Former firefighter, recovering alcoholic on a mission to help others

Austin Campbell now works as a recovery advocate and is tailoring a program for firefighters battling addiction

By FireRescue1 Staff

DALLAS — A former firefighter who lost his job after back-to-back DWIs is now working to help others in their recovery.

WFAA reported that former Dallas Fire Department firefighter Austin Campbell followed in his father’s footsteps when he joined the department, but said the pressure of the job led to a drinking problem.

“I just couldn't stand being sober and in a right mind because there were so many things that I was remembering or thinking about that was trauma, that I’d seen or gone through,” Campbell said. “Even knowing that I was going to lose my dream career and my family begging me to stop, none of that was enough.”

Campbell is now a recovery advocate for Stonegate, a men’s treatment center, and wants to help fight the issue with alcohol abuse in the fire service.

Stonegate reached out to the Dallas Fire Fighters Association after a Dallas firefighter died by suicide; they are working on a program specifically for firefighters battling addiction.

“One of my hang-ups whenever I went into treatment is ‘How could any of you understand me? You haven’t been through what I’ve been through or seen what I’ve been through,'” Campbell said. “I can sit down with them and tell them, ‘Hey brother, I understand. I get it. I’ve been there.’”

Campbell said he still one day hopes to return to the firehouse, but is finding redemption through helping others recover in the meantime.

“What drives me is to pay back and freely give to the next man what was so freely given to me,” Campbell said.

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