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Addiction Treatment for First Responders

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First responders are those who rush into harm’s way to save others. They are the ones we rely on when we experience accidents, fires, or other disasters. They put their lives on the line every day to keep us safe. Given the high-stress nature of their jobs, it’s not surprising that first responders are at a higher risk for developing addiction and mental health disorders. According to a study by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 11% of first responders meet the criteria for having an alcohol use disorder, and 18% have symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). 

Addiction treatment programmes for first responders

Many addiction treatment programs offer specialised services for first responders. These programs understand the unique challenges that first responders face and are better equipped to address their needs. Some of the specialized services that may be offered include:

  • Trauma-informed care. First responders are often exposed to traumatic events, which can lead to posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Many addiction treatment programs for first responders offer trauma-informed care, which is designed to help patients deal with their trauma in a healthy way.
  • Peer support. First responders often feel isolated because of the nature of their work. Addiction treatment programmes that offer peer support give first responders the opportunity to connect with others who understand what they are going through. This can be an important part of recovery.
  • Family support. First responders’ families also suffer when one of their loved ones has an addiction. Many addiction treatment programmes offer family counselling and support groups so that families can heal along with the patient. 

First responder addiction statistics

There is no denying that addiction is a problem among first responders. One study found that 21% of firefighters met the criteria for having an alcohol use disorder, while another study found that 19% of police officers met the criteria for having an alcohol use disorder. Drug use is also prevalent among first responders; one study found that 16% of firefighters and 14% of police officers used illicit drugs in the past year. 

The good news is that first responder are more likely to seek help for their addiction than the general population. A study of firefighters found that 70% of those with an alcohol problem had sought help, while another study found that 80% of police officers with an alcohol problem had sought help. 

While the rates of addiction and mental health disorders among first responders are higher than the general population, these disorders are often left untreated. This is due in part to the culture of first responders, which stigmatises mental health issues and encourages self-reliance. Seeking help for addiction or mental health issues is seen as a sign of weakness. As a result, many first responders struggle in silence. 

The Good news is that there is help available for first responders struggling with addiction and mental health disorders. A number of treatment facilities offer programs specifically designed for first responders. These programs take into account the unique challenges faced by first responders and provide them with the support they need to recover. 

If you are a first responder struggling with addiction or a mental health disorder, know that you are not alone. There is help available, and treatment can make a difference. If you are ready to take the first step on your journey to recovery, please contact us today. 

Addiction and mental health disorders are common among first responders, but these disorders often go untreated. This is due in part to the culture of first responders, which stigmatizes mental health issues and encourages self-reliance. However, there is help available for those who need addiction treatment for first responders. A number of treatment facilities offer programs specifically designed for first responders. If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction or a mental health disorder, please reach out for help.


Robert Haynes did his degree in psychology at the University of Hertfordshire. He is interested in mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.

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