Choosing a career as a first responder means putting your well-being second to those you serve.
If you are in this line of work, you are well aware of the potentially dangerous situations that come with it. With risk of exposure to contagious diseases and violent situations, our police officers, firefighters, 911 operators, paramedics, correction officers, military, hospital and trauma workers put their lives at risk in order to keep others safe. Clearly, the stress level in these jobs is high. Unfortunately, first responders sometimes turn to substance use to manage their stress.
First responders face the temptation of substance abuse because of easy access and high stress levels.
Without warning, substance abuse could take hold of a new hire or a 15-year veteran. Any stressful situation or dangerous encounter could trigger responders to seek a substance or activity in order to numb or treat the feelings brought on by the stress and trauma of the profession. The problem begins with this type of ‘self-medication’ to treat anxiety, stress and depression. Doing so merely covers the underlying problem without resolving it. All too easily, a first responder can get triggered again and face the return of symptoms and the pull to self-medicate…and thus the vicious cycle of addiction begins.
Thankfully, with public knowledge and awareness around PTSD, more programs are being developed to help first responders get help for substance abuse without feeling ashamed. By educating ourselves, and providing a safe environment for an open dialogue, we can better treat our first responders who suffer from substance abuse. Our first responders protect and care for us while in and sometimes out of uniform. They deserve to be treated with dignity and respect and given the help they need.
Contact us if you would like more information on first responders and substance abuse.