First responders run toward events that many of us would prefer to run away from. Law enforcement officers head toward domestic disputes, hostage situations, and homicides. Firefighters head toward burning buildings. Military personnel leave the safety of their country and family to travel thousands of miles where armed conflict threatens the lives of innocent humans.
Contrary to popular belief, first responders aren’t superheroes. They’re simply brave, confident people who have received extensive training that helps them to remain calm in situations that would cripple many civilians. Called “critical incidents” these events aren’t without their own negative impact, however. Just because a first responder returns home with their physical person in-tact doesn’t eliminate the possibility that their experienced have injured their mental and emotional selves.
In cases where proper counseling or peer support services aren’t available for these traumatized first responders, many turn to substance abuse to numb the pain.
Risks Of Addiction More Pronounced Among First Responders
First responders often experience humanity at its worst. It’s very common for first responders to suffer from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a result of the things they see or are subjected to on the job. Confronted with extreme stress that they can’t really talk about with their friends or family members, first responders often internalize this trauma, seeking relief wherever they can find it. Far too often, this relief is found in a bottle of alcohol or a controlled substance.
Although mental health resources and peer support programs are becoming more popular among first responder communities, there is still a lot of hesitation when it comes to asking for or utilizing these resources. Alcohol and/or drugs are a much more “socially acceptable” among first responder communities, which are characterized by fierce independence and a “superhero” complex.
“Alcohol seems to be the more widely abused substance, perhaps due to it being a more socially ‘acceptable’ substance. No one questions having an occasional drink but if it becomes a necessity for coping, then it becomes a serious problem. Access to narcotics can be a danger for those in EMS and law enforcement. EMS providers are knowledgeable on health issues and may feel they can ‘control’ their drug use,” explains Station House Retreat.
Our Peer Support Training And Development Courses Can Help
Peer support training and development courses are the key to breaking this vicious cycle of trauma and substance abuse. Through regular counseling, critical incident debriefings, and the bridge to professional help, peer support specialists are literally saving lives in the first responder industries. These specialists can only be effective if they receive the proper first responder and leadership training. That’s what we provide here at Peer Support Central.
Through our affordable and easy-to-access online courses, we make it possible for peer support specialists to take their training and development to the next level. With our help, you can be a true leader for your peers, educating them on the importance of mental health care as well as tearing down the stigma associated with seeking help for PTSD.