1st Responder Treatment
by Mark Lamplugh, Jr
Founder and Marketing Director
Recently, Shannon Pennington, North American Fire Fighter Veteran Network (NAFFVN) and a The Sweeney Alliance board member, traveled to Florida to meet with Mark Lamplugh, founder and marketing director of 1st Responder Treatment. Shannon not only viewed the facility, but also participated in discussions with key healthcare clinicians and caregivers.
Shannon Pennington and Peggy Sweeney, president of The Sweeney Alliance strongly endorse 1st Responder Treatment as an exemplary standard of care facility for first responder veterans in recovery for drug and/or alcohol addictions in combination with post trauma stress intervention.
1st Responder Treatment is the premier resource for first responders who are dealing with mental, emotional, or substance abuse issues. We have a network of the top treatment programs in the country. First responders deserve the best care available, and our mission is to help them get the help they need.
Fire fighters, police, paramedics, military and other emergency personnel face a level of stress that few outside of the field can understand. In addition to everyday stress, they deal with traumatic events, natural disasters and terrorism as a regular part of their field deployment. This constant burden creates enormous levels of physical, emotional and mental anxiety.
First responders sometimes need help in dealing with the pressure. Yet those who devote their lives to helping others are often the most reluctant to ask for help themselves. Very often it is family, friends, or co-workers who initially seek help for first responders. 1st Responder Treatment is devoted to providing the kind of help that these heroes deserve. From counseling services to addiction treatment, 1st Responder Treatment helps first responders take back their lives. Health, happiness and the joy of living can be theirs.
Many first responders don’t ask for help because they fear it may hurt their career. All of our calls are completely confidential, and privacy is safeguarded. The overall health, recovery and well-being of our clients – including their careers – is our #1 concern. We want to get you back on the job. All of our efforts are directed to that goal.
Due to the nature of their jobs, first responders are at a high risk of mental health and addiction issues. Our staff conducts a thorough initial assessment for each client to determine the best individualized course of treatment. You have a large number of options in the care that you receive.
PTSD and Addiction
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is typically thought of as a condition that affects soldiers returning from combat situations, but it can actually affect nearly anyone, at any age, who has suffered through a traumatic event. PTSD and addiction do share a likely connection, as one may be more likely to increase the risk of the other. It is important to note, however, that not everyone who suffers from PTSD will develop an addiction.
Addiction can occur in many forms, including drugs and alcohol, gambling, shopping, and risky sexual behaviors. Addictions can also be physical, in which the body craves the substance, or psychological, in which the imagined reward is mental. The connection between PTSD and addiction usually involves use or alcohol or narcotics, especially opiates and other narcotic pain relievers, although gambling problems are also prevalent in this group.
Narcotic pain relievers are one of the most common elements of PTSD and addiction, especially in military members returning from combat or those who have suffered a serious physical injury during their trauma. These types of pain relievers are extremely addictive by nature, and when used for too long, it can be difficult for patients to stop taking them. While prescription pain relievers are beneficial in the beginning to help an injured patient get past the physical pain, eventually they may become a crutch to help alleviate emotional suffering. In some cases, when prescription pain relievers are no longer available, sufferers may move on the illegal street drugs, such as heroin.
Alcohol is another major substance connected to PTSD and addiction, affecting as many as 75 percent of sufferers. It is especially common in women who have gone through a traumatic experience, such as sexual abuse or assault. Drinking to the point of intoxication can actually worsen the symptoms of PTSD, as alcohol is a strong depressant. It also lowers inhibitions, which may increase the risk of the user becoming violent or engaging in other risky behaviors.
Treating patients with both PTSD and addiction can be challenging, because both problems need to be addressed at the same time. Patients may need to enter a rehab facility to overcome the physical part of their addiction, but the psychological issues of both PTSD and addiction can take years to overcome. Some may need to learn alternate ways of coping with stress while also getting to the root cause of the disorder. Talk therapy with a qualified psychologist or therapist is often recommended.
The 1st Responder Treatment Program at Transformations Treatment Center is a specialized treatment program, successful in helping first responders battle and win their addiction problems. This program is also designed to treat co-occurring diagnoses including Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), anxiety disorders and depression. The first responder may choose a 12-step Traditional Program or a 12-step Christian Program. We offer services that are tailored to meet the needs of police officers, fire fighters, paramedics, ER personnel, other first responders, and combat veterans. If Transformations is unable to place a first responder at our facilities, we will find them the best treatment available.
Services for First Responders
EMDR/Trauma Therapy – Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) was developed in 1987. It is the most thoroughly researched method of treatment for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Acute Traumatic Stress Disorder (trauma within the past 3 months). Studies of individuals suffering from combat, accidents, rape, natural disasters etc. have found that more than 85% of those being treated with EMDR no longer suffer from the disorder. EMDR is an effective treatment modality to rapidly process trauma from the past and to transform it into something useful in the present. Many people show dramatic results after just one session, while others may need several.
Who can benefit from EMDR treatment?
Police officers, firefighters, paramedics, ER personnel and other first-responders traumatized by the violent or gruesome images and the stressful nature of their work.
Combat veterans from Iraq, Afghanistan, Vietnam, Korean and World Wars who still experience anxiety, flashbacks, nightmares, and other PTSD symptoms from the violent or gruesome images and events they were subjected to both in and out of battle situations.
EMDR is recognized by the Department of Veteran Affairs and the Department of Defense, and it is the number one therapy recommended by the US Government for troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan that are suffering from trauma.
According to an excerpt from The North County Times on 5-23-12: “ We’ve been at war for more than 10 years, and for a lot of our Marines, all they know is combat,” said Master Sgt. Adam Muncy, who works in outreach efforts with Camp Pendleton’s 1st Marine Division. “As we draw down, we have to be aware of the problems they face.” America’s military has seen a dramatic rise in suicides and mental health problems stemming from repeated combat deployments and exposure to carnage in Iraq and Afghanistan. Close to one-third of all combat troops develop some form of post-traumatic stress, according to researchers. Substance abuse (including alcohol) was widely discussed as an indicator of problems.
Individual Therapy – Individual therapy sessions deal with a myriad of issues which have influenced the first responder’s development and behaviors over the years. This personalized therapy takes place a minimum of one time per week but may take place several times per week, depending on the needs of the client.
Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) – developed by Marsha Linehan, Ph.D., ABPP, at the University of Washington, is a comprehensive cognitive-behavioral treatment that has been found especially effective in psychiatric hospitalization, treatment dropout, substance abuse, anger, and interpersonal difficulties.
Neurofeedback – Evidence based Neurofeedback (BrainPaint) uses real-time displays of electroencephalography or functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to illustrate brain activity, often with a goal of controlling central nervous system activity. Sensors are placed on the scalp to measure activity, with measurements displayed using video or sound. Healing of fears, phobias, trauma, addiction, ADD and ADHD is promoted.
Holistic nutrition with dietician, natural supplement protocol and chiropractic services – The 1st Responder Program at Transformations provides safe, all natural supplements that significantly reduce and/or eliminate the use of prescription drugs wherever possible and reduce the symptoms of withdrawal. This provides for a healthier, faster, more complete recovery and allows the body and brain to function again, in a healthy normal way that nature intended. Having a registered dietician/nutritionist on staff is another offering that separates our program from others and allows us to help the first responder manage their dietary intake and keep them eating the healthiest meals to manage their new life and career.
Health club/private trainer – We help all first responders maintain their physical fitness by giving them the opportunity to work with a personal trainer to keep them as healthy and in shape as possible and to deal with the rigorous work they may need to do when they complete treatment.
Beach time and scheduled pool times – We provide our lakefront pool to all clients at scheduled times during the week and beach time on the weekends.
Non-Institutional Setting – We want the first responder who attends our program to be as comfortable as possible during their treatment. Each will have their own private bedroom with queen sized bed and private bathroom, and each will have access to cable television and long distance in their two bedroom apartment while at the program.
©2013-1stResponder.All Rights Reserved.
About the Author: Mark Lamplugh, Jr is a former Captain from Lower Chichester Fire Company and a 4th generation Firefighter. Mark grew up in the firehouse and his father is still the president. Mark started 1st Responder Treatment essentially to help 1st Responders who needed help. It has grown into a full inpatient program at the Transformations Treatment Center. We do many referrals from counseling to trainings. Mark is dedicated to changing the stigma that comes with mental health and substance abuse in the Fire Service.
You may contact Mark at (610) 675-8461 or (561) 894-7012 or Fax (561) 894-7016 or by EMAIL