Substance Abuse

When post-traumatic stress disorder is a concern, drug and alcohol abuse is, too. IAFF members are more at risk for substance abuse with co-occurring PTSD than the general population.

When a person is diagnosed with an alcohol or substance use disorder, there are often underlying mental health issues that led to or contributed to the addiction. It’s paramount that these co-occurring disorders are treated at the same time as the addiction. Whether the diagnosis is PTSD, depression or anxiety, co-occurring disorders can amplify the severity of drug or alcohol addiction.

Commonly Abused Substances

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, individuals with mental health disorders are more likely to experience some level of drug or alcohol addiction.
  • Alcohol: This can involve binge drinking, heavy drinking or alcohol dependency. Alcohol is often used to self-medicate and mask whatever mental health condition is present.
  • Illicit Drugs: Some fire fighters prefer substances that result in feelings of happiness and relaxation, such as marijuana or heroin.
  • Prescription Drugs: These can include oxycodone or other opioids, benzodiazepines (like Xanax) or sedatives (like Ambien).

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