Practical Help for PTSD

Author: IAFF Center of Excellence Staff

October 19, 2017

Being a fire fighter or paramedic is hard work — not just physically, but emotionally as well. When you carry the weight of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), perhaps compounded by a substance use disorder, it can feel like you’re fighting much more than fire. Over time, these issues can become unbearable, but you don’t have to suffer in silence. If you’re an IAFF member who needs help, you’re in the right place. Post-traumatic stress and addiction are treatable, and at the IAFF Center of Excellence, your recovery is possible. 


Pain Isn’t Permanent

When witnessing tragedy and trauma every day is an inherent part of your job, you can develop behavioral health issues, including post-traumatic stress. The stigma surrounding mental health issues may make you feel like speaking up isn’t an option, or that your condition is a life sentence. But neither is true. You’re not the first fire fighter to suffer from post-traumatic stress, and with the right care, you can heal from this affliction.  

During your stay at the IAFF Center of Excellence, you’ll meet with a therapist to unpack the root causes of your post-traumatic stress using specific evidence-based treatments proven to help fire fighters recover. Some of these treatments may include cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), which can help you address the vicious cycle of thoughts, feelings, and maladaptive behaviors that can keep you reliving your trauma. As you work with your counselor over several weeks, you may also try additional therapies, including eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) and pharmaceutical treatment, if deemed necessary.  

In addition to these one-on-one therapy sessions with your counselor, your treatment plan can include group therapy and mentoring to help you further overcome post-traumatic stress. In weekly group therapy sessions, you’ll hear from others who’ve been in your boots and are making real progress in their recovery. With individual, group and family therapy options at the IAFF Center of Excellence, you’ll have the support you need as you embark on your own path back to wellness.

Stronger Than the Struggle: Sound Treatment for Substance Abuse

When you come to the IAFF Center of Excellence for help for substance abuse, the first step involves a thorough evaluation of your mental, physical and emotional health. You’ll meet with a physician and therapist to undergo a medical exam that will determine which level of care meets your needs.

Your team of clinicians will evaluate the nature (length and frequency) of your substance use disorder and recommend an appropriate level of treatment. If you are experiencing symptoms of physiological withdrawal, you may enroll in medical detox, followed by inpatient residential care. These are the most intensive levels of treatment offered at the Center, while partial hospitalization or intensive outpatient are suited for those who do not require 24-hour care.    

As your mental and physical health improves, you’ll trade around-the-clock care and medical assistance for recreational activities and support group therapy, all while receiving support from your individual therapist and your peers in recovery. Once you graduate from treatment, you’ll receive a detailed aftercare plan to help you stay healthy and focused on sobriety, long after you return home.  

Post-traumatic stress and substance abuse don’t have to ruin your personal well-being. Help is closer than you think — reach out to the IAFF Center of Excellence today to get started with the post-traumatic stress or substance abuse treatment you deserve so you can get back to the life and career you love.

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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