The IAFF Center of Excellence® for Behavioral Health Treatment and Recovery Welcome Guide:
What to Expect from Intake to Aftercare

The Path to Health Starts Here

On behalf of everyone at the IAFF Center of Excellence®, congratulations on taking the first step toward a healthier you.

This guide provides information about the Center, treatment, levels of care and programs, as well as FAQs and details about what to bring with you and what daily life is like for clients.

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’re ready 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 successful recovery.

  • What to Bring

    We want to make sure 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 license/state ID
    • Two weeks worth of season-appropriate clothing
    • 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 if you prefer to have a specific brand. We do supply shampoo, conditioner, and body wash.
    • 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 (if not internet accessible)
    • Insulin (if dependent)
    • Prescribed non-narcotic medications
    • Shaving razors
    • A hat, if desired
    • A watch
    • Pre-paid credit card or cash* for outings and incidentals

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

    *Both of these will be monitored and retained by staff.

  • What Not to Bring

    The IAFF Center of Excellence provides treatment for substance use disorders and co-occurring behavioral health issues, such as PTSD, depression or anxiety. While you may not be receiving treatment for substance use disorders, the list of prohibited items applies to all clients to ensure the safety of all members in treatment.

    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 images
    • 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


Travel Details

During the admissions process, all necessary travel accommodations (car, airplane, train or bus) are booked and confirmed by you or your loved ones. Wherever you’re coming from, our staff will provide transportation from all local train stations, bus stations and airports to the Center of Excellence.

Expectations after Arrival

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

To ensure the safety and sobriety of both new and current clients, 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.
Upon arrival, you’ll be asked about your substance use, psychiatric history and social and legal history. 
Your health is our first priority when you arrive. You will undergo a comprehensive medical exam and discuss your goals for treatment shortly after you get to the IAFF Center of Excellence.

Cell Phone Use

To ensure your continued recovery, no cell phones are allowed at our facility. For the safety and privacy of all clients, 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 blackout period, you may use the facility’s phone to make calls to family and/or friends. Following clinically managed detox, you will have phone access three times per week, in 20-minute increments. No calling card is required for these calls. 

The Facility

Located outside Washington, D.C., in 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 is designed with the firehouse in mind to create a familiar setting. You’ll find these touches throughout the common areas and residences.

The IAFF Center of Excellence is the perfect place to turn over a new leaf and begin your recovery. The peaceful 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. A sample of the amenities and activities that are offered includes*:

  • Exercise gym
  • Basketball court
  • Volleyball court
  • Laundry and housekeeping
  • Walking trails
  • Swimming pool (Open Memorial Day through Labor Day)
  • Outdoor reading and reflection areas
  • Yoga therapy
  • AA and NA meetings

*Activities may change from time to time or from season to season. Your access to these amenities may vary depending on clinical recommendations of your treatment team.


Each day, an in-house chef plans, prepares and serves three nutritious meals for all residents. Typically, you will have a few meal options to choose from for breakfast, lunch and dinner, including a salad bar, 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. We also have the ability to consult with a Registered Dietician, should you have any special dietary needs.

Sleeping Arrangements

Rooms at The IAFF Center of Excellence offer a comfortable place to rest during your recovery. Four clients 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 needs. Rooms will always be gender specific. 

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 recovering from a substance use disorder or treating PTSD and other mental health conditions. You’ll find new hobbies, make lasting connections with other IAFF members and rediscover your own personal interests.

As you move through each level of care, your daily routine 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. While no two courses of treatment are exactly alike, the sample schedule below gives you an idea of what to expect at the IAFF Center of Excellence:

A Day at The Center of Excellence Schedule

Types of Therapy

During your stay, you’ll participate in a variety of personalized therapy sessions and treatment groups. These sessions are designed to improve your behavioral health and assist you in recognizing and overcoming triggers, personal trauma and past struggles. Your treatment may include:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
  • Dialectic Behavioral Therapy (DBT)
  • EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) Therapy
  • 12-Step and Back to Basics Support Groups
  • Individual Counseling for Mental Health and/or Substance Use Issues
  • Pharmaceutical Management
  • Group Therapy for Mental Health and/or Substance Use Issues

  • Connector.

    Family Visits and Therapy

    During treatment, family involvement is often critical to the healing process. While some do better with long-distance family interventions, others may prefer to have visits from parents, spouses or other loved ones. Because connecting with your past is vital, therapy sessions are held once a week with family members, usually by phone. Beginning in January 2018, monthly family weekends will give loved ones an opportunity to see your progress firsthand, while also participating in family therapy sessions. Additional family visits may occur when deemed clinically appropriate.

  • Connector.

    Off-Site Visits

    While your treatment will take place at the IAFF Center of Excellence, there may be off-site learning and recreational opportunities available. Trips to neighboring Washington, D.C. with visits to museums, monuments and other engaging offerings are an example of such opportunities. Off-site visits are generally available to clients in partial hospitalization or outpatient levels of care.

  • Connector.

    Smoke Breaks

    The IAFF Center of Excellence allows residents to take periodic breaks for personal time. 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 will be offered during your treatment. Please note, vaporizers are not permitted. Keep in mind that clients must smoke in designated areas.

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 those individuals with a substance use disorder or co-occurring disorder (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, including clinically managed detox, residential treatment, partial hospitalization and intensive outpatient care. The treatment programs that you participate in will depend on your own personal needs. For IAFF members coping with addiction, 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, where you’ll continue treatment before formulating an aftercare plan with your medical team.

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:

Clinically 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 medical 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 ongoing care as you continue your recovery.

Our Staff

  • Tim Craig
    Executive Director

    Tim is an administrator and consultant with more than 30 years of experience in healthcare and human services. He has an extensive and varied background in behavioral health, with a focus on the provision of services to individuals with substance use disorders.

  • Dr. Abby Morris
    Medical Director

    A graduate of Georgetown University School of Medicine, Dr. Morris is responsible for all inpatient care, training and future planning and for developing a continuum of care that will follow each client throughout their stay at the center.

  • Carol Ivy Simmons, Ph.D., LCSW-C
    Clinical Director

    Dr. Simmons has more than 20 years of behavioral health and health care experience at the local, state and federal levels, with leadership roles at Ft. Meade and the Pentagon. Her background includes leadership and high quality clinical care. Dr. Simmons is responsible for the overall clinical operations at the IAFF Center of Excellence.

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 co-insurance percentage and maximum out-of-pocket expenses. Additional expenses related to pharmacy and labs from external providers and boarding fees (if you choose to remain at the Center or are authorized for outpatient levels of care) can be up to $1,500 or more for an individual depending on your unique circumstances and length of stay. Each patient’s financial responsibility varies, depending on a number of factors, including:

  • Your individual health insurance plan
  • Length of stay
  • Services received during treatment
  • Other services offered, but not covered by your insurance provider (lab tests, non-covered prescriptions, etc.)
  • $20 daily boarding fees (should you decide to stay with the facility for treatment for PHP and IOP 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 the center. The co-insurance amount and out-of-pocket balance will be billed and paid for after treatment, once services are complete. Individual case managers will also review your financial responsibility during treatment, who can also help you navigate FMLA.

Keep in mind that it’s your responsibility to check with your insurance provider prior to being admitted 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. We will provide you with the latest insurance information available to us through your insurance carrier detailing your deductible, co-insurance percentage and out-of-pocket maximum expense.

What To Expect – IAFF Center of Excellence
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What To Expect – IAFF Center of Excellence was last modified: November 22nd, 2017 by The Recovery Village