It is estimated that up to 25% of licensed professionals—physicians, attorneys, and law enforcement officials—have addictions significant enough to impair their ability to practice effectively and safely. And yet most don’t seek treatment. However, Scott H. Silverman, CEO of Confidential Recovery, shares the key to overcoming barriers that prevent most first responders from seeking help.
Jul 11, 2015 /prREACH/ -- It is the estimated that up to 25% of licensed professionals—physicians, attorneys, and law enforcement officials—have addictions significant enough to impair their ability to practice effectively and safely. And yet most don’t seek treatment.
According to Scott H. Silverman, the Chief Executive Officer of San Diego-based Confidential Recovery, an intensive substance abuse recovery program for first responders, doctors, and lawyers, “The barriers to treatment range from fear of job loss to shame and humiliation. In addition, each barrier has a ‘back story’ that is unique to each type of first responder, i.e., a law enforcement officer’s fear originates from a different place than an attorney’s fear. A law enforcement officer’s fear may revolve around having their gun taken away, which means they are unable to perform their job. A doctor’s fear may revolve around losing their license. Integrating “real world” experiences with medical research helps to generate the trust needed to overcome these barriers.”
Silverman’s approach is to recognize each person’s unique needs—high stress occupations that are publicly visible—and offer a discreet, highly confidential treatment program to address challenges head on.
“Each demographic, whether physicians, nurses, dentist, attorney, law enforcement, or firefighter has special concerns that need to be taken into consideration before they seek treatment. As providers, it’s our responsibility to learn how to approach and engage each demographic, and learn which treatment modalities work for first responders and why,” explains Silverman. “Most specifically is the need to honor the role that ‘confidential’ plays in the mix.”
Many first responders have anxiety about attending a program where they may encounter individuals whom they have provided services or incarcerated. They also fear being judged as weak by their family and peers.
“Showing weakness will compromise their ‘macho’ image,’” says Silverman, who recently spoke at the Innovations in Behavioral Healthcare Conference in Nashville, “so they have strong compulsion to be ‘tough’ and ‘deal with it on their own.’”
Silverman is no stranger to addiction, a former addict now thirty years in recovery, he has turned his life around through determination and a love for his family. He writes about his journey in Tell Me No, I Dare You! which has been highly touted by Ken Blanchard, co author of The One-Minute Manager. Blanchard says. “This account of how one determined man has helped countless people transform from victims into productive members of society will touch the hearts of many.”
Robert Waggener, CEO of Foundations Recovery Network which was founded in 1995 to provide treatment to individuals with a dual diagnosis of substance addiction and mental health disorders, says, “Scott infuses humor with practical insights in dealing with a very complex population. His real-life experience in widely varied settings give Scott many unique perspectives in reaching out and treating the first responder population.”
He says that Silverman’s approach to recovery is different from many other other programs. “Twenty-four hour access to outpatient services is incredibly unique, allowing for shift work employees to have convenient access to treatment day or night,” he says.
This access is particularly important to first responders and other people in the public eye who might ordinarily shy away from seeking treatment. “There are unique issues first responders face related to shame/guilt for being those charged with public safety, yet they struggle with their own personal safety due to substance use disorders and mental illnesses. This dynamic is particularly challenging when coupled with fears (rational or not) of being in treatment with people they’ve attempted to intervene upon,” says Waggoner whose organization hosts ,conferences for mental health providers in San Diego and Palm Beach each year. “This population is particularly vulnerable to this dynamic when also complicated with punitive or abusive responses from supervisors who may create a tone or culture of ‘asking for help shows weakness and/or means one is incapable of excellence.”
Silverman exemplifies the life he wants those he serves to lead. He was recognized for his contributions to the community as a CNN Hero of the Week. He is also a member of numerous service and civic organizations. As the Founder and former Executive Director of Second Chance for eighteen years, Silverman helped individuals with multiple barriers to success break the cycle of substance abuse, unemployment, poverty, and homelessness.
He believes the key to helping those who serve the communities in a number of front-line roles is: “One must understand the vocabulary of that group and learn how to develop relationships with trusted sources within that group.”