What It’s Like to Be a First Responder in Quarantine

Our first responders currently have the added stress and trauma of COVID 19. With that comes the unfortunate risk and exposure leading to many of our first responders being quarantined. Many of our first responders are not only quarantined but contract COVID 19 from those they encounter.

Sasha Lefler’s Story

Sasha Lefler, a paramedic of Summersville, WV became ill suddenly with a sore throat, fatigue, and fever. When her strep and flu came back negative, they tested her for COVID 19. Sasha was informed she must quarantine while awaiting results. Sasha struggled with whether or not to quarantine at home because she was terrified of exposing her family if she had COVID. After speaking to several professionals, she made the difficult decision to quarantine and isolate herself at home in a bedroom away from everyone. Testing in WV was very slow to deliver results. Sasha spent many days isolated in her room, hearing her husband and children on the other side of the walls. At one point, her children and husband ate dinner outside her bedroom window so they could talk to each other while they ate. Many days she sat in her room researching COVID and the best treatments so she could be prepared. For 11 days she listened to her husband and children on the other side of the door from her. She wanted so desperately to open the door and be part of the family dynamics on the other side. Eleven days is a lot of days and hours for the mind to race back and forth. It took eleven days for Sasha to get a negative result. The first thing she did was to leave that room and hug her family.

John Feal’s Story

John Feal, of the Fealgood Foundation, tested positive for COVID 19 in March. The Fealgood Foundation is the driving force that brought insurance coverage to those first responders of 9/11. John spends his days helping the first responders of 9/11 and fighting for their rights. This past March, John found himself so sick he was unable to help anyone. John began to feel sick with what he thought was a stomach virus. As soon as he thought he was over that, he noticed he had a sore throat which quickly escalated to a cough and chest pain. Every day seemed to bring more pain and worsening symptoms. He fought it off as long as he could before getting tested for COVID 19. Within 36 hours of testing, it was confirmed, he had COVID 19. When he thought he could not possibly get any worse, he did. He quarantined himself at home alone. John tells us that for a period of four days, he was so sick he has no recollection of anything. He feared he might die at home alone in quarantine. He remembered the 11 weeks he spent in the hospital after 9/11, and he absolutely did not want to end up back in the hospital or even worse, put on a ventilator. He was fighting pneumonia and COVID 19. John says that every part of his body hurt from his hair to his toes. John said he wasn’t ready to die. He has way too much work left to do. But, in the back of his mind, he was worried he might die because COVID 19 was ravaging his body. For three weeks, he fought COVID 19. During that time, he also could not taste anything, not even the cough drops he was using by the dozens. He had no taste at all. It wasn’t until day 17 or 18 that he felt better. John fought COVID 19 with every ounce of strength in him.

Thankfully, John had a lot of family and friends checking on him during those 18 days although he was too sick to remember some of those 18 days. Quarantining alone is the only way to prevent the spread to family and friends, so John did just that. John stayed in quarantine until he was medically released and deemed not contagious. John didn’t mention it to us in our interview, but we know as soon as John was released from quarantine, he began to donate plasma to help others overcome COVID 19. John is a humble man so we didn’t expect him to tell us about that, but we wanted to mention it because it is who John is, a helper to those in need. John wasted no time in getting back to work with the Fealgood Foundation pouring food and supplies into NYC personally delivering them to healthcare workers and first responders. We are so thankful that John survived COVID 19 and continues his work supporting those out there on the front lines.

In our interview with John Feal, he reminded us that not only does COVID 19 endanger our first responders and health care workers, but so many of those first responders who survived 9/11 have compromised immune systems. John tells us because of their compromised immune systems, many retired NY first responders of 9/11 have been lost to COVD 19. Our first responder and health care workers across the nation both retired and active are fighting in this COVID 19 pandemic.

Get Help Now

The Safe Call Now hotline, the National Crisis Hotline for first responders and healthcare workers, has received a significantly higher volume of calls from first responders in the New York and Seattle areas which have been hit hard with COVID 19. We are thankful our first responders are utilizing the hotline. We understand that currently, our first responders and healthcare workers have the added trauma of COVID 19 along with all the destruction COVID 19 brings with it. We encourage our first responders and health care workers who are struggling to call the hotline. Another first responder will answer your call to talk to you or to give you resources if you need them.

If you, someone you love or someone you know needs help, call:

Safe Call Now:  24 Hour Confidential Hotline:  206-459-3020

Or call Shannon Clairemont at 661-405-8014 or Vanessa Stapleton at 304-651-3008

A Day in the Life of a First Responder in Addiction Treatment

Addiction is one of the most pressing issues facing the public health system today. Some people are at a greater risk of developing addiction and mental health disorders than others, such as individuals who are exposed to traumatic events. This includes first responders; the first people to show up at the scene of a natural disaster, terrorist attack, or serious crime. 

Most people cannot fathom what first responders see on a daily basis, therefore it’s common for first responders to not know where to turn for help. As a result, they end up coping in unhealthy ways. This is one of the biggest reasons why first responders end up developing mental health and substance abuse disorders at a higher rate than the average population. For this reason, there are specific addiction treatment centers that focus on the treatment of first responders.

What Does Addiction Treatment Look Like for First Responders?

If someone has been enrolled in addiction treatment for a first responder, the day is going to follow a typical framework. At a residential inpatient facility, the morning will involve a healthy breakfast which can include a mix of meat, grains, and fruit. Then early meetings are going to take place. Meditation, yoga, or other wellness activities are common during this time. After, group meetings are going to take place where first responders can learn from the experiences of others. There will usually be a counselor or therapist leading the group. They help someone learn about the treatment process, addiction, and recovery. 

After lunch, there are usually one on one therapy sessions. These sessions are going to be tailored to meet the needs of the individual. For example, someone will participate in cognitive behavioral therapy, an effective method used in the treatment of addiction. This treatment therapy focuses on identifying people’s individual responses to triggers. This will also help prevent relapses from taking place. 

Others may participate in specialized sessions. These can be tailored to help someone deal with grief or stress management. More group therapy is also offered at this time of the day or family therapy, helping someone rebuild his or her relationships.

During free time, first responders have the option to enroll in alternative types of therapy. Art therapy, music therapy, dance therapy, exercise therapies, and equine therapy, are all great options for first responders.

Dealing with Mental Health Issues

One of the major issues that accompanies addiction in first responders is the development of mental health disorders. Two of the most common mental health disorders that first responders develop are:

PTSD: Post-traumatic stress disorder, also known as PTSD, is one of the most common mental health disorders that develops among first responders. Symptoms include flashbacks, emotional lability, crying fits, trouble sleeping, and anger issues. People suffering from PTSD encounter triggers that transport them back to the scene of the event. PTSD is best addressed by trained professionals who know how to handle these delicate issues.

Depression: Depression is another mental health disorder that develops among first responders. People with depression often have trouble sleeping, feel guilty about past events, experience changes in appetite, and have issues finding enjoyment in activities that previously put a smile on their faces. Depression can be addressed by a well-rounded treatment approach that involves counseling, therapy, and medication. Of course, it’s up to the discretion of trained professionals about what medicine and therapy should be prescribed. 

How To Find Addiction Treatment for First Responders

It’s critical for anyone who is suffering from mental health or addiction disorders to find treatment. There are a number of ways first responders can find treatment. First, it’s always a good idea to talk to friends and family members. They may know people who have sought out treatment in the past. The internet is also a great tool to research different facilities. The best way to see if a treatment center is right for you is by researching and calling the facility to ask questions.

We Can Help You!

At Quest 2 Recovery, we’re a substance abuse and addiction treatment center that provides specialized treatment for first responders. We are located in the beautiful area of Lancaster, CA. We blend proven therapies with an innovative approach. If you would like to learn more about how we can help you, please contact us today. We would be honored to help you with your healthcare needs and we’d like to thank you for your service. 

Veterans & Substance Abuse: A Growing Problem

Substance abuse is one of the biggest problems in the United States and directly affects the healthcare system. Historically, it’s difficult for people to get the help they need and access mental health resources. As time evolves, more resources are becoming available and they are helping destigmatize mental illness and substance abuse. 

One population that is particularly prone to developing mental health and substance abuse are veterans. We should be honoring the people who serve our country and put their lives on the line every day and make treatment accessible

Statistics on Substance Abuse and Addiction Among Veterans

There is a growing concern surrounding substance abuse and addiction as it relates to veterans. Right now there are more than 2 million people serving in the armed forces and more than 23 million veterans in general. Many of these individuals are facing significant challenges as it relates to drug and alcohol abuse. A study produced following a survey that took place between 2004 and 2006 showed between five and 10 percent of veterans might meet the criteria for a substance abuse disorder. For young adults specifically, this rate was as high as one in four. 

The Reasons Why Veterans Are At Risk

Why are veterans at such a high risk of developing substance abuse and addiction disorders? There are a few reasons to note.

Trauma

This is the biggest factor. Veterans are exposed to events on the battlefield that most people can barely fathom. As a result, they need to find ways to cope with what they see. A large number of veterans go on to develop mental health issues such as PTSD. Some people may not be able to cope with counseling and therapy. Others may not want to. Instead, veterans turn to drugs and alcohol to help them cope. This, in turn, leads to addiction.

Abuse

The rate of sexual assault in the army has come to light recently with alarming numbers. Veterans who are abused in the military are at risk of developing other mental health issues including PTSD and depression. In order to cope with the symptoms of these disorders, veterans may look to drugs and alcohol once again. This is a coping mechanism to help them deal with the trauma they have suffered.

Barriers to Treatment

Some veterans may find that there are major barriers to treatment. There is a shortage of access to mental health resources in the United States and veterans may also struggle to obtain prescription medications they need. This can leave veterans looking to drugs and alcohol for assistance once again.

Homelessness

Homelessness is a devastating epidemic amongst United States veterans. The vast majority of veterans who are homeless also have mental health disorders. It can be difficult for a veteran to find and maintain a job while battling mental health disorders. Without a job and health insurance, they will struggle to find health care providers who are willing to see them. This contributes to drug and alcohol abuse even further.

Drug Abuse and Addiction Among Active Members

There is an epidemic of drug and alcohol abuse in the military. Members serving often turn to prescription medications to help them cope with their experiences while on active duty. Some of these members even use prescription medications to self medicate chronic pain and PTSD. Many of these prescription medications end up getting abused because they are extremely addictive.

It is important for everyone, including veterans, to know that resources are available that can help people fight back against addiction. There is no shame in asking for help. With the guidance of trained professionals, everyone can beat addiction.

Rely on Quest 2 Recovery for Addiction Treatment

Anyone who is looking for addiction treatment including veterans should rely on Quest 2 Recovery in Lancaster, California. Our trained professionals will work with you to come up with a plan that suits your needs. We offer treatment plans that also specialize in dual diagnosis which is perfect for veterans battling PTSD and substance abuse. Contact us today to get more information and help. 

How to Find Substance Abuse Treatment as a First Responder

Battling addiction is always tough. It can be even more difficult if you are a first responder and your reputation and livelihood are on the line due to substance abuse. That’s why Quest 2 Recovery in Lancaster, CA, has devoted an entire program for first responders to heal along with peers going through the same issues.

Statistics indicate that first responders, such as firefighters and police officers, often turn to alcohol and drugs to self-medicate from PTSD and stress related to their jobs. According to a recent SAMHSA report, for example, heavy or binge drinking occurred among half male firefighters surveyed in the previous month. Of these, 9% admitted to driving under the influence of alcohol.

Who Are First Responders?

You may imagine that first responders consist of ambulance drivers and ER medical professionals combined with police officers, FEMA workers, and firefighters. However, there are many other careers that involve people to respond to emergency situations. If you or a loved one works as an air marshall, campus security officer, animal control officer, DEA agent, park rangers, Red Cross worker or serve in the military, then this label fits your job title.

First responders arrive first when a crisis occurs. This includes terror attacks, crimes, accidents, and natural disasters. They have the tough job of preventing the loss of life and harm to pets and property as fire rage, rivers flood and buildings crumble around them. Due to the extreme nature of the job, these workers suffer more trauma than most people do during the course of their workday. Therapists and others used to think that these people were resilient and able to leave the stress and strain at the doorstep when they got home. That turns out to be untrue.

Researchers are still struggling to understand how the constant stress of being a first responder impacts substance abuse disorders and alcohol addiction. Mental health disorders, such as depression, anxiety, and PTSD play their own roles and have to be addressed as part of any robust first responder treatment program. At Quest 2 Recovery, we provide a place for first responders to meet and discuss their addiction in a safe space. Participants learn to confront their addiction and pick up valuable coping skills that help them avoid a relapse.

First Responder Group Therapy

Clients who participate in first responder group therapy can open up and help their peers process their experiences. Everyone in the circle understands the stress that comes with knowing someone else’s life may depend on your actions. Some of the people you meet in group therapy sessions may include correctional officers, emergency medical professionals, law enforcement, firefighters and military veterans. Many people who attend this exclusive group therapy session gain confidence in their ability to discuss and face their challenges.

This is a critical component of your recovery, and it’s much easier to share your thoughts and feelings when you are with a group of people who are going through a similar experience. Within a group of peers, there’s no fear of judgment. This has been a barrier for first responders attending group sessions with others recovering from substance abuse. Group sessions are overseen a licensed therapist and conducted in a private setting.

First First Responder Addiction Treatment in Lancaster, CA

At Quest 2 Recovery, our substance abuse recovery program is open to first responders in the Lancaster, CA, area and beyond. Contact us today to take the first step in a life free of drugs and alcohol. We know that you face more stress and trauma than most people face in a lifetime, but there’s hope for a brighter future among a community of your peers. We have a residential detox and residential inpatient treatment options for substance abuse recovery.

How To Tell If You have A Drinking Problem As A Police Officer

Police officers play a very important role and are a critical piece of the puzzle of a community. They have a job that has to be filled within every modern society. Law enforcement officers help to keep the peace and protect citizens from danger. In most situations, police officers are also role models that many people, particularly young children, look up to and want to imitate. Because of this role and the pressure to be model citizens and the fact that everyone is always watching them, many law enforcement officers feel ashamed about a chemical dependency problem that they may have. This often leads to self-imposed isolation, lack of support, added stress and anxiety, the development of depression and other harmful symptoms of alcoholism that are worsened when one does not have a good support system.

How Common is Police Intoxication?

Research has shown that police alcoholism and drug abuse are much higher than many realize and can be as high or even higher in some areas than that of the general population. This alarming statistic is thought to be largely due to the stressful and at times traumatic life police officers and law enforcement endure day in and day out. Combined with the pressure from the community to never appear weak or to have a bad day and it can quickly become too much to handle without some way to deal with the stress. Unfortunately, many officers work in an environment where co-workers often rely on smoking, drinking, or drugs to deal with stress, so the temptation and peer pressure to start is very high as well.

How to Identify Alcoholism in a Police Officer

Identifying alcoholic behavior in a police officer can be difficult but it is the necessary first step to getting them the help and support they need to break the cycle. Here are some of the common warning signs that can indicate an officer is dealing with their own personal battle with alcoholism:

Self-imposed isolation

Many police officers begin drinking as a social opportunity and a way to relax and destress after a hard day on the streets. As the alcohol use continues and intensifies, they will often begin to drink outside of social events and may even hide in a room at home to drink alone and in private. Another warning sign of alcohols-induced isolation is a lack of interest in things they once loved- dropping out of social clubs, avoiding friends, not doing things they used to do, and avoiding family and friends. All of this is done so they can have more time to drink; they may even turn what social interactions they do have into an opportunity to or an excuse to drink.

Financial Problems

Another common sign of any alcoholic, including those in law enforcement, is having money issues. Most of the extra money that an alcoholic has will go towards buying alcohol. In some situations, they may even ignore other obligations or cut back on other spending in order to have more money to put to their drinking habit. Since most police officers are paid a decent wage, especially if they have been in the service for a number of years, if an officer is often saying they are short on money or as asking for money or for someone to cover their tab, this may be a sign of a hidden alcohol problem.

Mood Swings

Serious alcohol addiction will have a huge impact on the mood, personality, and behavior of the individual. When sober, the officer might become easily agitated, anxious, paranoid, judgmental, or depressed. Once they are able to drink again, they may suddenly shift moods and appear more energized, upbeat, and easy-going. However, some alcoholics have the opposite mood shift and get quiet, reserved, irritated, and annoyed when they are drinking. If you suspect someone is developing a problem with alcohol, keeping an eye on their moods will be one of the first ways you can start to notice that something is wrong.

Contact Quest 2 Recovery For Help

Quest 2 Recovery is a dual diagnosis, substance abuse program in Southern California that offers detoxification and residential inpatient levels of care. We specialize in chemical dependency recovery and have helped everyone from police and law enforcement officials to members of the general public and we can help you too!  Call today for more information and to schedule your consultation with our team.

Neurotherapy for Chemical Dependency in First Responders

First Responders are some of the most important people for those struggling with addiction. They are often the first point of contact for individuals with chemical dependency problems who are at the hardest points of their illness. The unfortunate truth is that First Responders can also develop these problems themselves.

Neurotherapy is a new technique for helping to treat addiction. It has proven useful for First Responders and makes an effective complement to other treatments.

First Responders and Substance Abuse

First Responders face life-threatening conditions and high-stress work environments. This exposure to stress can lead to higher rates of substance abuse amongst these workers.

Firefighters face dangerous work conditions. They respond to everything from potential threatening medical calls to burning buildings. In addition to those risks, firefighters also face medical side effects from their work such as burns and lung disease. All of this adds up to the sad fact that rates of binge drinking are higher amongst firefighters than the general population.

Paramedics and EMTs also have to navigate saving people’s lives while coping with some of the most demanding work conditions known in America today. Paramedics routinely work shifts longer than 12 hours and are often on-call for nights and doubles. During these working hours, they have to keep their focus sharp in order to help people with all kinds of medical conditions from routine accidents to life-threatening emergencies. The stress, long hours, and dangerous conditions lead to PTSD and anxiety being higher amongst paramedics than the general population. This can also lead to higher rates of substance abuse just to keep up.

Other first responders also face dangerous conditions similar to the two outlined here. No matter what the specific job is, all first responders have a high-stress environment to cope with.

What is Neurotherapy

This therapeutic technique is a non-invasive, medication-free technique that helps identify areas of the brain that might have become damaged or otherwise aren’t functioning at their best. This therapy has been used for ADHD, insomnia, and PTSD. It has also shown very promising results for people struggling with addiction.

Neurotherapy is based on the “brain disease” model of addiction. This medical model is embraced by the National Institute on Drug Abuse. This model correctly suggests that addiction is caused by changes to the brain and not by any moral failing. The idea that addiction is caused by moral weakness or lack of willpower is outdated and not very helpful for people in recovery.

How Neurotherapy can Help Treat Addiction

Neurotherapy uses state of the art brain mapping technology to identify the areas of the brain most damaged by addiction. While it may look like a machine from a science fiction movie, the technology behind this therapy is perfectly safe and totally noninvasive.

Once areas of the brain are identified, positive stimulus is given to those areas when the brain is in a calm state. This helps individuals struggling to recover from drug and alcohol abuse associate calm sensations with positive feedback which helps to break the cycle of addiction.

Neurotherapy is typically used in conjunction with other therapies such as classic 12 Step programs or more modern therapies such as SMART. This therapy helps return control back to the individual and helps them slowly repair areas of the brain that have been changed through the course of a substance abuse problem.

Get Help Today

Addiction can feel like it is unbeatable, but with help, you can overcome it. First Responders are on the frontlines helping people with addiction start their recoveries and help is available for them as well.

PTSD And Addiction In First Responders

First responders have a grueling job. They see things that most people may not ever even have nightmares about and many first responders do not have access to the therapy and the help that they need to be able to effectively deal with these horrible circumstances and the stresses they deal with each day.

First Responders and PTSD

PTSD, or post-traumatic stress disorder, is far more common in first responders than you might imagine. These brave men and women go headfirst into circumstances that most people would run from. They see people hurt, they see people dying, they see people that have lost their fight and they deal with the carnage that is left behind. As a result, PTSD is terribly common among first responders and is more likely to develop the longer a first responder is on the job and the more that they deal with.

On top of all the things they see, they also have a job that is high in stress which can have adverse effects on the overall health and mental state of our first responders. For some, drugs and alcohol are a welcome reprieve from the pain, suffering, and mental anguish that they deal with on a daily basis. To add insult to injury, many first responders also deal with depression and have no real means of being treated and of seeking therapy or other means of help for these disorders.

Treatment Options

The first step to treating addiction in anyone is to determine what the addiction is and to take the time to address it on a person by person basis. What might work for one person may not work for a first responder and vice versa making an individualistic approach important. Once you have established that there is a problem with substance abuse and that treatment is needed, it is important to find an approach that is right for each addict.

Depending on what type of first responder you are working with, you may need to talk to supervisors and other higher officials to determine just what type of treatment is needed so that the first responder can return to work should the want to. With PTSD, it is going to be necessary not only to treat the addiction to any substances that might be being used, but also to treat the PTSD, depression or any other mental diseases that the individual might be dealing with at the same time.

These first responders may want a private treatment that is not going to put them in the public eye, they may need special care that allows them to continue work when they are not in treatment, and they are going to need special handling. Being a first responder is difficult, being a first responder that is also dealing with drug and alcohol addiction is even harder.

Unique Approach

A treatment facility like Quest 2 Recovery offers unique treatment options that are tailored to the individual rather than to the masses. They create treatment plans that are both inpatient residential and those programs that allow the patients to go about their daily lives while still getting the treatment that they need.

They use therapy, detox, group support, exercise and more all in an effort to create a program that is going to work for each particular patient to provide the most success and the best rates of healing. It is the goal of recovery to allow patients to have the treatment that is going to work best for them and that is going to promote life long healing and recovery.

PTSD is not something that can be healed in one fail swoop. It is an ongoing battle and if the patient is continually exposed to the conditions and events that encourage and foster the PTSD it will only get worse. There are plenty of first responders that have gone down the path of substance abuse and many that have not been given an adequate chance to recover. Exclusive rehab options that take into account the type of work these people do each day, rehab that takes personality and disposition and more is going to be far more effective than a one size fits all rehab that does not really make a difference.

Specialized care is something that can help first responders to deal with their addiction and to actually get better. Addiction is not something that we have to deal with, if you or someone you love is addicted to alcohol, drugs or other substances and they are also dealing with PTSD, a specialized approach is going to make a big difference. With the right treatment, anyone can deal with addiction and become happy, healthy, and free of the burden of addiction and the pain it causes.