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The Watershed’s 24-Hour Alcohol & Drug Addiction Crisis and Support Helpline for First Responders

Substance abuse in First Responders is a rising concern, and The Watershed Addiction Treatment Programs understands how difficult the experience can be not only for the First Responders but for their families and loved ones as well.

The Watershed has been providing comprehensive care to treat drug addiction and alcoholism since 1998 and has been able to treat more than 55,000 patients over the years. In addition to this, The Watershed is committed to providing support and resources for First Responders in need of substance abuse treatment.

Substance Abuse in First Responders

Alcoholism and drug addiction impact millions of Americans on a regular basis – and that includes First Responders too. In fact, First Responders can end up turning to substances like drugs and alcohol as a way to cope with day to day experiences that occur as a result of their duties. Some firefighters, police officers, and paramedics may even suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, and abuse substances to “self-medicate.”

The fact of the matter is that police officers, firefighters, EMTs, and paramedics face difficult situations on a regular basis. But how do you know when someone is suffering from PTSD as a result of these day to day experiences?

Signs of PTSD in First Responders

There are several signs of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in First Responders to become aware of. While reading about the signs of PTSD is no replacement for a proper diagnosis, it can help you get an accurate understanding on what PTSD is and may look like.

Some of the main characteristics of PTSD include:

    • •Having upsetting dreams and/or flashbacks about an event or experiences
    • •Extreme emotional distress over a previous event or experiences
    • •Reliving the event or experiences over in your head time and time again
    • •Avoiding the thought of the event or experiences and/or not talking about it
    • •Feeling “numb” as a result of the event or experiences
    • •Having difficulty concentrating
    • •Feeling guilty and/or shameful over the event or experiences
    • •Becoming irritable and/or agitated
    • •Insomnia or oversleeping

If you are a First Responder and experience one or more of these signs, then you may want to consider talking with a mental health professional about your concerns. PTSD is a common condition that unfortunately goes undiagnosed and ignored too often.

There are a number of ways to treat PTSD, and if you are struggling with the condition, a psychiatrist and/or therapist can help go over the best course of treatment for you. Some of the most widely known options for PTSD treatment include individual counseling, Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT), Prolonged Exposure therapy (PE), Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), and/or medications, such as antidepressants, anxiety medications, etc.

All in all, PTSD does not and should not go untreated. If PTSD is left untreated, the risks of a substance abuse problem and/or physical health condition are greater due to the distress.

Signs of Alcoholism & Drug Addiction in First Responders

It’s not unusual for First Responders to suffer from alcoholism and/or drug addiction and many, though not all, suffer from a co-occurring disorder like PTSD, depression, anxiety, etc. Knowing the signs of substance abuse is critical for addressing the problem early.

Here are some major signs of a substance abuse problem:

        • •Bloodshot eyes and/or dilated or tiny pupils
        • •Significant weight loss and/or gain
        • •Insomnia and/or oversleeping
        • •Unusual and/or secretive behavior
        • •Slurred speech
        • •Depression and/or anxiety
        • •Loss of interest in previously enjoyable activities
        • •Bottles and/or drug paraphernalia
        • •Legal trouble, like DUIs and possession charges

Displaying some or all of these signs of substance abuse could mean you have a problem. It’s important to reach out for support and address the true nature of the substance use. If you know that you have become physically and/or psychologically dependent on alcohol and/or other drugs, then you will need a medical detox and inpatient rehab to completely get off all substances and learn healthier coping mechanisms to replace substance use.

There should be no shame in suffering from any type of mental health condition and/or substance use disorder. The reality is that these are illnesses and like any other medical condition, they require treatment for the best possible outcome.

Loved One of First Responder with Substance Use Disorder

If you are a loved one of a First Responder struggling with PTSD, alcoholism, and/or drug addiction, then there are a number of actions you can take to support your loved one. You can approach your loved one and let them know that you are concerned for their well-being. Make sure that you listen to your loved one and try to hear them out. If you notice your loved one rejecting help for their substance abuse problem and/or co-occurring disorder, then you may need to intervene with the help of other close relatives and/or friends. Be sure to encourage your loved one to reach out for professional help when necessary, such as through therapy and/or inpatient treatment.

Alcohol & Drug Addiction Treatment at The Watershed

The Watershed Addiction Treatment Programs has been committed to helping alcoholics and addicts for over 20 years, and we can help you too. As a leading dual diagnosis treatment center, The Watershed is able to not only treat substance use disorders but co-occurring disorders, like PTSD, as well.

If you are a First Responder in need of alcohol and/or drug addiction treatment, or the loved one of a First Responder with a substance use disorder, then call The Watershed’s 24-Hour Alcohol & Drug Addiction Crisis and Support Helpline for First Responders at 1-800-861-1768.

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