Everyone thinks of firefighters as heroes - always willing to put out a fire wherever, whenever. What many people don't realize is that firefighters have very stressful jobs. Because of that, they have very high rates of alcohol addiction. Here, we'll talk about the reasons why firefighters become addicted to alcohol, and to get help for firefighters with alcohol abuse.
Why do firefighters become addicted to alcohol?
There are many reasons fire fighters become addicted to alcohol
Lack of sleep - Firefighters may have to get up in the middle of the night to answer a call, which means they may get little sleep. Calls can last several hours at a time, depending on the size of the fire. The lack of sleep can lead to mental illness, which then can lead to addiction to alcohol.
Strange work hours - Because of the nature of their jobs, firefighters work strange hours. Fire fighting is always there - they have to be willing to answer a call at any time of the day or night. Some shifts can end up being 24 hours long, depending on how bad the call is or if they have to answer several calls in a row.
Socializing with other fire fighters - People often socialize after work at pubs or restaurants, and the same is true for firefighters. They need to socialize after work and talk about the previous shift and what happened during it.
Stress or PTSD - Many people don't realize that fire fighters have very stressful jobs. Fire fighting has been ranked as the second most stressful job in the United States; the only thing considered to be more stressful is being in the military. Because of this, many fire fighters suffer from PTSD. The symptoms can be difficult for them to deal with on their own so they may turn to alcohol as a way to cope.
Injuries while working - Fire fighters jobs are physically demanding. Many injuries end up being minor, but even with minor injuries, doctors may prescribe opioid medication. Some fire fighters end up addicted to the medication, which makes their alcohol abuse worse.
Too much time off. - Because of their strange schedules, firefighters may go for long stretches with nothing to do. All this time off can lead to boredom, which can lead to firefighters becoming addicted to alcohol if they don't find a constructive way to fill the void.
What are the signs a fire fighter is addicted to alcohol?
- Taking pain medications for an injury even after the pain is gone.
- Becoming defensive or aggressive if someone asks them about their use of pain medications.
- Needing to keep alcohol abuse a secret.
- Feeling unable to think rationally in dangerous situations.
- Focusing more on- caring for themselves than caring for others.
- Lying about their alcohol abuse to others.
- Not caring as much about your hygiene.
- Severe weight loss or gain.
How can I help a fire fighter who has become addicted to alcohol?
If you've tried to talk to them about their addiction and they've become hostile, you may want to consider an intervention. Many drug and rehab services offer intervention services. They allow you to confront your family member about their problem and identify some of the issues in your own life that might be enabling the addict. Interventions have a very high success rate.
These are some of the reasons fire fighters become addicted to alcohol, the signs of alcohol addiction in fire fighters, and how to get help for firefighters with alcohol abuse. If you know a firefighter who might need help with alcohol abuse, contact us to find out what your options are about how to help them with it.