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professional addiction for law enforcement, firefighters, first responders, and military

Drug and alcohol addiction affects law enforcement, firefighters, military members, and first responders all throughout the United States.  The daily stress and trauma that many of these professionals deal with do increase their chances of developing substance abuse problems. Even with the specialty training and support network, the exposure to horrible images, destruction, violence, injury, and death takes a toll physically and psychologically.  Per the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, career firefighters reported higher levels of alcohol use and PTSD, and 50% of male firefighters struggled with binge drinking or heavy alcohol use. Police officers are also at an increased risk for addiction, because of the dangerous nature of their job.  Three-fourths of officers in the country have reported experiencing a traumatic event, but less than half talked to someone about it.  

Moreover, around half the officers reported knowing someone in law enforcement who drastically changed after experiencing a traumatic event.  Half the officers surveyed also knew someone in their agency or another agency who had committed suicide. Alcohol and drug abuse are problematic for many police officers.  Specifically, binge drinking and self-medication with prescription drugs occurs frequently. Many of these problems occur after a significant disaster or event in the community or throughout the nation.  Disaster relief and response do take a toll on the police, first responders, and firefighters. Self-medication with drugs and alcohol becomes a solution to cope with the stress, and physical or emotional pain attached to the incident.

United States Military Members Affected by Drug Addiction 

Members of the armed forces in the country are not immune to the problems of substance abuse and addiction.  Although illicit drug use is lower among military personnel than among civilians, heavy alcohol and prescription-drug  use is a problem. The stress of deployment during wartime along with the unique culture of the military does contribute to substance abuse.  For example, those with multiple deployments and combat exposure are at a greater risk of developing substance use problems. Alcohol abuse in the military is common, specifically binge drinking, especially during downtime.  Many of the problems that active-duty service members face lead to prescription-drug use, because of a prescription given to treat a problem.


How effective is family intervention for military and first-responders?

Family intervention can be done for anyone working within these professions, and it is never too late to organize an intervention.  The risk for extreme substance abuse and suicide is high and Newman Interventions has helped many families with loved ones who work within these professions.  There is often a stigma attached to being found out that you have a problem. However, this is changing and more services are providing internal resources to help those in need.  Veterans Affairs and private organizations that support the American Military are an excellent place to turn. These private organizations also support law enforcement and first responders.  Newman Interventions can help your family get connected with these organizations and arrange suitable treatment.  

The intervention process is the same; it is helping your loved one understand the importance of seeking out help for their addiction.  There are many drug and alcohol treatment programs in the country that work specifically with first responders, police officers and members of the military.  These types of facilities take a unique approach and tailor programs to meet the needs of the person attending. People working within these professionals face specific problems and unique situations.  Our intervention program will also offer support to the family before, during, and after the intervention. Addiction regardless of how mild or severe it is does take a toll on the family and anyone else connected to the addict.  Finding the proper treatment is essential, and police officers, members of the military, and first responders are not immune to the problems of addiction.  


Works Cited

SAMHSA, First Responders Behavioral Health Concerns, Emergency Response, and Trauma – Sept 28/19

National Institute on Drug Abuse, Substance Abuse in the Military – Sept 28/19


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