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What It Is:

Statistics show that first responders are more likely to struggle with alcohol abuse issues than the average person. There are several reasons behind the relatively high levels of alcohol consumption among first responders, including camaraderie, culture, using alcohol as a way to "unwind", and using it as a coping mechanism. It’s important that those working as first responders understand their risks for developing substance abuse issues and increase awareness around their alcohol use. 


Alcohol use disorder is a pattern of alcohol use that involves the signs and symptoms listed below.  However, even if you do not meet the criteria for an alcohol use disorder, you may still be engaging in unhealthy alcohol use.  Unhealthy alcohol use includes any alcohol use that puts your health or safety at risk or causes other alcohol-related problems.  This also includes binge drinking, a pattern of drinking where a male consumes five or more drinks on an occasion or a female consumes at least four drinks on an occasion.   

Signs and Symptoms:

  • Unable to limit the amount of alcohol you drink

  • Wanting to cut down on how much you drink or making unsuccessful attempts to do so

  • Spending a lot of time drinking, getting alcohol or recovering from alcohol use

  • Feeling a strong craving or urge to drink alcohol

  • Failing to fulfill major obligations at work, school or home due to repeated alcohol use

  • Continuing to drink alcohol even though you know it's causing physical, social or interpersonal problems

  • Giving up or reducing social and work activities and hobbies

  • Using alcohol in situations where it's not safe, such as when driving or swimming

  • Developing a tolerance to alcohol so you need more to feel its effect or you have a reduced effect from the same amount

  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms — such as nausea, sweating and shaking — when you don't drink, or drinking to avoid these symptoms

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