According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), there are links between first responders and an increased risk of substance use, like heavy drinking, during disasters or public health relief efforts.
At Vertava Health of Massachusetts, we’re working to implement specialized programming geared towards the unique needs of the first responders community.
How We Specialize Programming For First Responders
Although we do not yet have a separate program designed for first responders, we expect to expand our current evidence-based programs into a specialized track for those who play a vital role in preserving the critical functions of our society.
To respond to the overwhelming needs of first responders during COVID-19, we personalize each patient’s treatment plan based on their individual situation. At Vertava Health of Massachusetts, we provide an array of evidence-based services that are customized to improve treatment outcomes.
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Integrated Therapeutic Approaches
To meet the needs of various patients, including first responders, we offer an integrated therapeutic approach to addiction treatment. This means we incorporate a variety of evidence-based therapies that adapt to the unique mental health needs of all our patients.
Seeking Safety is a therapeutic program that was initially designed for women suffering from substance abuse, trauma, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). At Vertava Health of Massachusetts, we use the Seeking Safety model to address addiction, trauma, and PTSD in first responders.
At Vertava Health of Massachusetts, we understand that first responders may have different preferences for how they wish to address addiction and mental health. SMART Recovery is a support group program similar to Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), but is rooted in science rather than spirituality.
SMART Recovery is one tool that can motivate first responders to:
- abstain from use
- cope with urges
- manage thoughts and behaviors
- find balance between the stress of their job and after-hours satisfaction
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
With cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), patients learn to identify and change problematic behaviors related to substance use and other issues that co-occur with addiction. CBT can be effective for first responders because a central element of this therapy is developing coping strategies to enhance the patient’s self-control.
With the challenging situations faced by first responders daily, as well as the increased stress caused by COVID-19, CBT allows patients to recognize cravings and better identify situations that could increase the risk of alcohol or drug use.
Dialectical Behavioral Therapy
Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) was initially designed for treating suicidal patients with borderline personality disorder (BPD). Nowadays, DBT is used to treat a variety of conditions, including substance abuse and addiction.
With this therapeutic approach, “dialectics” refers to integrating the seemingly opposite feelings of acceptance and change. DBT allows a patient to accept who they are while acknowledging that things must change by focusing on:
- mindfulness or being aware in the moment
- tolerating pain in difficult situations, not changing it
- how to protect yourself and say no without damaging relationships
- how to protect yourself from painful emotions and reduce vulnerability
This clinical approach motivates patients to make positive behavioral changes that improve their overall health. Motivational interviewing helps patients commit to making a change in their lives by examining their history of substance use and developing a close relationship with their therapist.
Individualized Treatment Plans
Many of our evidence-based therapies at Vertava Health of Massachusetts are likely to be integrated or combined into an individualized treatment plan that works best for each patient.
By tailoring our available therapies to a first responder’s unique situation, we can create a personalized treatment plan that addresses the stress of their profession and helps them develop coping skills for when they return to duty.
Program Features at Vertava Health of Massachusetts
While we’re still developing a specialized treatment track for first responders, our current program gives all our patients the tools they need to better manage stress and live a life in balance.
In addition to our evidence-based therapies, features of our program include:
- groups focused around trauma and coping skills
- licensed therapists trained to manage underlying mental health issues that co-occur with substance use
- chef-prepared nutritious meals and snacks and an on-site Dietitian
- a peaceful countryside setting with over 500 acres in the Berkshire Mountains
- comfortable rooms with a private bathroom
- amenities that include tennis, hiking, yoga, disc golf, a ropes course, fitness center, basketball, art, and more
A Big Thank You to First Responders
Vertava Health of Massachusetts and Vertava Healthes thanks all our first responders for their selfless service to our communities. We wish to join them in their courage and sense of duty by helping them overcome their personal battle with substance use disorder.
To learn more about how we address the unique needs faced by first responders, please contact Vertava Health of Massachusetts today.