Scott Silverman earned wide acclaim for his work in helping ex-felons secure housing, jobs, and a productive life in recovery. In his latest venture, he appears to have come full circle.
“My clients today are the ones who used to put my old ones in jail,” Silverman jokes.
His new Confidential Recovery program in San Diego will be targeting all first responders, from police officers to border patrol agents to paramedics (as well as licensed professionals such as physicians, nurses and attorneys), with occupation-specific partial hospitalization and intensive outpatient services.
Silverman, who was named a CNN Hero in 2008 for his Second Chance program for offenders, says there is a huge unmet need for substance use-related services for first responders and licensed professionals, and his program will offer accessible outpatient care geared to allow individuals to stay on their regular work schedules (he originally had considered the idea of establishing a higher-end residential treatment program targeting these professionals).
Literature from Confidential Recovery states that an estimated 15 to 20% of law enforcement officers and licensed professionals have substance use problems significant enough to compromise their ability to perform their jobs safely. The organization also states that based on trends extrapolated from national data, more than 6,000 licensed medical professionals in San Diego are likely addicted.
Confidential Recovery will offer a six-week core program that will emphasize client privacy and the opportunity to continue working while in the program, but Silverman says the two years of follow-up to which each participant will have access could be called the “secret sauce” of his effort. The follow-up services will cost around $1,000 to $1,500 a month.
“What worked for me in my recovery is that I stayed engaged,” says Silverman, 60, who has been in recovery for 30 years.
Breaking down barriers
Each profession that falls under the “first responder” umbrella brings somewhat different concerns and needs to treatment, says Silverman, and Confidential Recovery will seek to tailor its services accordingly. That might mean scheduling groups for border patrol agents to coordinate with graveyard shift hours, or having doctors come in right before work in the morning.
A common thread generally involves these professionals' general mistrust of anyone who hasn't walked in their shoes professionally—even other first responders.
“They don't trust more people than they do trust,” Silverman says. “I think that's why they're not getting the help they need.”
Confidential Recovery will be hiring former police officers and other ex-professionals to work with patients. Silverman adds, “We won't mix nurses with doctors, or doctors with cops, or firefighters with border patrol.”
In addition, Confidential Recovery will confront professionals' other barriers to treatment head-on, from some physicians' air of superiority to busy professionals' concern that they don't have enough time to attend groups.
Silverman says he has reached out to unions to let leaders know that his organization is available as a resource, even to offer testimony in legal cases. Confidential Recovery is working with a separate entity to identify community housing options when that is needed for a particular patient.
Silverman says Confidential Recovery will take a flexible approach to aftercare support, using a combination of technology and in-person sessions to keep individuals engaged for an extended period. While he strongly espouses 12-Step recovery, he says the services in this new venture will avoid a one-size-fits-all approach. Long-term, “My goal is to be in four to seven regions,” he says.