Where there’s smoke, there’s fire.

It’s a common phrase with a simple literal and figurative meaning – if something looks wrong, then it probably is wrong.

But when it comes to substance abuse and alcohol addiction, the signs of a fellow Emergency Medical Service responder struggling aren’t always as easily seen. Or, perhaps concerning behavior is noticed, but dismissed as being nothing serious and just a “normal” way to relieve job-related stress.

Extreme stress, sleep deprivation, anxiety and depression that result from working long shifts in the EMS field is recognized as a problem impacting responders across the county. Researchers have found that exposure to repeated traumatic events in the field and the subsequent post-traumatic stress disorder many develop makes EMS professionals at especially high risk of alcohol or drug use. Specifically, prescription medications and alcohol are found to be common drugs of choice used to cope.

So, how does casually drinking or taking a pill to alleviate chronic pain turn to serious abuse? According to Eric Weinkoetz, Director of the Recovery Center at Manning Regional Healthcare Center, signs of this escalation are usually there, but many people look past them because they still equate old stereotypes of alcoholics or drug addicts as being homeless individuals living on the street.

“Recognizing the signs of addiction or substance abuse early can make the difference between successful recovery or lifelong struggle with addiction,” Weinkoetz said. “Many people believe if someone holds a job or appears to contribute to society that there is no way he or she could be an alcoholic or have a drug problem. But, unfortunately, alcoholism and drug abuse take many forms.”

Weinkoetz notes some warning signs include changes in sleep habits, stealing medications or forging prescriptions, taking higher dosages than prescribed, appearing over-stimulated or too sedated, drinking alone or in secrecy, and more.

“If you or someone you are concerned about has these or any other warning signs, we encourage you to contact the Recovery Center to undergo an evaluation,” said Weinkoetz. “These scientific evaluations are used as a tool to determine the extent of a person’s misuse and abuse of drugs or alcohol and assess the extent by which the substance abuse affects the person’s life.”

The Recovery Center at Manning Regional Healthcare Center is a 16-bed co-ed chemical dependency facility. Located in Manning, Iowa, 90-minutes from Des Moines, this state-of-the-art treatment facility offers unique accommodations and services.

For nearly four decades, it has adapted treatments to meet the most pressing or newly emergent addiction issues. From alcoholism, to the influx of meth to the abuse of prescription painkillers, Weinkoetz says the staff have consistently helped clients take their first step toward healthy, drug and alcohol-free lifestyles.

“We encourage integration into everyday life and support the therapeutic value of being connected to a rural community,” said Weinkoetz. “The Center’s serene setting on the outskirts of town is complemented by our close proximity to nature allowing for an escape from the distractions of everyday life. Utilizing this peaceful environment has been extremely beneficial for individuals who seek help.”

Admissions to the Recovery Center are made through a referral system. Referrals can come from medical providers, a hospital or treatment facility, or from the addicted individuals themselves. Potential clients or residents seeking admission must be medically and mentally stable and provide health insurance information to determine eligibility.

Furthermore, confidentiality is of the highest priority at the Recovery Center. Because it is a department of a hospital (Manning Regional Healthcare Center), all Recovery Center employees undergo strict HIPAA Privacy Rule training.

Weinkoetz says that keeping personal and treatment details of all residents private is not just a matter of morality – and maintaining employment – but it is essential in establishing trust between staff and individuals seeking treatment.

“Whether you’re a first-year EMT, decades-old veteran, or someone concerned about a loved one in the field, you are not alone,” said Weinkoetz. “We understand your struggles and have medically-trained professionals who will evaluate your needs and chart your path to recovery.”

To learn more about the referral process, inpatient, outpatient and consulting services these trusted experts provide, contact the Recovery Center at (712) 655-2300 or find out more online at www.manningrecoverycenter.com.