|By Safe Call Now® President & Founder - Sean Riley|
A dear friend of mine always says and he’s right, “We treat our cars better than we treat our first responders in addiction who are going to die”. When the red light comes on in our vehicles we immediately take the vehicle into the mechanic and have it assessed, evaluated and fixed. When we’re dealing with the alcoholic or addicted first responder, the red lights come on and as a profession we will enable them to protect our partners (blind loyalty), try to fix the problems ourselves (which only a professional can do) or cast them aside and throw them away as if it is someone else’s problem (the easy way out).
The diseases of addiction and mental health when combined are two of the deadliest diseases known to mankind, yet they are the only two diseases that we allow the first responder who’s brain is incapable of making logical decisions dictate the terms of treatment. Maybe for fear of not offending them, ending their career, who knows there are many other reasons usually associated with “The Thin Blue, Red, Green Line”. Ultimately I have determined that the main cause is that “It’s always been done this way in the past”. This is why Safe Call Now® exists, an organization that is willing to change the culture and thinking of an entire profession that experiences these diseases at twice the rate of the general population according to some studies and some say even higher. Who knows? I just know first responders are dying from it.
I want to speak with all of you about the alcoholic and addict mind and what the first responder may be thinking and doing when they are in this situation. I am familiar with this because I was “That guy”. The guy who would lie to your face, smile, tell you everything is alright, convince you that everyone else is crazy, function within the work environment, control the situations, create drama within others to direct the attention away from me and convince you that I was right. Fortunately or unfortunately I do not think like you.
Alcoholics and addicts usually have above average intelligence (I would like to think so) and are very creative because we’ve had to be to get what we want and manipulate situations to obtain our main objective… to get the alcohol or drugs at any costs. I remember when my supervisors were impressed with my ability to “Think outside the box” to solve complex cases. The reason for this is I felt I had to perform at such a high level that it would divert attention away from me and my drug use. On the outside I was “That guy” people were coming to for advice on creative ways to solve cases which fed my ego all the while I was falling apart on the inside and in my private life. It’s kind of ironic that my thinking was so delusional in nature, my brain was hijacked by the disease of addiction and there was no logic to my decision making and I was able to convince others that I was this brilliant “Guy” (or at least I thought so). Yet somehow I was able to make it work for over 23 years and as I progressed through my disease I really felt I was superior to others. I’m not proud of any of this and it is actually very embarrassing when I look back upon it all.