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Recovery Centers For America Offers Program Specifically Designed To Help Struggling First Responders

MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Pa. (CBS) -- Thursday was National First Responders Day to honor the men and women who put their lives at risk for others. This includes firefighters, police officers, paramedics and other frontline workers.

First responders deal with trauma and stress every day -- some are in recovery for substance abuse, healing together at a program in Chester County tailored for their special needs.

Putting their lives on the line to keep us safe, first responders are a brave bunch.

"I'm a pretty tough cookie, I was a police officer for 20 years," former police officer Claire Lang said.

For Lang, a former cop in Chester County, being tough took a devastating toll, a she spiraled into substance abuse. She lost her job and then her heart.

"Losing my kids has been the hardest thing that I've ever gone through and I've been through a lot," Lang said.

It's estimated up to 30% of first responders suffer with post-traumatic stress disorder and some grapple with addiction.

"We'd go to have a beer after a hard call or rough shift," Leah Mariani, with Recovery Centers of America, said.

Mariani is an EMT and also a counselor at Recovery Centers of America, or R.C.A., where there's a special program called RESCUE -- which is just for first responders.

"There's the extra level of comfort of someone who's been in my shoes and I know it and we can talk about it," Mariani said. "It can be a little different to find a support system that, they get it or you're not feeling like a burden because first responders specifically, we're the helpers. It's unnatural for us to not be the ones that are giving the help and are saying, like 'Hey this is my turn, I need help now too.'"

RCA has a huge facility in Devon.

RCA has both in and out-patient services, Lang says finding this community has been critical in her recovery.

"I share the good stuff, I share the bad stuff," Lang said. "Being here and speaking to the first responders here, they give me hope."

Lang says she hopes to someday go back to police work and is hopeful to be reunited with her children.

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