Mindfulness meditation can help those recovering from an addiction find inner peace and build confidence. It uses imagery, music and sounds of nature to relieve stress and tension so you can relax and focus on more positive thoughts or feelings.
  • Amino acid therapy. During the withdrawal phase, amino acid therapy can be used to manage mood swings by improving the natural function and production of neurotransmitters. Amino acid therapy isn’t a cure for drug and alcohol abuse, but it can be an effective addition to your treatment plan.

Holistic therapies consider the whole person and their unique needs to promote a healthy lifestyle. Because of this individualized approach, these therapies can provide first responders with comprehensive addiction recovery.

Seek Substance Abuse Treatment at Ranch Creek Recovery

If you’re a first responder struggling with addiction, Ranch Creek Recovery is here to help. We work with various law enforcement members and first responders, including those with the LAPD and LAFD, and have the resources needed to meet your specific substance abuse or mental health needs.

To learn more about our services, call us today at (877) 775-9225. We accept most insurances and can help you take the first step to overcoming your addiction for good.