First Responder Rehab Programs in Las Vegas Nevada

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First responders face multiple stressors and challenging situations that can take a tremendous emotional and physical toll. Sometimes, this can lead to substance abuse as a way of coping with stress, burnout, and secondary traumatic stress.1 Substance abuse can become worse if left untreated and can be a serious problem especially when coupled with co-occurring mental health disorders like first responder PTSD.2 Many first responders can benefit from tailored first responder addiction treatment in Nevada that takes into account their unique needs and experiences.

First responders are trained to arrive first and provide assistance at the scene of emergencies. This includes professionals such as:3, 4

  • Emergency medical service professionals (EMTs).
  • Police officers.
  • Search and rescue personnel.
  • Firefighters.
  • 911 operators.
  • Healthcare professionals employed in emergency settings.

If you or a loved one if a first responder seeking substance abuse treatment in the Las Vegas area, there are steps you can take to ease the recovery process. Knowing what first responder treatment is, how to find it, and how to cover the cost of  Las Vegas rehab can help you find recovery.

Substance Use in First Responders

Many first responders must deal with ongoing stress in their working lives. Facing situations that involve death, grief, injury, pain, or loss, and being directly exposed to a variety of threats to your personal safety can affect one’s mental health negatively.3 Additionally, dealing with long hours of work, frequent shifts, poor sleep, physical hardships, and other negative experiences can have a detrimental impact on first responder mental health, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).3

Substance use can be an unhealthy way that some first responders cope with stress. Some might self-medicate certain mental health symptoms or use drugs or alcohol as a way of coping with feelings of stress, burnout, compassion fatigue (meaning stress that can occur as a result of working with someone who has been traumatized), and trauma.2, 5 Some first responders may also engage in avoidance behaviors, such as missing work, or experience increased conflict in the workplace or at home if they don’t have healthy coping skills and ways of managing excessive levels of stress. 6

First Responders and Co-Occurring Disorders

Many first responders have an increased risk of experiencing mental health disorders.7 Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) tends to be more common amongst first responders than amongst other groups.7According to one study, 1 in 4 first responders met diagnostic criteria for PTSD.7 The rapid pace and the nature of their work is a key factor that can impact the mental health of first responders.3

PTSD can develop after witnessing, being involved in, or learning about a traumatic event, such as actual or threatened death, serious injury, violence, or performing job-related duties like collecting human remains.2 You can even develop PTSD from hearing that trauma happened to a close family member, coworker, or friend.2

Many first responders don’t have enough time to recover after traumatic events, which can lead not only to PTSD, but can also lead to other co-occurring mental health conditions and symptoms like depression, stress, and suicidal ideation.3  These conditions may be closely linked with substance abuse in first responders; one study of firefighters and emergency medical technicians/paramedics points out that:6

  • 14% of study participants reported moderate to severe and severe depressive symptoms.
  • 28% reported moderate to severe and severe anxiety symptoms.
  • 26% reported significant symptoms of PTSD.
  • 31% reported harmful or hazardous alcohol use and dependence.
  • 93% reported significant sleep disturbances.
  • 34% indicated high risk for suicide.

First responder PTSD symptoms can include:2

  • Intrusive, recurring, or involuntary memories.
  • Dissociative reactions that make you feel as though you are re-experiencing the event (flashbacks).
  • Avoiding talking or thinking about the traumatic event.
  • Avoiding experiencing emotions related to the event.
  • Prolonged feelings of distress when exposed to internal cues (such as memories) or external cues (such as people, places, or things) that remind you of the event.
  • Changes in cognition and mood. This can include an inability to remember events related to the trauma, having exaggerated negative beliefs (such as “the world is a horrible place”), blaming yourself for the event, negative emotions like fear, guilt, or shame, or feeling detached from others.
  • Hyperarousal or hypervigilance. This can include symptoms like being verbally or physically overreactive to others, an exaggerated startle response, concentration problems, or sleep disturbances.

To receive a PTSD diagnosis, these symptoms must last at least one month and cause significant distress and impairment in your ability to function at work, at home, or in other areas.6

PTSD among first responders can be especially problematic when combined with addiction.6 PTSD has been closely linked to substance use; among people with PTSD, the lifetime prevalence of substance use disorders (SUDs) is believed to be between 36-52%.2

Stigma First Responders Face

Stigma can be a particular issue for first responders when it comes to seeking help. The culture of first responders and even society as a whole may adhere to the idea of first responders being strong and stoic, but this could cause many first responders to deny the problem or avoid asking for help.8 Societal viewpoints on mental illness, in general, may reflect the misperception that people are using their condition as an excuse to get benefits, or that they’re not really as sick as they claim to be.8 This could lead to feelings of shame, guilt, inadequacy, or weakness for having a problem or for being unable to manage stress and other symptoms.8

Some first responders might worry about confidentiality issues or possible negative effects on their careers if they choose to seek help.8 Other barriers to seeking first responder treatment can include a lack of time, limited access to treatment providers, the cost of treatment, a lack of trust, and fear of job repercussions.3

Specialized First Responder Rehab Programs in Las Vegas, Nevada

Specialized first responder substance abuse treatment programs can promote positive outcomes and help treat first responder trauma and addiction, as well as any other co-occurring disorders you may be struggling with. First responders face unique challenges such as long or irregular work hours, physical demands, or a lack of trust that can make it difficult for them to reach out for help. They may think treatment is inaccessible, but tailored treatment programs for first responders are designed to address your unique needs and concerns.6

First responder addiction treatment programs in Las Vegas are tailored to meet the unique needs of first responders who are struggling with substance abuse. Many first responders treatment programs place an emphasis peer support and fostering a sense of community; studies have shown that these can lead to benefits for first responders in treatment.3, 6

If you have a co-occurring disorder, it’s important to receive integrated treatment. This is designed to address the addiction as well as the mental health condition. Treating both is important for recovery success, as each condition can affect the other.2

Some of the therapies and treatments you may receive in Las Vegas might include:2, 6, 9

  • Dialectical behavior therapy-prolonged exposure. This can help treat the trauma and the addiction. It teaches emotional regulation skills, stress management skills, and other tools to help you cope.
  • Individual trauma-focused therapy. You work with a therapist on a one-on-one basis to process the trauma and work on different issues related to mental health and addiction.
  • Behavioral therapies, which can include cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), contingency management, 12-step facilitation therapy, or motivational interviewing. These therapies are designed to help you stop using substances and help you make positive changes to thoughts and behaviors.
  • Depending on the specific problem, you may receive pharmacotherapy, such as antidepressants, as a way of managing symptoms.

Finding First Responder Rehab Programs in Las Vegas, Nevada

If you’re interested in finding a first responder addiction treatment program in Las Vegas, you might first start with a visit to your doctor, who can conduct an evaluation to help determine the appropriate treatment setting for your needs. You can use SAMHSA’s website to search rehabs, or call the SAMHSA helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

You can also reach out to American Addiction Centers helpline any time of day or night. We have several employees trained in veterans and first responders’ relations. We can help connect you with a first responder treatment program that meets your needs. We operate Desert Hope, a treatment program in Las Vegas, NV that offers specialized treatment for first responders and veterans. It’s never too late to seek help—please call to speak to an admissions navigator today about your rehab options.