Why This Population is at Risk
Emergency first responders are always ready to provide immediate care, support and medical assistance to those in need. They are heroes to society, though their services are sometimes taken for granted.
While we may see happy stories on social media of a firefighter rescuing a puppy or a police officer assisting a homeless person, the reality is that first responders are frequently exposed to devastating, life-threatening situations. They also work long hours in stressful conditions, which takes a toll on their mental and physical health.
According to data from SAMHSA, 30 percent of first responders develop behavioral health conditions while working on the job such as depression, anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Even though first responders are familiar with mental health treatment services for others, there is a stigma within their own work culture.
A common fear is that if a first responder admits their problem, no one will think they’re strong enough to do their job. But addiction is not about being strong or weak. It is a compulsive brain disease that requires intervention and treatment. If first responders don’t get help, they may turn to substance abuse as a means of relief, which can put themselves and others at risk.