Firefighters are among our society’s most revered public service workers. Not only are firefighters willing to rush into burning buildings, but they also serve the community by providing other lifesaving services such as performing CPR when they are the first responder. A firefighter might be viewed as a hero by the public, but there is often a dark side to all of their amazing accomplishments.
The same type of personality that makes someone willing to risk their lives to save others can sometimes come with traits that make a firefighter more prone to addiction. There aren’t necessarily more people with addictive personalities that are drawn to firefighting compared to other professions, but there are high addiction rates among firefighters that might be linked to the traits that come with this personality type.
You’ll sometimes hear about addictive personalities when you talk about drug and alcohol misuse. Technically, there isn’t one specific personality type that develops addictions. Instead, there are traits that sometimes point to a person’s likelihood of becoming addicted to drugs or alcohol. If you recognize these traits in yourself or someone else, then you may need to consider how they put people at a higher risk of developing an addiction.
•thrives on adrenaline
•has difficulty with self-regulation
•has obsessions or compulsions
If you notice, many of these traits are the same ones that help firefighters thrive in their jobs. To some degree, every firefighter needs to be fueled by the adrenaline rush that comes when they enter a risky situation. It is also important to understand that dealing with the stress of being in a high stakes career can lead to firefighters turning to drugs or alcohol to cope. A firefighter’s lifestyle isn’t easy. They often work several days at a time and have another several off of work. Their irregular schedule means that they could be called upon to wake up and rush out of bed to save someone’s life. Between a lack of sleep and being put into dangerous situations, it is normal for firefighters to feel overwhelmed. In fact, most firefighters will say that they love what the do, even when they are trying to muffle their emotions with drugs or alcohol.
How Can Firefighters Get Help With Addiction?
The reasons why a firefighter is more likely to develop an addiction range from having a need to numb their emotions to trying to socialize during their time off. Some firefighters binge drink on their days off because they have several free days in a row. Others may drink to address their loneliness or to try to forget about a traumatic event. Depending upon the culture in the firefighter’s workplace, there might even be a tendency to view drinking heavily as normal. Some firefighters might also be afraid to admit that they have a problem with addiction due to the stigma regarding mental health issues that exists in some places. One of the first things that you need to do for yourself or your loved one is make it clear that this is not a matter of will power. Addiction works by creating a physical and psychological dependency in the person’s body that is difficult to overcome without professional help. In fact, most people need to step out of their every day life for a brief period of time by going to rehab where they can begin their recovery without encountering large amounts of stress.
Choosing to continue to engage in drug or alcohol misuse exposes firefighters to increasingly dangerous situations. Since they need to be alert at all times, even a hangover can cause a firefighter to make a terrible mistake on the job. As upsetting as it may be to think that a firefighter can be more high risk for developing an addiction, there are a few things that work in their favor. Some of those same personality traits that are associated with an addictive personality can be used for the greater good. Firefighters with driven personalities often find that they can quickly adjust to their treatment program. Someone who is used to working hard and serving on a team will fit right into a drug rehab center where they can start learning how to manage their habits. Persistence, perseverance and resilience are all traits that firefighters are known to have, and each one of these can be used to their advantage.
Are you worried about a firefighter that you know who uses drugs or drinks too much? Give us a call at 833-610-1174. We can help them find a treatment program that meets their unique needs.