Destiny Recovery Centers

Impact of Addiction on First Responders

Impact of Addiction on First Responders

Impact of Addiction on First Responders

Addiction can take a significant toll on many aspects of your life. Some career paths and responsibilities may make the management of this disorder more difficult due to the potential stress involved. If you are a first responder with substance use disorder (SUD), you likely understand the toll a high-stress job can take on your addiction and recovery. Being aware of the impact that addiction can have on this career path can help you to find the best ways to manage the stress factors that arise with the job through recovery.

Initial Addiction

Many first responders find that they begin to use substances to cope with the stress of their work. When you are involved in high-stress situations, it can be difficult to care for yourself and maintain balance in your life.

Due to these high-stress levels, you may engage in substance use to help calm your nerves and process through the barriers of being a first responder. It is important to ensure you are separating work from your personal life and taking time to engage in self-care practices to avoid reaching a state of addiction yourself.

Impact of Both Sides

One of the most significant challenges that first responders with SUD face is the impact on both sides of the addiction epidemic. This means that they often encounter the hard truth of overdoses and how addiction affects the clientele they are working with, as well as managing the symptoms of addiction within themselves. These factors can be extremely challenging to balance, especially during the immediate stress of some of the situations you are encountering.


Not only is overdosing a potential personal concern, but it’s a concern for the clients you work with as well. When you are called as a first responder, there are likely many occasions where you are responding to the scene of an overdose. This can be hard to process for anyone but can be a major triggering point for you as you are dealing with the hardships of addiction yourself.

It is important to have coping skills to process these instances. Use your coping mechanisms during your response and after your shift to ensure you are not dwelling on the situation and worsening your addiction.

Effects of Addiction

Many of the responses you answer will relate to addiction in some form. With this job, you likely will learn about many aspects of addiction and how it can affect the lives of our people in different ways. This can be devastating knowledge to address, especially as you are managing your addictive tendencies yourself.

It can be easy to build up negative emotions towards each of these responses, dwelling on the hardships that addiction brings. These negative emotions may cause you more stress, creating a mind for addictive thoughts to thrive in.

Instead of dwelling on these hardships, use them as a learning opportunity. As you see the different aspects that can play a role in the onset or worsening of addiction, apply skills within your own life to stray away from these behaviors.

This mindset can be challenging to achieve, especially in the heat of the situation, but it can help to alleviate your stress when responding to calls related to addiction. As you view the result of the individuals with addiction that you treat, remind yourself of how things could end up for you if you do not seek help and learn to manage your addiction.

Resources for First Responders

Dealing with addiction while responding to crises, potentially involving the addiction of others, can be extremely challenging. Utilizing the following resources can help you manage the mental effects that this field of work may bring. Learn how to overcome the effects of addiction without your career interrupting your potential to recover.

Utilize Therapy Services

Our facility has a variety of therapeutic services for you to take advantage of and get help with your addiction as a first responder. At times, you may just need to process an occurrence or event you responded to. We are here to provide you with the support you need to overcome your profession’s hardships and help you gain the skills needed to avoid using substances as a form of coping with these hardships.

Department of Rehabilitation and Correction

The Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (DRC) is a department that works to help integrate individuals struggling with addiction or other hardships back into society. They provide educational opportunities, rehabilitation, treatment, and restorative justice programs.

By providing a safe and confidential environment,  you can seek the help you need without the fear of your addiction affecting your profession. This department values service, leadership, integrity, accountability, respect, trust, and collaboration. These values help to create a prime environment for seeking help as a first responder.

Addiction can take a toll on any profession or occupation but can be significantly stressful to manage for first responders. As a first responder, you likely are seeing the effects of addiction and overdose in action at times. These situations can be extremely triggering if you struggle with addiction yourself. Use each of these moments as a learning opportunity to help stray you away from this behavior. Work to develop coping mechanisms to handle these stressors without engaging in substance use. It is important to seek help if you find that you are struggling to manage your addiction as a first responder. To learn more about treatment and support options, reach out to Destiny Recovery Center at (909) 413-4304.