Why First Responders Suffer From Addiction

Addiction is one of the most serious mental health issues from which someone might suffer; however, addiction does not impact everyone the same way. Some people are more prone to developing addiction and substance abuse disorders than others. For example, age, gender, family history, prior medical history might play a role. Someone’s profession is also going to play a role in someone’s chances of developing a drug abuse or addiction disorder. One of the patient populations that is at the greatest risk of suffering from addiction are first responders.

What is addiction?

Addiction is the term used to describe a condition in which the brain believes it needs a dangerous substance to function. If someone continuously uses drugs or alcohol, the brain will eventually believe that it needs these substances to survive. When the brain has gone a while without having these substances, it sends signals to the rest of the body that makes the person crave drugs or alcohol.

Addiction is a progressive disease. Someone doesn’t necessarily start out severely addicted to drugs or alcohol, but if the disease is active long enough, someone can find themself draining their bank account to feed the addiction. They also might stop going to work in an effort to find more drugs and alcohol. People will even sacrifice time with family members and friends in an effort to seek out more drugs and alcohol. This is going to wreck someone’s personal and professional relationships, leading to the development of other mental health disorders as someone’s life starts to spiral out of control.

Why do First Responders suffer from addiction?

First responders are usually the first people to arrive at the scene of an event that is stressful, demanding, and dangerous. First responders include police officers, firefighters, and paramedics. They are the first people to rush to the scene of a natural disaster or terrorist attack. Without a doubt, first responders are heroes and their duties are essential to the functioning of modern society; however, nobody is immune to the effects of this type of job. What they see on a daily basis most people cannot fathom. They work long hours and they are constantly placing their lives on the line. This is going to create a lot of stress that negatively impacts not only their physical health but their mental health as well.

These individuals can feel like they need to be strong for everyone around them so they try to ignore their feelings. This can lead to unhealthy coping mechanisms. Instead of going home and reliving the trauma of the day, a first responder may drink until they forget what happened. Over time, these substances become more than just an aid to fall asleep at night. They become necessary for their overall functioning. At this point, addiction will set in and it has the potential to completely ruin someone’s personal and professional lives.

How to get help

Fortunately, there are treatment options available for first responders who have developed a substance abuse and addiction disorder. The first step in getting help to admit to one’s self that there is a problem that needs to be addressed. Then, they can start to ask for help from the people around them. Talk to family members and friends about what is going on. They’re the people who have always been there to help those in need. They can provide the emotional support that people are going to need to make a full recovery from addiction.

It’s also important to turn to the help of trained professionals and treatment programs. Treatment programs for first responders will focus on recovering from addiction but also address any mental health issues that may be occurring, as these often go hand in hand for first responders. Aside from substance abuse, anxiety, depression, and post traumatic stress injury (PTSI), are common amongst first responders.

Count on us for addiction treatment

Located in the beautiful mountains of the Angeles National Forest, First Responders First is an 1100-acre executive state-of-the-art substance abuse and alcohol treatment program designed exclusively to help First Responders. We have dedicated ourselves to helping the heroes that put their lives on the line every day. If you would like to learn more about our addiction treatment services and how we can help you, contact us today!