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Addiction recovery program for first responders, veterans hopes to "save a million lives"

Addiction recovery program in Massachusetts focused on helping first responders, veterans
Addiction recovery program in Massachusetts focused on helping first responders, veterans 02:37

WESTMINSTER - The Recovery Center of America (RCA) in Westminster, Massachusetts is an inpatient alcohol and drug addiction treatment facility that's saving lives.

"Our mission is to save a million lives. We want people to come in here and feel safe and feel cared for and feel respected," said Todd Whitridge, the center's regional director of business development.

What is RESCU?

The RCA has a program called RESCU that's specifically set up to help first responders and military veterans with recovery. 

"The need for privacy, security and confidentiality, is really important for members of that community. They are entering into treatment and they know that their identity is safe," Whitridge told WBZ-TV. "Furthermore, the actual clinical programing itself is designed around unique traumas that people in the first responder community experience."

The program is run by first responders.

"It takes the sigma away"

"Knowing that these people understand what you've been through. They really get you at a whole different level than anybody else probably will. And I think that's absolutely important when it comes to recovery. It takes the stigma away." patient Chris Rodriguez told WBZ.

Rodriguez is a veteran and is currently a correctional officer in Connecticut. He says the day-to-day can take a toll.

"It gets placed in a place where I really don't want to deal with it. You know, there really is no healthy way of going about it because of some of the stigmas that go with being in law enforcement, being in the corrections field," he said. "Some of that stuff has gone buried and some of it would come up and the only way to really get away from it and try to put it in a place where I wanted it, was to self-medicate,"

"I've been through that"

Rodriguez told WBZ that being able to talk to the people in the program has changed his life and it can do the same for others.

"You can open up about what you went through and you can identify with other people in the room with you and identifying instead of comparing is one of the best things that we can do in recovery, and sit here and say, 'I understand that, I've been through that, let's talk about it more,'" Rodriguez said.

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