As a first responder, you’re exposed to stressful, disturbing, and harrowing situations on a regular basis. As the events, memories and reminders pile up over the years, it can become difficult to keep all of this trauma locked away and alcohol may become an escape that helps you numb or avoid your experiences. Among law enforcement officers, firefighters, paramedics, EMTs, corrections officers, and other first responders, this is a common scenario. In fact, it’s estimated that emergency personnel experience problems with alcohol abuse at twice the rate of the general population. This is closely linked with an increased susceptibility to mental health conditions such as PTSD, anxiety and depression, creating a complex relationship that is difficult to address without professional help.
At First Responder Wellness, we understand the unique challenges faced by the men and women who put their lives on the line to keep the public safe. Our programs are geared specifically for first responders and combine addiction treatment with mental health services to help clients understand their alcohol use and address their problems in a healthy way. Whether you binge drink on the weekends or can’t get through the day without alcohol, we’re here to help you rediscover who you are without drinking and achieve freedom from addiction.
What Is Alcohol Abuse?
Across the world, alcohol is a cultural staple. Some use it to relax and soothe their nerves, while others drink to celebrate and have a good time. Alcohol has also been used in religious ceremonies and social events for as long as we can remember. It’s such a normal part of daily life that it can be difficult to know if you’ve crossed the line from occasional enjoyment into the realm of abuse. Drinking habits and degrees of use differ among the 140 million people in the U.S. that consume alcohol, but problematic drinking occurs when you use alcohol to avoid your problems and cope with difficult feelings.
Anytime you drink more than you intended to or attempt to hide it is also a red flag, as is binge drinking and heavy use. Binge drinking is the consumption of five or more drinks in a single session, and heavy use is binge drinking more than five days out of the month. If your drinking reflects these behaviors and has begun to affect your life in negative ways, you may signal that you have a problem.
How do I know if I need help?
Alcohol abuse can quickly spiral out of control and wreak havoc on your health, career and personal relationships. Although it can sometimes be difficult to distinguish moderate drinking from addiction, if you’ve begun to question the drinking habits of yourself or someone you love there are some signs that often indicate alcohol abuse, such as:
- Frequent intoxication even at inappropriate times
- Inability to limit consumption after one or two drinks
- Isolation from friends and family to spend more time drinking
- Frequent binge drinking
- Intense cravings for alcohol
- Medical concerns due to drinking
- Financial or legal troubles as a result of alcohol use
- Presence of withdrawal symptoms
- Using alcohol to relieve stress or cope with problems
- Increased tolerance due to excessive consumption
Alcohol is very hard on the body, so lasting health problems such as liver damage, pancreatitis, stomach ulcers and cardiovascular disease are also a concern. With chronic use, the combination of short and long-term effects will negatively impact one’s perception, cognition and judgment as well. For first responders, this can be detrimental to their ability to perform their job well, putting themselves and others at risk. If you experience these and other problems due to your drinking but are still unable to quit, you will need professional help to avoid a dangerous situation and prevent further harm from occurring.
Alcohol Abuse Treatment at First Responder Wellness
At First Responder Wellness, we recognize the harmful effects alcohol can have on patients and their families. We also understand the unique challenges that first responders face and the role that alcohol plays in coping with the demands of the job. Our approach to recovery is geared specifically toward these concerns and utilizes a variety of proven psychotherapies, evidence-based treatments and one-on-one care to help uncover the root cause of problematic drinking behaviors so they can be effectively managed. Clients will also learn healthier coping skills and strategies for sober living that promote long-term recovery. Some of the treatments we use include:
- Individual and group therapy
- Effective psychotherapies (CBT, EMDR, etc.)
- Holistic treatments
- Experiential therapies
- 12-step integration
- Medication-assisted treatment
- Mindfulness and meditation
- Reintegration process
- Stress management and coping skills
- Mental health care
- Chemical dependency education
Since there is no “magic bullet” for treating addiction, our treatment plans are customized for each individual depending on their specific needs, goals and concerns. Our programs are also flexible and include transitional care, ensuring that when the time comes, you’re ready to return to your career and daily life, feeling confident in your ability to maintain your sobriety.