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Substance Use and job related stress

Sometimes First Responders see alcohol usage as a normal way to wind down after a stressful day.  Social drinking is perfectly acceptable.  It's when that drinking or other substance usage becomes a coping mechanism to deal with trauma and stress that it can become a problem.


Those diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder are 3 times more likely to abuse substances. Treatment for substance abuse with co-occurring illness is available.  We would be remiss if we didn't talk about this problem, because it can also lead from suicidal ideation to suicidal action because of lowered inhibitions.

Substance abuse and addiction is commonly connected to co-occurring disorders like PTSD, depression, and anxiety. Among people seeking treatment for PTSD are 14 times more likely to also be diagnosed with a substance abuse disorder (SUD). Attempting to self-medicate can be a cause to why many people with PTSD also abuse substance. The thought is that by abusing substances, a person with PTSD, will null or avoid PTSD symptoms. Those with PTSD with a SUD are more likely so abuse alcohol over drugs, such as cocaine. Research has found that service members and veterans that have heavy drinking tendencies are more likely to have PTSD, depression. War veterans with a PTSD diagnosis, who also drink alcohol, tend to be diagnosed with binge drinking.  The same is true with First Responders.

Someone misusing or abusing drugs can have the following signs and symptoms:

  • Being argumentative when asked about substance use.

  • Changes in spending habits and issues with finances.

  • Noticeable changes in behavior.

  • Decreased appetite and weight loss.

  • Lack of motivation and poor work performance.

  • Looking sick, such as bloodshot eyes and changes in skin tone.

find a meeting

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There are several nationally recognized substance abuse support groups.  


Celebrate Recovery is a Christ-centered, 12 step recovery program for anyone struggling with hurt, pain or addiction of any kind.

Alcoholics Anonymous is an international fellowship of men and women who have had a drinking problem. It is nonprofessional, self-supporting, multiracial, apolitical, and available almost everywhere. There are no age or education requirements. Membership is open to anyone who wants to do something about his or her drinking problem.

Narcotics Anonymous is a nonprofit fellowship or society of men and women for whom drugs had become a major problem. We are recovering addicts who meet regularly to help each other stay clean.

The Addiction Centers offers a wide array of services related to substance and addiction, which often go hand-in-hand.  They will help connect you to licensed professionals who work with insurance, and some can provide online sessions.

"Bicycle Health offers safe, confidential, and affordable Suboxone treatment for opioid use disorder. They combine buprenorphine/naloxone (Suboxone) treatment with behavioral health supports, including online support groups to provide a comprehensive and individually tailored treatment plan. It's unique in that it’s a telemedicine company, meaning they operate entirely online. Patients can track their symptoms and how they are feeling throughout the day."

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