Finding the Courage to Get Help

Author: IAFF Staff

March 22, 2018

Saying “I need help” isn’t easy, and for some — especially fire fighters and paramedics — it can feel impossible. But making this bold admission is the first step in getting treatment for an addiction or mental health disorder.

Despite the obstacles, it is possible to get help and live a better life. You already know you have courage — you wouldn’t be a fire fighter if you didn’t. Apply that courage in a way that involves helping yourself in addition to helping others.


These tips can help you find the strength you need to address your struggles with substance abuse or mental illness:

  • Recognize Your Need for Help: Acknowledging your struggle is the first brave step in getting help, and you can start by looking at your life. Has it changed in any negative ways as the result of a particular substance? How is your physical and mental health? Has it been deteriorating as a result of misusing drugs or alcohol, or from intrusive thoughts and memories? Once you can admit that you need help, your journey to recovery can begin.

  • Find Others Who Have Sought Help: You may think you’re alone in your struggle, but you’re not. Thousands of men and women in your position are battling the same challenges. Hearing stories from others can inspire you to get help so you can share your own story one day. The more you realize that others have walked in your boots, the easier it will be for you to take a step toward treatment.

  • Seek Support From Loved Ones: Think about a person you’d trust your life with. Maybe it’s your spouse, parent, sibling, co-worker or best friend. Whoever it is, consider sharing your struggles with them privately, and ask for their support. Tell them you know you need help and want to receive it. Make them your accountability partner … because it’s too easy to change your mind about getting help when no one knows you’re looking for it. But if your loved ones know, they can continue encouraging you to get the help you need and keep you committed to the journey.

  • Consider the Potential Losses: Not every fire fighter who struggles with addiction or PTSD gets help. For some, it took a divorce or the loss of their job, home or children for them to realize it. This doesn’t have to be your fate. Ask yourself some questions. Is your addiction or mental illness more important than your loved ones? Than your life? Than your health? Than your job? No one can force you to get help, but consider what’s at risk if you don’t.

Find the courage you already know is within you to come forward and get the help you need. The IAFF Center of Excellence was created by fire fighters, for fire fighters, so you won’t be alone. Give us a call today to let us know what you’re going through, and we’ll get you back on the right track.

We can help. Call 240-545-5141 or

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