This Is Not a Drill: 4 Reasons Treatment Can’t Wait

Author: IAFF Center of Excellence Staff

November 8, 2017

Whether you’re a fire fighter or paramedic, you’re probably used to putting yourself last while on the job, but that doesn’t mean your health needs to come last when you go home for the day.

Drug and alcohol addiction can be dangerous and even fatal for you and anyone else, prompting the need for immediate treatment. You may think you have your substance use under control or that it’s not bad enough to seek rehabilitation, but it’s never too early to seek help. If you’re struggling with drug or alcohol abuse or addiction, there’s no better time than now to get treatment.

Waiting to get help could wreak havoc on your life and the lives of those around you.

1. Putting lives at risk, including your own.

Every day you abuse drugs or alcohol is another day your health and life are in danger. Alcohol addiction can cause various health problems, including heart disease, pancreatitis, and cirrhosis of the liver, while addiction to certain drugs (cocaine, meth, heroin, etc.) can cause brain damage. All of these conditions can be fatal.

Other people can also be affected. If you’re under the influence while responding to a call, distorted vision, impaired judgment, decreased perception, and slowed reaction time are just some of the ways you put your crew and fellow citizens at tremendous risk. Furthermore, pedestrians, drivers on the road, and even your own family can be affected, as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) revealed in recent years.

  • Nearly 1.1 million drivers were arrested for driving under the influence of narcotic drugs or alcohol in 2015.
  • In 2013, 1,149 children 14 and younger were killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes. Two-hundred of those fatalities occurred in alcohol-impaired crashes.
  • More than 22 percent of drivers tested positive for prescription, over-the-counter, or illegal drugs in blood or oral fluid tests in 2013.

2. Making treatment more rigorous down the road.

There are typically two forms of drug rehab: inpatient and outpatient, both of which are available at the IAFF Center of Excellence. When you arrive at our center, you’ll be able to determine the level of therapy you need through a thorough medical exam. Inpatient drug rehab may be the best option for some, but it may also be the most time consuming, expensive and disruptive to your life. Outside of inpatient care, outpatient treatment in a non-restrictive setting may be sufficient to meet your needs. With this option, fewer treatments are required, and you won’t have to stay at the rehab facility.

3. Negatively impacting your finances and relationships.

Being addicted to drugs or alcohol typically involves spending a lot of time and money on the substance. And the more money that goes toward addiction, the less it goes toward life’s necessities, including family finances. If one of the reasons you’re putting off treatment involves cost, consider that your addiction could actually end up costing you more than treatment.

Relationships are another factor to keep in mind. Many people who abuse drugs and alcohol feel the need to hide their use from others, which means less time with friends and family. Even if you make an effort to spend quality time with your loved ones, your relationships can still be affected by your condition. In some instances, friends and family cut all ties from a loved one struggling with drugs or alcohol until they seek help.

4. Increasing your chances of developing mental problems.

Studies show a strong correlation between substance abuse and mental health issues, with several indicating that abuse can lead to mental illness. One of the primary reasons involves the effects on the brain. Drug use can alter certain areas of the brain, increasing the chances of developing mental health issues such as depression, anxiety and schizophrenia (National Institute on Drug Abuse). In addition to altering the brain, untreated addiction often causes severe stress in one’s social, financial, and work life. The helplessness, isolation, and loss of control experienced by the individual can lead to serious mental health problems, in their own right.

If you’ve been thinking about treatment for drug or alcohol abuse, don’t put it off another day. Tomorrow might be too late. Call the IAFF Center of Excellence today to speak with someone who understands the struggles you’re facing and can lead you down the road to recovery.

Medical Disclaimer: The IAFF Center of Excellence aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.

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