IAFF Center of Excellence Welcome Guide

On behalf of everyone at the IAFF Center of Excellence, congratulations on taking the first step toward a healthier you. This guide will introduce you to our treatment center and programs designed just for fire fighters and first responders, and answer your most pressing questions before your arrival. Here you’ll get an idea of what to bring with you and what daily life will look like. You’ll also have the opportunity to explore the different levels of care offered at our treatment center. We are excited to welcome you and are honored to be a part of your healing process — we’ll be with you every step of the way. 

Next Steps

Now that you’ve decided to begin treatment at the IAFF Center of Excellence, it’s time to prepare for your stay. Knowing what to bring, what to leave behind and how to reach our Maryland facility sets the stage for your lifelong recovery.

What to Bring

This guide ensures you have everything you need while you’re with us, so you can focus on what’s really important — healing. We recommend that new residents pack the following items:

  • Insurance and pharmacy card
  • Driver’s license or state ID
  • Necessary travel documentation
  • Relevant medical records
  • A list of important phone numbers
  • One week of season-appropriate clothing that will be laundered on-site
  • Sweater or jacket for indoors
  • Comfortable sleepwear
  • One-piece swimsuits for ladies, knee-length board shorts for men
  • Workout clothing and shoes
  • If you smoke: unopened cigarettes/tobacco products (enough for your entire anticipated stay)
  • Toothbrush, unopened toothpaste and alcohol-free mouthwash
  • Unopened shampoo and conditioner
  • Unopened sunscreen
  • Unopened face wash and moisturizer
  • Unopened lotion
  • Unopened lip balm
  • Unopened feminine products
  • Positive reading material
  • Pictures of family and friends
  • Music device (cannot have internet access)
  • Insulin (if dependent)
  • Prescribed non-narcotic medications
  • Shaving razors
  • A hat, if desired
  • Sunglasses, glasses or contact lenses (if necessary)
  • Unopened contact solution (if necessary)
  • Hairbrush or comb
  • Hobby items (journals, sketchbooks, etc.)
  • Pre-paid credit card or cash

*Please note: Electrical items (e.g., hairdryer, curling iron, electric shavers) are allowed, but will be checked for safety.

*To be monitored and retained by staff.

What Not to Bring

Rehabilitation is an opportunity to distance yourself from the people, places and ways of thinking that contribute to drug or alcohol use. Because your focus is on recovery, we prohibit patients from bringing certain items to the IAFF Center of Excellence to help them focus on recovery. Items NOT permitted at our facility include:

  • Drugs or alcohol
  • Drug or alcohol paraphernalia
  • Illegal substances or mood-altering drugs (including over-the-counter products that may alter mood)
  • Weapons (including pocket knives)
  • Food of any kind (including candy)
  • Internet devices (including laptops, computers and tablets)
  • Narcotic medications (including medicinal/licensed marijuana)
  • Vaporizers (vapes) and electronic cigarettes
  • Clothing depicting drugs, drug paraphernalia, explicit language and/or images
  • Inappropriate, overly revealing clothing like short shorts and tank tops
  • Expensive or excessive jewelry
  • Cameras or handheld video or tape recorders
  • Products containing alcohol (e.g., mouthwash, hand sanitizer, nail polish remover, etc.)
  • Aerosol products (including hairspray and spray deodorant)
  • Dental floss (dental floss will be provided)
  • Opened toiletry products (including lotion and shampoos)
  • Opened packs of cigarettes
  • Opened vitamin bottles
  • Pornographic material
  • Card decks, games and sporting equipment

Travel Details

During the admissions process, all necessary travel accommodations are booked and confirmed by you or your loved ones. You are free to come to the facility via car, or you can arrange travel here via airplane, train or bus. Wherever you’re coming from, our staff will provide transportation from all local train stations, bus stations and airports.

Expectations after Arrival

Within the first 24 hours after your arrival, you can expect:

  • Mandatory Searches
  • Screening Process
  • Medical Exam

To ensure the safety and sobriety of both new and current patients, each resident must consent to a search of both their person and belongings upon arrival. During this search, staff members will collect any items not permitted during treatment and store them in a safe and secure place to be returned when your stay is complete. Additional random searches may be conducted during your stay.

Cell Phone Use

To ensure your continued recovery, no cell phones are allowed at our facility. For the safety and privacy of all patients, cell phones will be securely stored upon arrival and signed in and out by your therapist during specific sessions. However, phone contact to loved ones will be made upon your arrival. Because healing is your first priority, keeping distractions to a minimum is key for recovery. After an initial 72-hour stabilization period and clinically managed detox, you will have phone access three times per week, in 20-minute increments, and on one additional weekend day, with no calling card required.

The Facility

Located just outside Washington, D.C., in the forest hills of Upper Marlboro, Maryland, our 15-acre facility is designed just for IAFF members, with a basketball court, gym and comfortable residential areas with 64 beds. Our facility was designed with the firehouse in mind to make treatment as comfortable as possible. You’ll find familiar touches throughout the common areas and residences

The IAFF Center of Excellence is an ideal place for fire fighters to take steps toward recovery. The gorgeous Maryland landscape, combined with our amenities designed just for fire fighters, sets the stage for your healing, self-discovery and acceptance.

Amenities and Therapies

Our amenities are part of what makes the IAFF Center of Excellence so unique.Amenities and activities that are offered include*:

  • Exercise gym
  • Swimming pool (open from Memorial Day to Labor Day)
  • Basketball court
  • Volleyball court
  • Laundry facility and basic housekeeping
  • Walking trails
  • Outdoor reading and reflection areas
  • Yoga therapy
  • Equine therapy
  • EMDR therapy
  • AA and NA meetings

*Activities may change from time to time or from season to season.  Access to these amenities varies depending on situational medical recommendations and level of care.

IAFF Center of Excellence volleyball court


Each day, in-house staff members plan, prepare and serve three nutritious meals for all residents. Typically, you will have a few different meals to choose from for breakfast, lunch and dinner, with vegetarian and vegan options available. Two snacks a day are also provided. If you have any food allergies, please let us know prior to your arrival so we can appropriately accommodate you.

Sleeping Arrangements

Rooms at The IAFF Center of Excellence provide a comfortable place to rest during your recovery. Four patients typically occupy each room. Each of these rooms includes one shared bathroom. The number of residents in each room may vary depending on your individual treatment stage and care needs.

A Day in the Life

Your days at the IAFF Center of Excellence will be spent learning to live a life of improved behavioral health, whether it be through recovering from substance use disorder or treating PTSD or other mental health conditions. You’ll find new hobbies, make lasting connections with other fire fighters and rediscover your own personal interests.

As you move through the different levels of care, your daily life will change as you gain new insight and advance through treatment. Depending on the level of care, your day may include group and individual therapy sessions, recreational activities and more.

Types of Therapy

During your stay, you’ll participate in a variety of personalized therapy sessions and support groups. These sessions are designed to help you conquer addiction by recognizing and overcoming triggers, personal scars and past struggles. Your treatment may include:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy
  • Dialectical behavioral therapy skills group
  • EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing) therapy
  • 12-Step and Back to Basics Support groups
  • Individual counseling
  • Group Therapy

Family Visits and Outreach

During treatment, it’s important to reconcile with yourself and your family. While some people do better with long-distance family treatment, others may prefer to have visits from parents, spouses or other family members. Because connecting with your past is vital, talk sessions are held once a week with family members, usually by phone. Additional family visits may be granted when deemed clinically appropriate, and clients can decline family contact if they wish.

Off-Site Visits

While your treatment will take place at the IAFF Center of Excellence, there may be off-site opportunities available. Off-site visits are generally available to clients in partial hospitalization or outpatient levels of care. With a range of recreation options, including yoga, a gym, basketball and more available on-site, there are plenty of activities available to aid in your recovery.

Smoke Breaks

The IAFF Center of Excellence allows residents to take periodic smoke breaks. Keep in mind that patients must smoke in designated areas. The timing and frequency of these breaks will be determined based on situational medical recommendations. If you smoke, you will need to bring enough unopened cigarettes or tobacco products for the anticipated length of your stay. Smoking cessation products may be offered during your treatment. Please note, vaporizers are not permitted.

The Treatment Process

The IAFF Center of Excellence consists of two treatment programs: the substance abuse program and the mental health program. The substance abuse program is designed to provide treatment for individuals with a substance use disorder or co-occurring disorders (a substance use disorder and another behavioral health disorder, such as PTSD). The mental health program is intended for individuals seeking treatment for behavioral health disorders other than substance use disorders.

There are a number of levels of care within the substance abuse program, ranging from clinically managed residential detox and residential treatment to partial hospitalization and intensive outpatient care. The treatment programs that you participate in will depend on your own personal needs. Care often starts with detox, an intensive process that typically takes between five and seven days. From there, you’ll either move to residential care, partial hospitalization or intensive outpatient care. During and after treatment, staff members will work with you to formulate an effective aftercare plan for when you return home.

The entire treatment process varies in length, but often lasts between 30 and 45 days. After treatment, you’ll return home equipped with the tools and resources you need to continue your recovery at home, work and everywhere in between. Your treatment may include:

Medically Assisted Treatment

Depending on what substance is being misused, quitting cold turkey can be dangerous and even life-threatening. That’s why the IAFF Center of Excellence provides medication-assisted treatment (MAT), which combines behavioral therapy and medication to treat substance use disorders. This combination can also be used to treat co-occurring disorders.

Our regulated clinically managed detox plan and 24-hour care services are available for those in residential treatment. Individualized clinical care and tapering ensures that you have a healthy and comfortable transition. Before leaving the center, our staff will provide you with a list of local resources and clinics for continuous care as you start your substance-free life.

Alumni Aftercare

During your treatment, you’ll become part of a dynamic recovery family, but that camaraderie doesn’t end when you leave the IAFF Center of Excellence. Our alumni aftercare program keeps you in contact with an IAFF Center of Excellence research assistant for 18 months after treatment.

Our Staff

Abby Morris
Medical Director
Nanci Stockwell

Laura Clarke
Marisa Hall

Insurance and Your Obligation During Treatment

Many health insurance plans require that you pay out-of-pocket expenses prior to accessing your healthcare benefits. These “patient responsibility” expenses may include deductibles, co-pays, a coinsurance percentage and maximum out-of-pocket expenses. Each patient’s individual responsibility varies, depending on a number of factors, including:

  • Your individual benefits plan
  • Length of stay at center
  • Type of services received during treatment
  • Other services offered at center, but not covered by your insurance provider (lab tests, non-covered prescriptions, etc.)
  • Reasonable boarding fees (should you decide to stay with the facility for treatment at outpatient levels of care)

Our financial counselor will review these fees with you within 72 hours of admission, or as soon as you’re medically stable. The deductible is due upon admittance to our center. The co-insurance amount and out-of-pocket balance will be billed and paid for after treatment, once services are complete. On-site financial counselors will again review your financial responsibility during treatment with case managers who can help you navigate FMLA.

Keep in mind that it’s your responsibility to check with your insurance provider prior to admitting at the IAFF Center of Excellence to understand your individual benefits plan. Please also note that your insurance plan may not be a “participating provider” with the IAFF Center of Excellence. You are responsible for all non-covered and out-of-pocket costs related to your treatment during your stay.