For firefighters, police officers, combat veterans, and EMTs, witnessing violence, abuse, and death are daily occurrences. In order to cope with the stress of their jobs, many first responders turn to drugs and alcohol. First responders have higher rates of mental illness, including substance abuse, addiction, and suicide, than the general public. For example, the rate of substance use disorders among firefighters is 10%, which is twice the rate of the general public. Why is that? Well, the constant exposure to life-threatening situations, trauma, and the physical strain from their jobs increases the vulnerability and risk of substance abuse and addiction among first responders. Firefighters, law enforcement officers, paramedics, and other first responders deal with trauma on a daily basis. The threat of personal attack, constant stress, and an inability to save everyone can eventually take a toll on a first responder’s physical, mental, and emotional health. First responders deal with an array of mental health disorders, including, but not limited to: post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, depression, substance abuse, and co-occurring disorders. Over the last ten years, law enforcement officers have been among the highest groups suffering from substance abuse, depression, and suicide. It is important for these brave men and women to receive specialized first responder addiction treatment care.
The stress involved in first responders’ careers plays an important role in their substance abuse problems. According to research that studied stress in retired police officers, negative coping skills such as drinking were related to the feeling of being stressed. Law enforcement officers drink in higher quantities and have higher rates of binge drinking than non-officers. Alcohol and suicide are also closely linked. A 2010 study found the presence of alcohol in 95% of police suicides.The reality is that first responders experience stressors that surpass the typical range of human emotions. In order to deal with these stressors, many first responders turn to drugs and alcohol to numb their emotions and block out the tragic memories connected to their jobs.
Specialized First Responder Addiction Treatment
For first responders struggling with addiction, it is critical that they receive specialized treatment that addresses their unique needs and recovery goals. First responders need a safe space to discuss their underlying issues, as well as their addiction. Being surrounded by peers and staff members who truly understand or have had similar experiences is invaluable during this difficult time. It is beneficial for first responders to have the support of peers who understand the unique challenges related to their careers. In addition to typical addiction treatment care, first responder addiction treatment should involve trauma therapy to help clients learn how to properly deal with their PTSD. PTSD, depression, and substance abuse are common among first responders and are triggered by repeated exposure to trauma. Treatment should also include therapy to deal with anger, guilt and shame, and coping with violence.
For first responders and their families, the stigma of substance use and mental health disorders can be a major barrier to receiving treatment. Struggling first responders may not want to call attention to their challenges with substances, may prefer to just focus on their job, or may be in denial about the severity of their addiction. Attending a specialized first responder addiction treatment program may lessen their fear of being labeled and judged.
There is particular concern for retired first responders. Retirement can uncover and exacerbate substance abuse and mental health disorders that were masked during active duty. The period right after retirement is a very vulnerable time for first responders. Submerged emotional issues rise to the surface and unhealthy coping mechanisms, like abusing drugs and alcohol, come to play.
Transformations’ First Responder Addiction Treatment Program
At Transformations, we understand the extreme level of physical, emotional, and mental stress that our first responders deal with on a daily basis. We believe that these courageous men and women deserve specialized addiction treatment that will address their unique needs as first responders. Firefighters, police officers, paramedics, military, and other emergency personnel are experiencing some of the nation’s highest rates of substance abuse, depression, and suicide. Our unique First Responder Program addresses their substance abuse, PTSD, depression, and other co-occurring disorders.
Our First Responder Program is lead by Carlos Farina, a war veteran who has spent 30 years as a law enforcement officer. During his career, his assignments included road patrol duty, hostage negotiator, and psychological profiler. He understands the demands that first responders face, so he can truly relate to our clients and help them heal and recover. Transformations’ first responder addiction treatment program is specifically designed to help emergency workers and their families cope with the problems brought on by job stress and substance abuse. It includes group and individual therapy, which focuses on trauma management, rebuilding family relationships, positive coping skills, suicide awareness and prevention, understanding triggers, anger management, and grief and loss counseling. We offer Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing therapy, individual therapy, group therapy, and dual diagnosis treatment.
If you or your loved one is a first responder struggling with substance abuse, reach out to Transformations Treatment Center today. We are committed to providing specialized care for all first responders struggling with addiction, trauma, depression, and other co-occurring disorders. You will be surrounded by peers and staff members who understand your experiences, difficulties, and goals. Your journey to freedom starts here. Call now: (800) 270-4315