Aviation Professionals Program

Alcohol & Drug Addiction Treatment For Aviation Professionals

addiction treatment aviation professionalsIt doesn’t get more stressful than hurtling through the air at 575 mph, 35,000 above the surface of the planet, in a hollow metal tube filled with human cargo.

Whether you’re at the controls of a commercial airliner, tending to passenger needs as part of the flight crew or on the ground ensuring that the engines are mechanically sound and the customers pass all of the customary safety inspections, you’re under pressure every day. Combine that with time zone changes, jet lag, mandatory overtime and disrupted sleep patterns, and the desire to take the edge off is a natural human response.

What happens, however, when a chemical panacea becomes something more? What happens when a drink or two to ease stress becomes three, or five? What happens when they become a requirement to start the day? Or when they lead to other substances that impair judgment, vision, thinking and motor control? Social and financial consequences are one thing, but in the aviation industry, they come with a far greater cost: ruined reputations, lost careers and lives that are jeopardized.

At Cornerstone of Recovery, there’s a unique program for addicts and alcoholics in the aviation industry designed to help patients recover from their addiction, and to recover their careers. For more than a decade, Cornerstone has been one of the few drug and alcohol treatment centers in the nation that offers a program specifically for pilots, flight attendants air traffic controllers, mechanics and ground security coordinators, because the safety-sensitive nature of those jobs requires so much more than just rehabilitation. It requires earning the trust all over again — of your employers, of your industry and of yourself.

Our Aviation Program was conceived and is managed by former airline employees with more than 40 years of industry experience who know intimately the rigors of the job and the pressures that come with it; the expectations that you place upon yourself are second only to those put on you by federal and industry safety boards, and it can be a painstaking process to get the clearance you need to get back in the air or beneath the wing. That’s where our staff members come in: Their job is to not only help you overcome your addiction, but to help move the process forward to get you back where you belong.

Our Aviation Program team is dedicated to your success, and they’re familiar with FAA regulations, have extensive knowledge of specific policies of the various airlines and are deeply connected to a broad network of airline unions and employee assistance programs. Throughout the duration of this customized program — which may be from 30 to 90 days — they work closely with clients not just on combating the addiction and alcoholism but on implementing a lifelong program of recovery that can give those who return to the skies the confidence and serenity they need to face whatever turbulence — physical, financial and emotional — that may be on the horizon.


Here’s the Cornerstone of Recovery Aviation Team:

Brian O'Hearn is the Associate Director of the Aviation Program. Brian began his own aviation career with Delta Air Lines in 1997 as a flight attendant, working until 2003 in various capacities that included crew tracking, on-board services and recruiting. After transferring from Atlanta to Tampa, he was the base lead for the company’s Employee Involvement Group for nine years. In 2014, he addressed his own addiction problem and came to Cornerstone of Recovery as a patient. In 2016, he split his time as a Sober Living counselor with his Delta responsibilities, and in at the beginning of 2020, he was named Associate Director of Cornerstone’s Aviation Program.

Alcohol & Drug Addiction Treatment Services

The Path To Recovery Starts At Cornerstone

Medical Detoxification can be a critical time in a patient’s journey toward recovery because the symptoms of withdrawal can be difficult to manage and potentially life-threatening. A team of certified, competent and caring professionals work together to ensure that we provide the best medical care for our patients. The Medical Director prescribes detox medications to keep the patient safe and reasonably comfortable.

While receiving detoxification medications, patients also attend psychoeducational groups and experiential activities. However, detox patients are also given sufficient opportunity to relax and allow their bodies to begin the healing process. Patients on a detox protocol are monitored 24 hours a day and the typical length of detoxification is 3 to 5 days and may be longer depending on the severity of the patient’s withdrawal symptoms.

This unit is designed to support our patients as they enter treatment and begin to invest in their community of peers. An extensive battery of assessments is performed to identify the patient’s bio-psycho-social-spiritual strengths, needs, and barriers to recovery (such as chronic pain, dual diagnosis, trauma, or other co-occurring disorders). This comprehensive assessment process provides our medical and clinical teams with much of the information they need to build a treatment plan that is individualized for each patient.

Our NON-NARCOTIC PAIN MANAGEMENT PROGRAM offers solutions that eliminate and or reduce the dependence on medications to treat pain and improve treatment outcomes. We are able to reduce pain and improve the recovery process. We offer sound information and teach skills that the patient can use to improve coping, relaxation, mindfulness, nutrition, and much more. Some of the modalities we use are Reiki, Rubenfeld Synergy, Acupressure, Mindful Stretching, and Addiction Free Pain Management Education.

We believe healing occurs through direct experience. Experiential activities amplify the traditional therapeutic
modalities that are part of our milieu. Fitness, Meditation, Relaxation Therapy, Yoga, Spirituality Groups, Ropes Course, Mindfulness, Art Therapy, Drumming Circles, and community outings are some components of experiential healing at Cornerstone. Patients who participate in experiential therapies report reductions

Family Therapy is an integral part of all of the clinical programs at Cornerstone. Early on in the treatment process, we conduct a Family Questionnaire which allows family members and close personal friends to have input that impacts the patients treatment plan. When appropriate, there are Family Therapy sessions throughout the treatment process. These sessions are designed to work through relationship issues, enhance communication, educate the family about the disease of addiction and provide them with emotional support while their loved one is in treatment. Through this support, the family will gain knowledge about the treatment process and how they may be unknowingly supporting the addiction through co-dependent and enabling behaviors.

Family members will learn about how to engage in personal growth and change through various 12 step programs, so that the family can heal together trough the recovery process. Cornerstone requires that each patient complete Family Fundamentals, an intensive three-day family program designed to provide intensive education, group therapy, family therapy, 12 step meeting experience, and an opportunity to repair the damage caused by active addiction. Family members are strongly encouraged to attend the Family Fundamentals program along with the patient. Cornerstone also has a weekly family education group for family members and an ongoing support group for parents of young adults who are struggling with addiction or who have recently entered recovery

The Continuous Care Program upholds Cornerstone of Recovery’s treatment philosophy that chemical dependency is a chronic incurable disease that requires the consistent and continued attention of each patient for a lifetime. Recent scientific studies of the disease process have determined that full remission from active addiction does not occur until an individual has experienced at least 18 months of continuous sobriety, long after most intensive treatment programs have concluded.

In response to this knowledge, the Continuous Care Program provides services for a period of at least 18 months following treatment, to ensure that each patient has the opportunity for professional support throughout the early stages of their recovery. During this time, patients are encouraged to practice the skills and tools they learned and developed in treatment as they find their way back
into their home, work, and social environments. They are able to talk with Recovery Coaches and therapeutically
process the ups and downs they experience in sobriety. Active participation in the Continuous Care Program is vital in establishing a lifelong, solid recovery plan.

The Support Living Facility (SLF) provides a safe environment for patients to continue to learn and practice self-management and interpersonal relationship skills while solidifying their recovery program. It can take several months for individuals to become comfortable enough in their recovery to successfully move away from the environment where they got sober. The SLF Program allows men and women to experience some of the freedoms they will experience after treatment while they are supported by thier peers, staff, and a sober environment. Staff monitors the community through regular contact, group therapy, spirituality groups, relapse prevention groups, drug screens, and random checks of the living quarters. Eventually, the patient is allowed to retrieve their cell phone, to leave the premises, operate a vehicle and obtain employment. The minimum length of stay is 2 months (while the individual concurrently is in the IOP Program). Patients often choose to stay in SLF longer while they continue to build their recovery network and become more comfortable with the life changes they’ve made.Typical length of stay varies from 2 to 6 months, depending on the patient’s clinical needs.

Your First Step Towards Recovery Starts At Cornerstone


You Don't Have To Live In Active Addiction Any Longer

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