Substance Use Disorder and Depression in First Responders

Substance Use Disorder and Depression in First Responders

Every day, first responders risk their lives to protect us. They sacrifice their lives and physical and mental health on a regular basis to assist strangers. They frequently experience traumas and unbelievable events. Moreover, They are more likely to develop mental health conditions, such as drug and alcohol addiction due to their ongoing exposure to hazardous and traumatic situations. First responder drug abuse is common due to the negative effects of these jobs, and it can affect people’s job performance in a variety of ways. While drug addiction can have a wide-ranging impact on a person’s life, it is treatable, and those in need can receive the guidance they require to recover. When first responders are struggling, they may turn to a variety of commonly abused substances. Many of these substances can be harmful to their bodies.

Why Do First Responders Start Abusing Drugs and Alcohol?

First responders’ drug abuse is common for several reasons. It can cause many negative effects on the lives and overall health of those who abuse substances. Stress is a common cause of drug abuse. Also, first responders may turn to drugs or alcohol to help them deal with the stress they encounter on the job every day. Leaning on drugs and alcohol over time can lead to dependence and the belief that one can’t function normally without them.


First responders may experience many traumatic events while they are working. These events can have many negative effects on their mental health. These effects can lead to binge drinking and drug addiction in first responders who don’t get the proper help or support to deal with the trauma they have gone through.


The stress that first responders face on a daily basis can lead to anxiety symptoms. Over time, first responders may turn to drugs or substances to help them stay calm or relaxed despite their anxiety about their jobs or the events they have witnessed.


A common problem for first responders is mild, moderate, or severe depression. While everyone experiences sadness or depression from time to time, a depression diagnosis may be made if these feelings persist and are accompanied by suicidal thoughts. Sometimes, a mental health condition like PTSD or addiction can show signs of depression.  Symptoms of depression include:


  • Feeling low or sad in the mood.
  • A lack of interest in activities you once enjoyed.
  • Appetite changes.
  • Sleep problems.
  • A lack of energy or increased fatigue.
  • Feeling worthless or guilty.
  • Problems thinking or making decisions.
  • Suicidal thoughts or behaviors.

Mental Health Conditions and Substance Use Disorders:

Substance use disorders and mental health problems are frequently linked. A first responder suffering from a mental health disorder, such as PTSD, will frequently turn to a substance for temporary relief or an outlet. A first responder who is struggling with a growing substance addiction may develop a mental health condition such as depression.

It makes sense that there would be a connection between mental health issues and substance use disorders since both are brain-based disorders. Co-occurring disorders are defined by mental health professionals as disorders of addiction and mental health that influence one another or coexist in some other way. A co-occurring condition affects 9.2 million adults in the US, according to SAMHSA estimates.

Substance Use Disorder and Depression in First Responders

Substance Use Disorder and Depression in First Responders

Signs of Drug and Alcohol Abuse in First Responders:

There are numerous common signs and symptoms of Substance use disorder in first responders to look for. Knowing the signs and symptoms of addiction is critical if you or someone you care about is suffering from it.

Early Abuse Signs:

  • Common early signs of first responder’s drug abuse are:
  • Drowsiness
  • Irrational behavior
  • Paranoia
  • Slurred speech
  • Sweating
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Sleeping at unusual times of the day

Severe Abuse Signs:

  • More severe signs of first responder’s drug abuse are as follows:2
  • Withdrawing from daily activities
  • Extreme anxiety or paranoia
  • Financial difficulties
  • Having trouble at work or not showing up to work
  • Insomnia

Commonly Abused Substances:

When first responders are stressed, they may turn to a variety of commonly abused substances. Many of these substances can be dangerous to their bodies, and first responders’ drug abuse can have a wide-ranging impact on their lives.


Although marijuana abuse can have a negative impact on someone’s life in many ways, it is legal for recreational and medical use in many parts of the world. It can lead to a psychological dependence that makes a person believe they can’t function normally without being high. Marijuana use among first responders is possible as a means of easing the daily stress of their jobs.

Read Also: Importance of Medical Detox in Recovery


Alcohol addiction is also prevalent among first responders. Many people who work in stressful jobs may turn to alcohol to cope and block out traumatic incidents that they may have witnessed or experienced throughout the day. Unfortunately, alcohol only hides the underlying issues and can even intensify them. Alcohol addiction is dangerous, particularly because it can have a long-term negative impact on a first responder’s life and overall job performance.


Benzodiazepine medications, such as Xanax and Valium, are frequently prescribed to help anxiety symptoms. First responders may experience anxiety symptoms as a result of the high levels of stress and risk that they face on a daily basis.

Treatment Options:

There are various treatment options available to first responders who need support for mental health issues and substance abuse concerns. These specific treatment programs are tailored directly to first responders. These include inpatient and outpatient programs as well as peer support and community services.


The first stage of treatment is typically detoxification. Someone who abruptly stops using an addictive substance is likely to experience withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms can have a variety of side effects, from unpleasant to potentially fatal. Medical professionals can guarantee that the detoxification process is as secure and comfortable as possible with the right support and treatment.

Crestone Detox is a well-known detox center that provides a variety of treatment program aimed at recovering from substance abuse, mental health issues, and other issues. Our primary mission is to provide a clear path to a life of healing and restoration. We provide renowned clinical care for addiction and have the professional expertise to guide you to long-term sobriety.


No comment yet.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *