Stress and Corrections: The Road to Addiction

Imagine an environment that never sleeps and is the hive for illegal activities. Though this description sounds awful, it is an authentic place: it is a prison. The correctional officers that deal with the everyday prison activities are exposed to a tremendous amount of stress over their career, very similar to the stresses, and traumatic events were seen in a career of a first responder. The stress of corrections never falters and can cause strife to even the most hardened of people, and this can lead to finding extreme ways to cope.  These extreme ways of coping can lead to addiction and can affect career, family, and life in general.

Identifying Signs of Addiction

Addiction is a very illusive disease with symptoms that vary widely from person to person, and that can be easily hidden if not looked for. Combine this with the fact that many addicted people are in denial and try to hide their symptoms, and addiction becomes one of the hardest things to diagnose, especially by those not well versed in the signs. The stresses can lead to addiction in various forms, including alcohol, street drugs, and abuse of prescription drugs, each with their destructive symptoms. Although every person will handle addiction differently, some signs are commonplace through all types of addiction, and these are the signs that need to be identified and looked for when examining for signs of stress-induced substance abuse.

These signs can include:

  • Loss of Control- The person wants to stop using but cannot do so. This is usually seen by friends and family. The addicted person may confide in someone that the feeling of control is lost when it comes to the substance
  • Priorities Changing- The moving of importance things in the person’s life to the sideline can be a tell-tale sign of substance abuse. The sudden change of focus from career and family to other activities can be due to substance abuse as the need to prioritize the substance as it takes over every aspect of life.
  • Extreme Physical Change- Physical changes in a short period of time can be another sign of addiction. As a person undergoes addiction, weight loss (or gain) in a short period of time can due to symptoms of the substance or due to lifestyle changes to accommodate the drug. Physical changes can vary widely, from muscle growth from steroids or from weigh loss from various street drugs, but can typically be used as an indicator for some kind of substance abuse.

Identifying these signs is the first step on the road to recovery, whether for yourself or a fellow correctional officer. It is essential to look for the typical signs of substance abuse, as it may mean the difference between getting the help needed and losing family and career.

Getting Help

If you believe you may be addicted, accepting the fact that you need a change is the most crucial step in the recovery process, as overcoming the denial that so many addicted first responders have is the hardest step for many. After accepting that you may need help, it is important to research various recovery methods and find the one that will work best for you. It may be intimidating at first but finding the correct program that suits your specific needs is an essential step on the road to recovery.

There are many ways to seek help recovering from addiction, each with pros and cons, and each having different effects on everyday life. The programs will range from full-time recovery programs over several weeks to online counseling that is done on convenience of the addicted person. The Deer Hollow Recover Program is a good example, as it’s an extensive trauma program that specifically helps the issues responders struggle with. The Deer Hollow also allows for choices on the group, whether one-on-one is desired, or a large group. Deer Hollow also has a program for allowing families to assist in the recovery process. These options are integral in getting the proper professional help that meets the needs of the addicted individual.

Addiction Doesn’t Have to Win

Although the journey to beating addiction may seem like an impossible battle to win, it is essential to see the light at the end of the tunnel. What the strife and bumps in the road experienced on the road to recovery may set the progress back and be discouraging. However, in the end, beating substance abuse and saving career, life, and family will always be a better option, and enduring the challenges of recovery from substance abuse will not only improve life and allow you to be happier in the horrid place called prison, but it will allow you to move forward in your goals and be the person you’ve always wanted to be.If you or a fellow corrections officer is addicted, Deer Hollow may have a program to help.

Sources Signs of Addiction



Mark Lamplugh is a fourth-generation firefighter and former captain with the Lower Chichester (PA) Fire Company. He was the Chief Marketing Officer of 360 Wellness Inc and currently is Director of Media & Communications with Institute for Responder Wellness and Deer Hollow Recovery. Lamplugh is also nationally recognized in Crisis Stress Intervention through the American Academy of Experts in Traumatic Stress. Lamplugh hosts his own talk show called “Firefighter Wellness Radio” with Fire Engineering. Mark also published his first book “Marketing Playbook for Social Media” to basically help companies and non-profits learn how to spread their message on social media.  He has helped thousands of firefighters, police officers, veterans, EMS personnel, and civilians nationwide find help for addiction, alcoholism, PTSD, and mental health support. Mark has been chosen as one of the Board of Directors at One World For Life (To head up Communication and the Health & Safety section). He can be reached for comment