First Responders and the Addiction Crisis: Treating the Healers

The addiction pandemic has placed a historic burden on our Commonwealth’s first responders (i.e. police, emergency medical service and fire personnel). The effects of their rescue work on the front line have exposed first responders to both cumulative and critical incident stress. Addiction disorders among first responders continue to rise and represent the psychological toll of helping. This training explores first responders as a unique cultural group, discusses the prevalence of addictive disorders, explores preventative and counseling interventional strategies that can be used to heal our state’s most important helpers.



  • Describe the environmental factors that lead to both cumulative and critical incident stress in first responders which lead to addiction.
  • Describe the cultural factors present among first responders.
  • Identify the triggers for addiction development among first responders and ways to mitigate them.
  • Describe evidence-based prevention and intervention strategies for clinical application in work with first responders.
  • Apply an early first responder risk assessment model for addiction and PTSD.
Best Practices
Mental Health (MH)
Substance Used Disorder (SUD)


Scott Tracy, LPC, CAADC, ACS

Dr. Scott Tracy, LPC. CAADC, ACS  is an Associate Professor of Counseling at Kutztown University and coordinator of the clinical mental health and addiction counseling programs. Dr. Tracy is a retired paramedic who specializes and conducts research in first responder mental health.  Dr. Tracy also maintains a private counseling practice in Fayette County and is the owner of Wellness Recovery, a state licensed inpatient withdraw management and rehabilitation facility.


Shelby Brightbill. MA, LPC, CAADC
Shannon Vaught, MA, CAADC