It’s important for the country to take care of its first responders the way they take care of us. First responders are trained, dedicated professionals, who put their lives on the line every day so everyone else can sleep safely at night. When people think about first responders, they often envision someone rushing into burning buildings, showing up at the sites of terrorist attacks, and soothing loved ones as a family member dies in their arms. On the other hand, there is much more to the life of a first responder than what people see on TV.
There’s a tremendous amount of stress that goes into the job of a first responder and these are professionals who have to go home to their own friends and family members as well. The typical stereotype of a first responder is someone who stands up to stress and continues to act as nothing has happened. This is called compartmentalization, and it’s supposed to enable them to more easily do their job.
In reality, first responders have higher rates of mental health and addiction (substance abuse) disorders than the average population. There’s a tremendous physical and mental strain that comes from this job as they work long hours and lack sleep. They’re also at risk to develop something called PTSI, or post-traumatic stress injury. It’s important for everyone to know what PTSI is and how it’s treated. We’d also like to note that post-traumatic stress injury used to be referred to as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
What are the signs that someone is struggling from PTSI?
There are a few common signs of PTSI. One of the hallmark symptoms is called re-experiencing, or flashbacks. Individuals with this disorder often start to sweat and breathe quickly as they relive traumatic experiences from the past. These individuals are also going to enter a state of hyperarousal. This means that they tend to feel extremely on-edge. This makes it hard to sleep and gives them a short temper. This can impact relationships with their family members and friends, leading to even more stress.
Another common symptom is avoidance. This is going to result in feelings of guilt as the first responder goes to extreme lengths to avoid certain situations that might remind them of the event that led to PTSI in the first place. This can impact professional relationships, making it hard for him or her to do the job of a first responder.
Finally, PTSI can be found in conjunction with other mental health disorders. These individuals often develop anxiety, which is marked by intense fears of specific places, trouble sleeping, changes in eating patterns, and substance abuse (addiction) disorders. Another comorbid condition with PTSI is depression. While everyone feels sad from time to time, this may become an ongoing problem for people with PTSI. Depression can perpetuate feelings of loss, hopelessness, and even suicidal thoughts.
How can First Responders find help for PTSI?
If someone is struggling with the signs and symptoms of PTSI, the best thing they can do is reach out and ask for help. They need to know that there are people around them who are going to provide support. This includes family members and friends who, even though they don’t know what the job of a first responder is like, are going to be there to lend emotional support to someone in need. While the people in a first responders life play a critical role in the recovery process, it’s important for them to know they aren’t trained professionals.
There are medical professionals who specialize in the treatment of people who suffer from PTSI. With the right treatment methods, first responders can make a full recovery. There are even substance abuse programs that treat PTSI as well.
Let us help you with your addiction treatment today
At First Responders First, we are a large, state-of-the-art substance abuse, alcohol, and mental health treatment program located in the Angeles National Forest. We are designed exclusively to serve First Responders who would like help with addiction and mental health disorders. If you would like more information about our addiction treatment program, please contact us today!