Emergency responders are exposed to more trauma than anyone else. These demanding jobs are the first to respond whenever anybody in the community is in danger. Often, you risk your life to save others, and the stress you are subjected to on a regular basis can’t be overstated.
Whether you’re an EMT, firefighter, or police officer, first responders are the first priority for substance abuse treatment. If you’re considering addiction treatment as a first responder, here are eight things to consider.
1. Practice breathing exercises
Breathing and meditation can resolve a lot of problems. Just taking a moment to gather your thoughts and reset goes a long way toward making the right decisions. More often than not, stopping and breathing replaces whatever substances and unhealthy habits you’re leaning on. It gives you time to decide if you truly need to make that decision and use that crutch.
2. Identify the trauma
When your job involves constantly putting your life on the line, it can be hard to pinpoint the exact trauma causing your problems. Being overly worried or scared of situations that normally wouldn’t affect you are red flags. Be on the lookout for situations that are triggering unnatural reactions from you. This tension and anxiety eventually manifest in something worse, like substance abuse. The sooner you identify and address traumatic situations, the easier you can recover.
3. Assess the symptoms
Post-traumatic stress isn’t usually diagnosed on its own. It’s the symptoms that make it obvious, including drug and alcohol abuse, depression, and suicidal thoughts. Just doing your job as a first responder can create situations that regularly test your humanity. At a certain point, it’s only natural that it gets to you. When trauma recovery turns into unhealthy habits, they need to be addressed immediately.
4. Confront the addiction
If you let things go too far, you eventually need to confront that you’re engaging in addictive behavior. Targeting the addiction itself is a step toward your recovery. You need to take responsibility for your disease in order to properly fight it. Confronting your addictions makes them real and gives you a tangible goal. You are not the problem – your addictive behaviors are.
5. Ignore the stigmas
It’s easy to feel like you did something wrong. Admitting an addiction can be stigmatizing, as people don’t like to feel like they’re doing anything wrong. It’s not your fault that you’re an addict, but you can’t get proper treatment until you move past the stigma and accept it. If you continue hiding your illness, you may get worse. This is why many professionals replace the term “disorder” in PTSD with “injury” to more accurately describe the affliction.
6. Seek treatment for First Responders
First responders live a lifestyle that’s hard to understand from the outside. That’s why you should seek group treatment from professionals who understand your unique needs. First Responders First is an exclusive treatment center that’s isolated from the rest of the world. This gives you the opportunity to reconnect with nature and find yourself while surrounded by nature. Our experienced staff understands the challenges you face because we’ve worked with medical, fire, and police personnel for years.
7. Continue your addiction treatment
Getting sober and confronting trauma isn’t easy, but things get even more difficult once you leave the safe space of the treatment facility. You return to your regular life and all the potential stressors. It can be difficult to continue putting yourself into life-threatening positions. If you need a career change, that’s something to consider, but continue outpatient and aftercare treatment once you leave. This includes signing up and attending alcoholics or narcotics anonymous meetings. Find a sponsor and make sobriety a priority.
8. Avoid relapsing
The worst thing that can happen to your sober life is a relapse. There will be times you are tested – it’s unavoidable. In those moments you’ll be tempted to turn back to the soothing drugs that used to provide comfort. Ignore those urges and continue taking steps forward. If you fall back, you may need to check yourself into a treatment facility again.
First responders are unsung heroes who put their lives on the line every day to protect others. Whenever you’re in a life-threatening situation, it’s the police, medical, and firefighters you think of. These emergency services keep our society safe, and you deserve our utmost respect and care for the consequences of your career decisions.
Contact First Responders First today to speak with one of our representatives about how we can provide personal care for your recovery. Addiction treatment plays a crucial role in creating a healthier lifestyle. We’ll work with you hand-in-hand toward that goal.