Tag Archives: uniformed services

How Can I Support My Firefighting Spouse During Their Time In Rehab for Uniformed Services?

As the spouse of a firefighter, you’ve learned how to accept the risks that come with your loved one’s position in the uniformed services. While you’ve always known that an injury on the job was possible, you might not have been prepared for your spouse developing an addiction. Unfortunately, no one is immune to addiction, and your loved one may have started using drugs or alcohol as a way to cope with their emotions after spending long hours on duty. Now that they’ve decided to get help, you can use these strategies to show them support as they work through their time in a rehab program.

Make Plans to Handle Household Duties

Once your spouse enters rehab, they need to be able to dedicate the majority of their attention to their recovery. Ideally, this is a time when stress should be kept to a minimum so that your loved one can begin to heal the underlying issues that drive their cravings for drugs and alcohol. Although it will be hard to have your spouse away from home for more than their normal work schedule, you can be confident that this decision is one that will lead to more quality time together in the future.

You can start showing support right now by making sure that you have plans in place to handle common household issues that may arise while your spouse is in rehab. For instance, you may need to arrange for a babysitter to watch your children while you attend therapy sessions together. Alternatively, you might just need to set up services to cover tasks that your spouse normally handled during their time off such as the lawn care or other types of household maintenance. Handling these things now help you to avoid experiencing problems that worry your spouse while they are in treatment, and your spouse will feel instantly supported by your take charge mindset that enables them to fully relax during the hardest parts of their rehab program.

Offer to Visit and Attend Family Therapy

People who enter the uniformed services tend to be very family oriented. For this reason, your spouse may be more concerned about missing out on family moments than anything else. One of the biggest ways that you can support your loved one is by offering to visit them in rehab and attend therapy sessions together. If your loved one plans to attend a rehab center far away from your home, then make arrangements for at least one long-distance visit that gives them something to look forward to and both of you a chance to rebuild your lives together with sobriety as a main focus. You can also take advantage of phone calls and sending letters to give your spouse a much-needed mental boost when they seem in need of support.

In family therapy, you have the opportunity to learn valuable skills that help your spouse stay sober after they get back home. For instance, you can talk about these topics in your family and group therapy sessions that apply to anyone who works in uniformed services.

  • Managing stress
  • Dealing with role conflicts
  • Overcoming grief and loss
  • Using positive communication

Although talking about some of these topics is difficult at first, you’ll discover that opening up brings new life to your marriage that helps your spouse avoid triggers that interfere with their sobriety.

Learn About How to Help Their Long-Term Recovery

Firefighters face a higher risk of relapse compared to other members of the population because of their high stress working conditions. Once your spouse finishes their rehab program and begins to go back to work, you need to be alert for signs that they may be heading toward a relapse. For example, your spouse may be more likely to experience a relapse after fighting a particularly traumatic fire such as one that results in a significant loss of life. While your spouse is in rehab, use the time to learn strategies to help them through these types of stressful events such as encouraging them to continue to go to counseling.

Firefighters also benefit from continuous care on an outpatient basis since they may only be able to take a short period of time off of work for their initial treatment. Before your spouse comes home, talk to them about their options for continuing to work through their recovery once they return to work. Talking to a counselor as they reenter their normal schedule allows them to deal with issues as they arise so that they do not build up and lead to a relapse.

Is your spouse ready to enter a rehab program that is designed to fit the needs of firefighters? Give us a call today at 800-737-0933 to find out how you can start showing support that helps them get the most out of their addiction treatment.

Why Uniformed Services Personnel Should Go To A Rehab That Has A Specific Program Designed For Them

The life of a person in uniform is often one of boring routines mixed with times of abject terror. Sometimes the terrifying times stretch out longer and longer and in the back of their mind, the uniformed person is dreaming of being bored just for another day, even an another hour. Whether they are EMTs, policemen, military personnel or firefighters, the job can become such a contrast of mundane and danger that they start looking to drugs and alcohol just to start coping. When their addiction reaches a critical level and they need to seek treatment, it is better if the program is geared specifically for their needs. The rehab program that a uniformed person goes to must understand not only the addiction itself but the underlying problems that led them to start abusing in the first place. If those issues are not addressed during treatment they are not likely to be addressed at all and there will be a higher risk of relapse.

The Problems Faced by Uniformed Workers

Danger is just another part of the job for police officers, the military and firefighters. Even paramedics can be attacked on the job and many are facing the additional stress of drug overdoses. Anyone who puts on a badge or a uniform faces problems that can include:

  • Depression
  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Survivor’s guilt
  • Insomnia

It all goes back to the stress of their job. They may see people they know be killed. They may run in to a burning building but fail to rescue a family, lose a coworker and then wonder why they were spared. Every day they leave their homes and family and wonder if they will come home. Every night they try to forget what they spent their day doing but the memories keep coming back.

Job Specific Treatment

The military has its own rules about addiction and treatment. The benefit is the sense of shared experience. It is hard to talk about your time in a foreign country, in an active danger situation with someone who has never had a similar experience at all. The same can be said for any of the uniformed services personnel; if there is no shared experience it is hard to get them to open up. They keep things inside. They may pretend in front of friends and family that everything is okay. They may even be doing their drinking and/or drug use in complete secrecy. Until everything starts to unravel the family may believe them.

The fear that others in your unit or department will start second-guessing everything is also another thing that must be addressed especially if the person will be returning after they complete treatment. There may be worry that recent events will be blamed on drug use. That thought probably is one that plagues the mind as well.

Returning to Duty With a Plan

During treatment, the uniformed personnel may need to address whether they will be coming back to duty, what type of duty they will be allowed to return to (if at all) and where they will be going. Because every department and the military have such varied policies it is impossible to know what is likely to happen but it is important that a plan be put into place. There will probably be required meetings and drug testing. The types of duty may be strictly limited and may be different from what the person performed before entering rehab. This may be to help lessen stress on the person especially at first but it may also be for the benefit of others that they will be working with.

It may also be important for the person to have a point of contact person that they can turn to for days when they can’t cope with their stresses or for days when they feel like they are going to relapse. This is a good time for others in the department to step up and become secondary support systems as well.

It is important that people remember that their uniform is not magic protection against stress and worry. They are still humans with fears and stress that sometimes become way too much to handle. Seeking treatment can help them get back to the person they were hoping to be when they put the uniform on in the first place.

If you are ready to seek treatment for your own addiction problem, give us a call at 800-737-0933 right away.

Uniformed Services

Why Do Police Officers and Firefighters Face Addiction Issues So Often?

Addiction does not discriminate. Anyone can become afflicted with the disease of addiction regardless of his or her income, education level, race, religion, etc. People’s professions dot not make them immune from addiction, even if their profession is a police officer or a firefighter.

You may consider it ironic for a police officer or a firefighter to face addiction issues. However, as the addiction rates of the general population have surged in recent years, the addiction rates among police officers and firefighters have surged in proportion. The Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that 806,400 law enforcement workers suffer from addiction. A study done in 2012 showed that 56 percent of firefighters were binge-drinkers. There are a variety of factors behind the prevalence of addiction in police officers and firefighters.

  • Stress

Police officers and firefighters have very high-stress jobs. The shifts are long, and the work is physically taxing and mentally taxing. The hours are not limited to nine to five on weekdays. Police officers and firefighters have to work late night shifts, overnight shifts, weekend shifts, and holiday shifts, so they are given little time for family, recreation, and decompression.

  • Traumatic Experiences on the Job

Police officers and firefighters are bombarded with violence on a constant basis. Their genuine feelings regarding these traumatic experiences often go unexpressed. Family and friends often do not want to listen to a police officer and firefighter talk about the details of his or her job. Police officers and firefighters do not get the opportunity to support their fellow workers due to confidentiality policies prohibiting them from discussing cases. Often, police officers and firefighters detach from all emotions as a survival mechanism, and using substances are a method to make that possible.

  • Mental Health Disorders

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), anxiety, and depression tend to be prevalent among police officers and firefighters. These mental health disorders tend to go untreated among police officers and firefighters due to the stigma surrounding mental health disorders in the United States and the profession. Using alcohol or drugs is a way for them to self-medicate these undiagnosed and untreated disorders.

There is Hope for Police Officers and Firefighters

Police officers and firefighters are often hesitant to seek help for their addictions for several reasons.

  • Stigma surrounding substance abuse in their profession
  • Denial, thinking “I am not like those people I arrest” “I’m a police officer or a firefighter, so this cannot happen to me”
  • Stigma from their community because of their substance abuse and profession
  • Losing their Job

While they have legitimate reasons to be concerned, they should not make their concerns a barrier to getting into recovery. If their addiction goes untreated, it will only worsen and may lead to incarcerations, institutionalizations, or death. The benefit of recovery outweighs the stigma and potential losses. There are many resources police officers and firefighters can turn to for help.

  • Alcoholic’s Anonymous (AA) and Narcotic’s Anonymous (NA)
  • Intensive-Outpatient (IOP)
  • Employee Assistance Programs
  • Psychologist or a Psychiatrist
  • Inpatient Treatment
  • Inpatient Detox
  • Family and/or Friend Support

If you or someone you know is a police officer or firefighter who is suffering from addiction, seek help or encourage him or her to seek the help he or she needs. It will be beneficial in the long-term. Call Genesis House today 800-737-0933