Police and Addiction
Police officers put their lives on the line almost every day.
They face dangerous situations, armed fugitives, violence, aggression, which makes their jobs highly stressful. In addition rotating shifts, double shifts and staff shortage makes their job tedious.
It has been estimated that one in four police officers have a problem with drugs or alcohol.
Law enforcement officials have a higher rate of substance abuse disorders than other professions and the general population.
The police face many stressful situations every day. They are called in for domestic violence, riots, bar fights, bad neighbors, fatal accidents, shooting, home invasion, etc.
The list is endless. Most times the officers entering these situations have no idea what to expect. They must be on high alert and adrenaline pumping at all times. This constant state of hypervigilance puts them under a great deal of stress.
There are responsible for the safety of others and they have to put their own safety at risk while protecting others. They also need to remain calm and be able to solve crises.
Rotating shifts also create stress as the police are often sleep deprived. They are unable to keep a regular routine. This takes its toll on cops in the form of fatigue and this can lead to mistakes, some of which could lead to loss of life.
While they try and cope with serious stressors, they find themselves under the microscope in their own community. One bad episode could tarnish the whole force!
There is often a lot of anxiety and guilt involved in being a police officer. This leads some to abuse substances, like drugs or alcohol, to cope. Due to repeated exposure to violence and the results of violence they suffer trauma and are often diagnosed with PTSD. They also suffer from depression or suicidal ideation.
Police officers also have easy access to drugs when they arrest dealers or do a drug bust. Some of them have to work undercover and have drugs with them in order to do seem like authentic drug dealers or drug seekers.
The first step to entering treatment is acknowledging that you have a problem. Admitting to being addicted is often harder for a cop as they don’t want to appear weak or not in control.
They have been trained to control situations and admitting that they are in control of their habits is hard. Also, their pride disallows them to take themselves off the front lines of fighting crime.
It’s important to understand what they face every day, what their lives are like and the incredible amount of stress they face. Therefore, it’s vital that these officers coping skills in order to deal with the things that drove them to the solace of drugs in the first place.
Police officers may view substance abuse issues or mental health issues as a threat to their job. Also, for them, it is a sign of weakness and they are loath to admit to it.
Dr Cidambi believes that outpatient detoxification and rehabilitation program can deliver better outcomes, as the police officers will go back to the same environment which caused the stressors in the first place. So being able to apply coping skills while in treatment allows them to integrate treatment into their daily life.
Also, the family of the police officer is often not completely aware of the situation at work. A police officer may resist sharing or talking about his or her stressors at work as he or she may not want alarm family members. So, involving the family in the treatment will help to increase support for the police officer and help them with their sobriety.
Asking for help from loved ones is a big step in starting the healing process and moving forward with their life. Through appropriate medications, therapy and family support they can claim their lives back. Please contact us for more information about getting treatment with addiction.