Do you work in a field that adds stress to your life? If so, do you drink alcohol or use drugs in order to cope with your feelings about your work or the feelings employment experiences elicit? You may not know this, but using mind-altering substances to deal with life stressors can be a slippery slope to problems, notably that of use disorders.
In the United States, it is common practice for adults to have a few beers or a couple of glasses of wine after work. After all, it is within people’s rights to do so; however, for some individuals, the practice ends up exacerbating the negative feelings that one is trying to counter. Nowhere is this truer than people who work in fields that expose them to trauma.
It is not uncommon for people working in the fields of medicine, first response, and the military, to turn to alcohol and substance use to cope. Which makes sense, considering that people in those lines of work are more likely to confront psychiatric conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder or depression. Individuals facing such circumstances, typically rely on drink and drugs to mute or dull their symptoms; the practice regularly leads to a dual diagnosis.
First Responders Struggle With Mental Illness
Citing a University of Phoenix survey, the American Psychiatric Association points out that approximately 85 percent of first responders had experienced symptoms of mental illness; what’s more, some 34 percent of respondents report a mental disorder diagnosis, and:
- More than a quarter diagnosed with depression,
- one in 10 diagnosed with PTSD; and,
- 46 percent had experienced anxiety.
There is a significant body of evidence online and in research journals that indicate an increased likelihood of alcohol and substance use disorders among first responders. The reality is that when conditions like depression and PTSD are left untreated, many will resort to substance use as a coping mechanism. The practice doesn’t fix the problem; it makes it worse.
It’s vital that people working in fields that involve a high risk of trauma, and also misuse drugs and alcohol, seek treatment as a path to recovery. When addiction and co-occurring mental illnesses receive simultaneous treatment, long-term recovery is possible.
Help for Addiction and Trauma
At Hemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage Retreat, we offer a program that caters to the unique needs of individuals struggling with trauma. Our team of highly trained addiction professionals can help you or a loved one break the cycle of addiction and learn how to cope with the symptoms of co-occurring mental illness. Please contact us to receive a complimentary assessment and discuss treatment options.