As we all know, addiction can hit people across every state and in every different line of work. Even acclaimed heroes like first responders can fall victim to a dependency, especially as the opioid epidemic continues to ravage the U.S. Well in a very positive and inspirational move, the International Association of Firefighters (aka IAFF) have decided to take a stand and help protect their own. To support those in the field who are struggling, a special firefighter recovery center has opened up on the east coast.
This unique facility welcomes fire men and women from across the country and has beds for 60 clients at a time. Services offered include substance abuse treatment, mental illness counseling and alumni programs to help those in recovery.
Sadly, this facility actually serves a very practical purpose. Over the past several years, there has been a sharp increase in suicides, opioid dependencies and depression among the firefighter sect. It is believed that the trauma of the job can often cause emotional stress, leading to these issues.
Ray Maione is vice president of member services for the United Phoenix Firefighters Union. He spoke to TheFix.com about the importance of this new facility and how beneficial a sanctuary like this can be for his brothers and sisters in uniform.
“We’re problem solvers, I mean we run into burning buildings when they’re on fire, so people think, and we think, we’re invincible,” he explained. “And sometimes it just builds up. When a firefighter reaches out I know they’ve already exhausted every option they have and they’re in crisis.”
As he mentioned, a lot of pride goes along with this job and there is often hesitation to make addictions public. At this particular treatment center, anonymity is a top priority and there is a special camaraderie among patients and counselors.
The facility itself is also a top notch location for those battling a dependency. Located in a tranquil setting among the trees of Maryland, it includes a fully equipped gym, a pool, a basketball court and even has the layout of a typical firehouse.
The IAFF made sure a lot of care and attention went into the design, which Maione believes will make a major difference.
“It’s really a state-of-the-art facility for our membership,” he added. “To see it come to fruition is really pretty impressive; a lot of work went into this.”