Substance abuse issues have the potential to negatively affect anyone. Addiction can quickly and easily take over a person’s life, impacting their work, family, relationships, and friends. While admitting to having substance use issues can be intimidating, acknowledging and dealing with these issues can turn a person’s life around, helping them overcome their addiction and lead a happy and healthy life.
The Connection Between Addiction and Emergency Responders
Substance abuse is a common issue among people of all occupations. Those who work high-risk jobs are even more likely to develop substance abuse issues. This includes emergency responders such as police officers, firefighters, and paramedics or EMTs. These types of jobs expose employees to potentially life-threatening situations, as well as occurrences that others may not be able to deal with emotionally. They are responsible for providing care and assistance after a crime or another disaster has taken place. These occupations are important for the general public’s well-being but require employees to deal with incredibly stressful conditions. This greatly increases the risk of developing mental health disorders like depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder, which can all lead to substance abuse problems.
Substance Abuse and Police Officers
Police officers deal with a considerable amount of trauma and stress on a daily basis. Officers witness a multitude of disturbing occurrences, including domestic violence, drug abuse, murder, and suicide. They are also consistently under threat of physical harm, which can cause an incredible amount of stress. Officers have easy access to drugs as well while arresting drug dealers and responding to instances of drug overdose. This level of stress can quickly build over time and can easily lead to mental health problems and risk-taking behaviors, like drug or alcohol addiction. Officers may also participate in these behaviors to fit in or bond with their peers in the occupation.
Substance Use and Firefighters
Firefighters also have hazardous jobs, entering burning structures and saving the lives of civilians. They are at risk of on-the-job injuries such as burns and smoke inhalation. Long shifts coupled with traumatic calls can easily lead to mental health issues like post-traumatic stress order and depression. Turning to drugs or alcohol is one way to attempt to cope with these issues.
Like police officers, there are also social factors when it comes to instances of addiction among firefighters. Attempts to better fit in with others and efforts to ‘wind down’ from the stress of emergency calls may result in significant alcohol or drug consumption.
Addiction and Paramedics/EMTs
Paramedics and Emergency Medical Technicians are typically called to the scene of an emergency where injuries have been sustained. These scenes may include car accidents, domestic violence, fires, and other personal injury or medical emergencies. EMTs and paramedics typically work 24-hour shifts, which can take a physical and mental toll on them. They are also often responsible for making life-and-death decisions while on the job. As stress builds, many individuals turn to substance use in an effort to cope. EMTs and paramedics also have easy access to prescription medications, which can be an issue when dealing with high amounts of stress.
Rehabs for Emergency Responders
Rehabilitation programs are vital for emergency responders dealing with drug or alcohol abuse. Rehabs for emergency responders like police officers, firefighters, and paramedics or EMTs learn appropriate coping strategies for their difficult occupations and help them deal with potential triggers they encounter during their lives both on and off the job. There are many different types of rehabilitation programs designed to fit the variety of needs an individual has.
Most rehabilitation treatments begin with a detox program. Detox, or detoxification, allows the body to rid itself of any toxins that have built up due to drug or alcohol addiction. Detox at a treatment center is typically medically assisted. This means that healthcare professionals monitor the process. The doctors and medical staff in the program note any withdrawal symptoms that the client may experience, and severe symptoms can be reduced through medical intervention. The detox process may be the first step toward recovery, but it does not address the underlying issues that may cause addiction. This is why inpatient or outpatient treatment programs are needed after completing detoxification.
Inpatient vs. Outpatient Treatment
Both inpatient and outpatient treatment options are available to clients. For those with severe or prolonged issues with substance abuse, inpatient treatment is typically recommended. This type of treatment involves clients staying on the rehabilitation center campus during their treatment. Inpatient programs may be specialized and are designed to provide 24/7 care for their clients. Inpatient programs are also ideal for clients who lack a support system outside of treatment as well as those who deal with co-occurring disorders like depression or post-traumatic stress disorder.
Outpatient programs allow clients to continue living at home and working while receiving treatment. These programs are recommended for clients with strong support systems at home and those with less severe instances of addiction. Additionally, outpatient programs are more flexible than their inpatient counterparts because clients do not have to live on the campus of treatment facilities.
One of the key parts of rehabilitation is therapy. Many different types of therapies are available to clients depending on the treatment program attended. Some of the most common types of therapies found in addiction treatment programs are behavioral therapies like individual, group, and family counseling. Therapy programs are designed to assist clients in modifying their perception and behavior when it comes to drug or alcohol abuse by learning to avoid triggers, cope with cravings, and increase their support system.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy works to help clients identify situations where they may have turned to drugs or alcohol in the past, as well as how to avoid or deal with those situations.
Dialectical Behavior Therapy
Dialectical Behavior Therapy teaches clients how to better cope with stress, as well as emotional regulation skills and improving interpersonal relationships. This type of therapy has great potential in the treatment of many mental health issues, including depression and PTSD.
Introduction to 12-step programs is commonly available within rehabilitation treatment and is ideal because patients are able to continue these programs even after leaving rehab.
Aftercare programs provide the support needed for clients to avoid relapse after leaving the rehabilitation program or treatment facility. Aftercare programs focus on clients’ needs and address various subjects, like mental health issues. As a result, aftercare programs go a long way in helping those who have attended a rehabilitation program maintain their sobriety and flourish outside of a program.
Getting Help for Addiction
Getting help for addiction is important for first responders such as police officers, firefighters, and paramedics or EMTs, as the general public often relies on them for safety and security. Recovery is a process that continues after rehab is completed, and trusting the right program can help clients maintain sobriety despite having jobs with significant stress.