Opiate Abuse

What is now recognized as a national crisis, opiate abuse is prominent throughout the country and can take hold of anyone regardless of their profession. This includes law enforcement, EMTs, firefighters, dispatch, corrections and any first responder or public safety professional, as opiates can act as an easy escape from the high-risk nature of these professions. The stress of being accountable for others in emergencies isn’t easy to manage on a daily basis, with the potential to cause inner turmoil that’s often difficult to acknowledge. It’s estimated that 30 percent of first responders develop some form of mental health problem, including depression, anxiety or PTSD, so the need to disassociate through the use of opiates is common.

At First Responder Wellness, we understand the life-threatening work first responders are exposed to day-in and day-out. Our team of culturally competent clinicians, some of who are former first responders, have developed programs geared specifically towards your needs and struggles. Our programs include a number of therapies that address not only the cycle of addiction but also the underlying reasons (which in many cases is post-traumatic stress) that have led you here. In any case, whether you’ve struggled with a prescribed opioid or heroin, we’re here to help you rediscover who you are and to provide you with the tools needed to reclaim your sobriety.

What is Opiate Abuse?

Opiates include a number of drugs, both prescription medications and street drugs, that are derived from the opium poppy. This includes codeine, hydrocodone, oxycodone and heroin. Opiate abuse typically begins with an opioid prescription because opiates are so readily dispersed at the advice of medical professionals. In fact, it’s reported that nearly 80 percent of heroin users first began with an opiate prescription before turning to the drug due to factors such as cost, tolerance and availability. With the dangers imposed on first responders, heroin or opioid addiction often take hold in a similar way, beginning with a prescription following an injury or other event. Since the 1990s, with the increased availability of prescribed opioids, abuse has been on a steady rise and since 2010, heroin abuse has particularly exploded.

How Do I Know If I Need Help?

Opiates work by binding to opioid receptors in the brain and spinal cord. By binding to these receptors, they release large amounts of dopamine and prevent pain signals, which causes a numbing effect. This numbness produces not only a physiological effect but also an emotional effect, often resulting in dependency and progressing to addiction. This can negatively impact one’s work life, relationships with friends and family, overall health and more, leading to a negative outlook on life as addiction feels like falling into a black hole with no way out. Signs of opiate abuse include:

  • Behavioral or psychological changes
  • A lack of motivation
  • Pinpoint pupils
  • Persistent drowsiness or “nodding out”
  • Increased risk of depression
  • Nausea and constipation
  • Financial troubles
  • Skin rashes and infections
  • Decreased respiration
  • Flu-like withdrawal symptoms

Due to the powerful effects of opiates, it’s easy to fall victim to them. Once one has become addicted to opiates, escaping their grips is difficult due to withdrawal symptoms and can negatively affect one’s performance. This is particularly worrisome for first responders, as their duty is to ensure the safety of others. When a first responder puts their own life at risk, they’re effectively putting the lives of those they serve and those they work with at risk. If you’re experiencing problems with an opioid of any form, you need to seek out professional treatment that will guide you back to a stable state of mind.

Opiate Abuse Treatment at First Responders Wellness

At First Responder Wellness, we know the difficulty of overcoming any form of addiction. We especially empathize with first responders who struggle with a substance abuse problem because many of us were once there. Although law enforcement, EMTs, firefighters, dispatch and corrections as well as other first responders and public safety professionals maintain a persona of strength and endurance, they can experience difficulty in coping with the unique traumas they face. Many who struggle with post traumatic stress disorder use opiates in some form to cope. Our programs are designed to address the physical, emotional and mental health needs of first responders by providing comprehensive care and treatments that include:

  • Integrated mental health care
  • Evidence-based psychotherapies (CBT, EMDR, etc.)
  • Mindfulness and meditation
  • Stress management and teaching coping skills
  • Chemical dependency education
  • Holistic treatments
  • 12-step methodology
  • Individual and group counseling
  • Reintegration process
  • Medication-assisted treatment

Our diverse set of therapies can address a variety of concerns and help each client take steps back toward their sober self. Depending on individual needs, we will gauge which therapies are best suited for you and which will have a lasting impact. It is in our best interest to ensure that you smoothly transition back to a stable life, with stronger relationships, more confidence in working environments and an improved outlook on life.

First Responder Wellness

With its increased availability and its disposition to service pain, it’s clear why opiate abuse has developed into the crisis it is today. There’s no reason to be ashamed if you are struggling. And there’s no reason to continue waiting for help. The duty of a first responder is to protect and serve. Here at First Responder Wellness, we’re here to protect and serve those that put their life on the line every day by averting them from the grips of addiction and mental health. If you or a loved one are struggling with opiate addiction, contact or call us today at 888-443-4898 to learn more about the programs we offer and how they can help.