Welcome to Fortitude

Substance Use & Mental Health Treatment for First Responders

Join fellow first responders in a specialty track designed to resolve substance use disorder and co-occurring trauma and behavioral health issues so you can get back to work, serving your community and saving lives.

What We Do

What Fortitude Can Help With

A bad call as a first responder is often traumatic. When these dangerous encounters add up over a career, they can become overwhelming. It’s okay to seek help. The FORTITUDE program can help first responders coping with:

Substance use and addiction

Problematic use, misuse or dependence on alcohol, opioids, stimulants and other substances

Co-occurring mental health conditions

Depression or suicidal thoughts, injury, burnout, anxiety, trauma, stress or grief

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and post-traumatic stress injury

Intrusive memories, flashbacks and nightmares

Our Program

Who Fortitude Is For

The FORTITUDE program welcomes anyone working in public safety (active or retired) who struggles with substance abuse or co-occurring mental health issues.

Law enforcement

Fire service members

military veterans icon

Military Veterans

Correctional officers

Paramedics and EMTs

Emergency room personnel

Are you a veteran?

Talk to one of our Recovery Advocates who is also a veteran. They know what you’ve been through and can talk you through our veteran specific program.


Our Mission

Why We Created Fortitude

Due to the nature of their work, first responders are at a higher risk than civilians of struggling with behavioral health issues like PTSD, anxiety, depression and substance abuse. The FORTITUDE program is a specialty track at The Recovery Village™ Columbus and a part of Advanced Recovery Systems’ treatment facilities. We’ve treated over 1,800 first responders using evidence-based, trauma-informed care that addresses their unique experiences and struggles. 

Having identified a significant need for culturally competent treatment providers for first responders, we developed the FORTITUDE program to provide high-quality, specialized programming to those in need.

First Responder Mental Health Statistics

  • 20% of firefighters and 21% of paramedics meet criteria for PTSD during their career, compared to only up to 5% of the general population.
  • 71% of firefighters report trouble sleeping, 65% have unwanted memories, and 19% have thoughts of suicide.
  • On average, firefighters reported drinking alcohol ten days per month, or about half of their off-duty days.


  • On average, approximately 15% of officers in the U.S. experience PTSD symptoms.
  • A study in 2010 found the rate of suicide among police officers was four times the rate for firefighters, which is already higher than the general population.
  • Over one-third of urban police officers report a binge drinking episode at some time during the past month.
  • In a recent study, 8% of male police officers and 16% of female police officers reported adverse consequences from alcohol use, and 7.8% met criteria for lifetime alcohol abuse or dependence.



Our Program

Years of experience treating these professionals have made us industry experts on trauma-informed care for first responders. The FORTITUDE specialty track supports healing through:

First responder-only group therapy

Therapists who run these groups are specially trained in CPT for PTSD therapeutic interventions. CPT for PTSD groups is designed to process and normalize reactions to trauma and identify and replace dysfunctional thoughts.

EMDR treatment for eligible clients

EMDR helps people who have experienced trauma and all forms of negative events. This therapy alleviates mental pain and emotional recession, which can also lead to better outcomes for a substance use disorder.

A full continuum of care

The FORTITUDE track synergizes with medical detox, residential, partial hospitalization and intensive outpatient programs to tailor each patient’s care to their unique needs.

Family therapy

Weekly family therapy sessions address the roles family members play in addiction and PTSD and equip families with tools to support their first responder and find healing for themselves.

Experienced staff

Therapists in the FORTITUDE program are licensed mental health professionals trained in clinical interventions for first responders. Our curriculum is informed by years of experience working with this community to understand how they think, feel and work.

Vetted aftercare network

Our national database of therapists and aftercare resources are personally vetted so first responders can continue getting qualified, specialized care after treatment.

Want to know more

FAQs About Fortitude

Individual and family therapy sessions in the FORTITUDE program are first responder-specific, as well as some group therapy sessions. Mealtimes, recreational therapies like yoga, free time and activities held outside the facility are co-mingled with civilians.

The length of stay varies from client to client based on their recovery needs, level of treatment, progress and many other factors. However, the average length of stay for most residential clients is 35 days.

Yes, drug and alcohol detox is offered onsite and is the first step in recovery for most clients.

Currently, the FORTITUDE program accepts clients for substance use disorder and any co-occurring mental health conditions, but not for mental health needs alone.

We make every effort possible to place first responders with another first responder in their room. However, this cannot be guaranteed, per state regulations on level of care housing requirements. Each residential room has two beds.

Many insurance companies cover some or all of substance abuse treatment costs, including treatment in the FORTITUDE program. Our admissions team can help you verify what’s covered in your insurance and navigate the insurance process. 

It can. Our admissions department and outreach team have experience navigating over 100 different worker’s compensation cases for first responder clients and look forward to the opportunity to help you navigate this process.