The addiction treatment field sees everyone come through their doors, and first responders are no exception. First responders are people trained to respond in an emergency, such as:
- police officers
- emergency medical technicians
This is a special group of people in our community, commended for their bravery and expected to be there for the rest of us when times get difficult. It is important to recognize that first responders are human too, and they do have the same emotions and weaknesses as the rest of us do.
The difference is that first responders have to deal with medical crisis’s and emergencies as part of their everyday life. They see injuries, death, and destruction on a scale that most people don’t realize. For this reason, things like first responder PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) can be a very real contributor to drug and alcohol addiction.
First Responder PTSD and Addiction
Many rehabs like Discovery Institute in New Jersey cater specifically to this population. It is a recognition that the fearless are in fact human, and their needs are just as important as everyone else’s. A big problem in that community is that first responders are hesitant to ask for help when they need it. They don’t want to be perceived as weak or unable to help. The truth is that asking for help is one of the strongest things a person can do, no matter what their position is in life.
First Responders Need Specialized Treatment
For first responders, specialized treatment is usually necessary. The PTSD of dealing with death and violence is something that not everyone can leave behind after a day of work. For most, we have a bad day at work and return home to our families. The worst that happened was a paper cut. For first responders, they may have faced grave situations in which their own lives were in danger. It simply isn’t the same.
The stress level these people deal with is on a whole new level. And for that reason, individualized treatment and care are necessary. It is often spoken about how trauma treatment is a vital part of addiction treatment. For first responders, learning how to deal with trauma might be the primary tool in getting rid of addiction.
Just because they are “the strong and the brave” doesn’t mean that first responder PTSD isn’t an issue. We encourage people like firemen and police officers to accept help so that they can set a standard for others around them. When more people become open to accepting help for drug and alcohol addiction, the number of people saving their own lives through treatment will rise.
Dr. Joseph Ranieri D.O. earned his BS in Pharmacy at Temple University School of Pharmacy in 1981 and His Doctorate Degree in Osteopathic Medicine at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine in 1991. He is Board Certified by the American Board of Family Medicine and a Diplomate of the American Board of Preventive Medicine Addiction Certification. Dr. Ranieri has lectured extensively to physicians, nurses, counselors and laypeople about the Disease of Addiction throughout New Jersey and Pennsylvania since 2012.