Skip to Main Content


Rosecrance working with those who are on the front lines

Rosecrance staff have noted an uptick in first responders turning to alcohol and other substances to help process emotions.

TV shows often portray first responders as fearless, decisive, and calm. Whether chasing criminals in the streets or saving a family from a burning building, these public servants are featured for their heroism.

What viewers don’t see, however, are the effects of careers in which every day brings life-or-death situations. Last year saw a record number of drug overdose deaths plus hundreds of thousands of COVID-19 fatalities. The effects are taking a toll on doctors, nurses, and uniformed service personnel who have been at their best when others are facing their worst moments.

“First responders and medical staff are used to rising to the occasion, no matter how scared they are,” said Rosecrance Harrison Campus Medical Director Raymond Garcia, M.D. “Now, though, you have even more exposure to trauma, and it really is taking a toll on people who have some of the most important responsibilities.”

This is leading to a number of consequences: burnout, post-traumatic stress disorder, strained family relationships, and a reliance on unhealthy coping skills. Rosecrance staff have noted an uptick in first responders turning to alcohol and other substances to help process emotions.

People who face repeated trauma need supportive, safe places to help detach from the adrenaline rush and hypervigilance that makes them so good at high-stress professions. A set “cooling off” period after a shift may enable a worker to fully be present for family and friends. In addition, peer support groups are gaining popularity as places for first responders to connect with others who are experiencing similar stress.

Rosecrance’s adult programs are designed with these needs in mind. Many staff have worked in front-line professions or have loved ones in them. This is particularly true of the Rosecrance Florian Program, which is dedicated to being a safe place in which uniformed service personnel can find healing.

“The greatest needs for us are hope and connection,” said Rosecrance Florian Program Director Dan DeGryse. “Our staff understands what clients are going that helps create a support network to process what they have faced.”

In January, the On Your Radar podcast will explore the challenges of working on the front lines during the COVID-19 pandemic. Episodes will feature Rosecrance experts in conversation with WGN Radio personality John Williams.

Get Help Now (866) 330-8729