Firefighters brave fierce flames in order to accomplish their mission: save the lives of those who are in danger. However, not completing this mission can often lead to a sense of perceived failure that few can understand. This pressure to act flawlessly with each call along with the constant need to be ready for anything could wear down even the toughest person. In order to cope with this extreme sense of responsibility, many firefighters turn to alcohol or drugs in order to remain calm. This in turn leads to a constant need to continue taking drugs and drinking in order to feel calm, ultimately leading to addiction. Others suppress their feelings and are exposed to traumatizing events which slowly lead to the debilitating conditions of PTSD.
For families and friends, this can be painful to watch. The person who bravely conquered the flames with each call slowly becomes a mere reflection of their former self. In order to avoid further damage, it’s important to be aware of any of the damaging signs that could point to PTSD or addiction.