Chicago Area Rehab Center Treats Firefighters, Paramedics for Alcohol Problems. Researchers Have Found Firefighters Drink More Than The Average Adult

A good story from the Chicago Tribune on the treatment one Rehab Center provides for Firefighters and Paramedics.  We all know we are exposed to tragic situations on a regular basis and how we handle those situations differs from firefighter to firefighter.  The video associated with this story would not let us embed it into our story but here is more on the story.

Chicago Tribune – “Scott Schaben started working as a suburban firefighter in the 1980s, bonding with his co-workers over off-duty beers. But his social drinking turned compulsive after he went through a divorce a few years ago, consuming his life until he knew he needed help.

He ended up seeking treatment at Rosecrance, a Rockford-based recovery center that has what it bills as the nation’s first treatment program aimed exclusively at firefighters and paramedics. Schaben, 52, said that being among others who knew the stresses and demands of his job was a considerable help.

“It was just like a huge load taken off my shoulders,” he said. “I just felt that even though I didn’t know someone, I could still talk to them. It made a big difference.”

Researchers have consistently found that members of the fire service drink more than the average adult, a legacy of consumption that dates to when some firehouses doubled as the local tavern.”

Chicago Tribune

Chicago Tribune

“But when off-duty imbibing leads to addiction, getting help can be problematic, some say. The job’s pressure and “no weakness” culture make it difficult to face up to the problem, and its insular culture creates a belief that outsiders won’t be able to help.

That led Rosecrance last month to create a separate unit at its inpatient center for firefighters and paramedics. Led by an active-duty Chicago Fire Department battalion chief, it aims to provide the expertise and understanding that will help its clients get better.

“No one told us the effects the job would have on us and our families, and no one gave us the tools on how to deal with it, day in and day out, for a career,” said Dan DeGryse, the battalion chief. “It’s going to take time to change. What we’re trying to do now is address it after 150 years of the same stuff.”

Chicago Tribune

Chicago Tribune

“Researchers say aspects of the fire service are risk factors for addiction. Firefighters and paramedics witness traumatic scenes over and over, sometimes multiple times per day. They have unusual schedules, typically working 24-hour shifts followed by two or more days off — time some fill with drinking.

And they have a culture some say has long tolerated, if not encouraged, drinking to excess once the job is done.

“Alcohol is used as a social lubricant,” said Sara Jahnke of the Kansas-based Center for Fire, Rescue and EMS Health Research. “A lot of the debriefing happens at the bar, talking about things that happened on the shift.”…Continue Reading Here

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