First Responders Dealing with Mental Health & Addiction – Treatment

By Nick Roshdieh – First Responder & Family Wellness

First responders experience daily stress and trauma, which can increase their chances of developing an addiction or mental health disorder. Even with the specialty training they receive, the constant exposure to horrible images of destruction, fire, injuries, violence and death can take its toll.

While they bear the immense responsibility of saving lives, at times, they might be too late. Sometimes death has already occurred, as in the case of a reported homicide. Besides law enforcement, other first responders include paramedics and firefighters, combat veterans, park rangers, corrections officers, emergency medical technicians (EMT’s), dispatchers and other rescue workers.

Often, the images and situations they encounter during their day-to-day jobs can lead to an array of trauma related disorders including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), acute stress disorder and other co-occurring disorders.

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What is “CBT” & How Does It Help the First Responder?

By Shannon Clairemont – First Responder & Family Wellness

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) encourages first responders in recovery treatment to recognize and stop negative patterns of thinking and behavior. Since our cognition affects our well-being, changing harmful thought patterns is essential. The essence of CBT is an assumption that a first responders mood is directly related to his or her patterns of thought. For example, CBT can help first responders be aware of the stressors, situations, and feelings that lead to substance misuse so that the one can avoid them or act differently when they occur. Negative, dysfunctional thinking affects a person’s mood, behavior, self-worth, and even physical state. The goal of CBT is to help first responders learn to recognize negative patterns of thought, evaluate their validity, and replace them with healthier ways of thinking.

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Turn a Blind Eye or Fire the First Responder???

By Vanessa Stapleton – President Armor Up West Virginia

Why is it that when a first responder is taken over by trauma, PTSD, addiction, or otherwise, the choice becomes to either turn a blind eye or end their career? Why are those the only options? Listen carefully, those are NOT the only options. Who decided those were the only avenues to take? Why do we fire them and send them spiraling further into a disaster that we created to begin with by not offering proper mental health treatment of those we have assigned to handle trauma every single day? Who decided that was acceptable?

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