Many first responders struggle with mental health issues such as depression or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) due to traumatic emergency response situations. Addiction and mental health issues often have a direct relationship with one another as co-occurring issues. For many first responders of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the anniversary of the tragic event can trigger PTSD and substance use to cope.
People who undergo depression or PTSD may use alcohol as a way to self-medicate, which can result in destructive behavior, disruption with job performance, trouble with loved ones, and health complications. Individuals who experience trauma often use substances to:
- Fall asleep to due disruptive sleep patterns caused by PTSD
- Avoid traumatic memories or flashbacks
- Forget about problems
- Deal with mood disturbances caused by PTSD
- Numb emotions
By understanding that PTSD and substance use disorders coexist, they can be treated more-effectively as a dual diagnosis. People suffering from PTSD often have flashbacks and relive the event repeatedly. They may avoid certain places or people and can be easily startled and have angry outbursts. Serena Gordon wrote an article for Healthday News (2018) on new research that suggests PTSD may put 9/11 first responders’ hearts at increased risk for heart and stroke.
The CDC stated in 2012 that more than 60,000 people worked on the rescue and recovery effort in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. This includes volunteers with no prior training and experienced police officers and firefighters. According to study senior author, Dr. Alfredo Morabia, “PTSD’s link with heart attack and stroke should be taken into consideration when untrained first responders are sent to respond to catastrophes of different types.”
Mental health is particularly important to study in the context of disasters, because often in such events as 9/11, loved ones are lost suddenly, horrifically, and unexpectedly.
It can be difficult to ask for help. Cypress Lakes Lodge offers treatment for dual diagnosis. If you or a loved one is suffering from a mental health condition and substance use disorder or addiction, do not wait another day. Get help now. Mental health conditions, such as PTSD with co-occurring substance use disorder are treatable and recovery is possible.
Cypress Lakes Lodge offers treatment for addiction in a peaceful, remote, oxygen-rich environment. The program encompasses holistic addiction therapy for the mind, body, and soul. The focus is on physical, mental, and emotional well-being by generating the balance of life-enriching treatment, wellness, and healthy, sober, sustainable relationships. Call us to get started: 409-331-2204