What is the Relationship Between First Responders and Addiction?

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Always the first to react in a situation, first responders run towards their stressors. But, first responders aren’t always given the physical and mental health care needed to process the traumas and disasters they witness. For many, alcohol and illicit drug use are a way to lessen their feelings and emotions and destress from an overwhelming situation.

 

At Coachella Valley Recovery Center, our first responder addiction treatment program addresses the behavioral and mental health concerns related to substance abuse and trauma related to their job. 

 

Speak with an admissions coordinator today to see how we can help.

 

What is the Relationship Between First Responders and Addiction?

A first responder’s job is to manage disaster, whether on an individual or large-scale basis. Personal, community, and global issues can compound these stressful situations. First responders like military personnel, police officers, firefighters, and EMTs all experience incredibly high levels of stress based on their job. Unfortunately, their position can also place them in direct contact with addictive substances and the results of substance abuse.

 

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, CDC, and other national mental health providers recognize the high-stress level first responders have, and many have begun to study how first responders distress. For example, one recent study found that approximately 50% of male firefighters reported having binged alcohol in the past month, while 9% reported driving while intoxicated. Another survey completed following Hurricane Katrina showed that police officers’ average number of drinks increased from 2 to 7 drinks per day. 

 

While active duty military personnel report lower numbers of illicit drug use, reports indicate that illegal drug use increases for veterans. Additionally, 63% of Afghanistan and Iraq war veterans diagnosed with a substance use disorder met the criteria for PTSD. Further research shows that veterans dual diagnosed with PTSD and substance use disorders are more likely to have other co-occurring psychiatric and medical conditions. Additionally, veterans accounted for approximately 13.7% of suicides among US adults in 2019, at a rate of roughly 17 suicides per day.

 

When discussing the behavioral health of first responders, they are at higher risk for substance use, depression, stress, post-traumatic stress disorder, and suicidal ideation and attempts.

 

Is There Drug Rehab for First Responders?

There is a Southern California drug rehab for first responders. This treatment programming is typically a combination of substance use and behavioral health treatment designed to provide holistic mental health care for each individual.

 

Drug rehab for first responders starts with detoxification and stabilization. Depending on the substance abuse and the client’s emotional state when entering rehab, this process can take a week to two weeks. Their treatment continues with behavioral therapy, individualized counseling, group therapy, and specialized treatment for any additional mental health concerns. For example, many first responders should incorporate specific trauma and PTSD-related therapy incorporated into their recovery programming. Trauma-specific therapies like eye-movement desensitization and reprocessing can help clients address psychological traumas and process their emotions.

 

First responder rehab programs should also specifically address identifying personal signs of stress and disaster coping skills. SAMHSA identifies signs of stress for first responders as “bodily sensations and physical effects such as rapid heart rate, headaches, nausea, and ability to relax with off duty, trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, strong negative feelings, difficulty thinking clearly, problematic or risky behaviors, and social conflicts” before, during, and after a disaster. When learning to identify the signs of stress, specific education on managing these stressors during a disaster is critical for the recovery of first responders.

 

How to Find Rehab for First Responders in Southern California

While beautiful, Southern California is not immune to its own disasters. First responders react to forest fires, car accidents, violence, and other stressors daily. Coachella Valley Recovery Center has direct programming and addiction treatment for first responders. We understand how hard it can be for those who help others to ask for help themselves. 

 

That is why we’ve created non-judgemental detoxification, residential inpatient, and Palm Springs dual diagnosis treatment program to help first responders get sober. At Coachella Valley Recovery Center, we promote mental and physical health by treating the individual, not just the disorder.

 

Don’t wait. Get help today.

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