For first responders, job-related stress and strain can be off the charts. Police, fire and EMS personnel often see and do things most people cannot imagine. Repeatedly encountering dangerous situations can lead to PTSD, depression and eventually in some cases addictive behaviors and suicide.
Knowing when to seek help can be a difficult step in the healing process. While some first responders might feel they require treatment to resolve their issues, others might be in denial or unable to identify their own needs. Friends and family members often seek out advice and treatment before the affected officer or firefighter can truly confront their issues.
And lastly, here are some signs and symptoms of alcohol or drug dependence that first responders and family members should look out for when deciding to seek treatment:
Resources are available for those who may be suffering and not know where to turn for help. Admitting there may be an issue is the first step. Talking to a supervisor or chaplain about these issues can also facilitate the healing process. To address the growing need for behavioral health support and resources, American Addiction Centers has created a program aimed at helping law enforcement officers and their families. This dedicated hotline is available at 1.855.99.POLICE (765423). Additionally, the National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) has launched Share the Load™, a support program for firefighters and EMS. As part of that program, the NVFC has partnered with American Addiction Centers to create the Fire/EMS Helpline, a free, confidential helpline available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to assist firefighters, EMTs and their families. Callers receive compassionate, non-judgmental support for a variety of behavioral health issues, such as PTSD, addiction, depression, suicide prevention, stress or anxiety, critical incidents, relationship issues, or other issues affecting their work or personal life. The helpline is available at 1-888-731-FIRE (3473). Help is just a phone call away.