Getting Help as a Law Enforcement Officer
Law Enforcement are the people who arrive at the scene first in the event of a tragedy. This term includes police officers. Many of us take these people for granted, knowing that they will arrive to help us when needed. However, many of them pay a silent price for their services. Unfortunately, jobs that involve a lot of stress have been known to drive people toward drugs, alcohol, and other addictions.
Statistics About Drug and Alcohol Abuse Among Law Enforcement
There is an alarmingly high rate of drug and alcohol abuse among law enforcement, putting them at greater risk than many other groups of professionals. It makes sense that people who have to deal with traumatic situations on a daily basis would need some sort of coping mechanism. All too often, though, a substance use disorder becomes that coping mechanism.
Law Enforcement Professionals
When it comes to law enforcement professionals like police officers, the subject of drug and alcohol addiction is a sensitive one. After all, police officers are expected to maintain a certain standard of dignity and to avoid breaking the law.
This study from the American Journal of Police used a methodology that was quite simple as they just picked one particular police department at random and surveyed its members anonymously. There are several interesting takeaways from this research.
For one thing, the study found that most of the officers who reported issues with drugs or alcohol had “exemplary performance records.” This is not what most people would expect, but it shows that even the best police officer can feel the need to forget things. Like a first responder, these individuals deal with traumatic situations every day, and it is quite natural to seek relief from that trauma.
The study also found that there was a high incidence of drug and/or alcohol use among police officers in the sample department. This department may or may not represent the average state of affairs, however, so another source would be helpful.
This study was conducted in 2011 on the subject; this one focused more on the alcohol problem. Alcohol use is more common than drugs in this group.
The alcohol-related study used similar methods, utilizing anonymous reporting to get a sense of the general trends. However, this project involved three different police departments instead of one. Thus, it is likely to be a better representation of the problem.
What we see is a 20-25% rate of heavy alcohol use among police officers. Of these, about 15-18% would meet the criteria for alcoholism. Female officers seem to have a slightly lower rate, but the difference isn’t that large. By contrast, researchers found only about 10% of police officers with drug issues. Thus, we can see that alcohol is a more appealing option for law enforcement members, if only because it is legal and readily available. This study also cited another project from Australia, which puts the rate of alcoholism among their police officers at roughly 48%. These numbers demonstrate the likelihood of officers beginning a substance use disorder.
The Effects of PTSD
As you can probably see, we keep coming back to the same theme over and over. That theme is post-traumatic stress disorder, also known as PTSD. It seems to be the one common thread that ties all of this research together, so it’s important to find out what it is and how it affects people.
It is important to understand the difference between normal trauma and PTSD. When someone experiences or witnesses a traumatic event, it is perfectly natural that they will be upset. However, most people get over these emotions with time. They may not forget, but the mental impact doesn’t last forever.
PTSD is another story. This is the kind of trauma that never goes away and which can thus destroy a person’s entire life. The effects of PTSD are many and varied, but they commonly include depression, flashbacks, nightmares, violent reactions, the inability to communicate properly, and a certain detachment from emotion.
The trouble with these symptoms is the fact that most of them are experienced internally and cannot be verified with hard scientific data. That being said, the effects of PTSD are very, very real. In addition, many people turn to substances such as drugs and alcohol to cover or to get over their traumas or symptoms of PTSD. When these substances stop working as well, sufferers take more and more of these substances to mask their pain until they are facing a substance use disorder in addition to PTSD. We would strongly urge you to seek treatment before things get to that point.
How to Get Help
There are many places in which a person can receive the help that they need to overcome addiction. The Green Mountain Treatment Center is one such place. At Green Mountain, we offer the finest and most advanced treatment out there, doing our best to ensure that you can get over your addiction and move on with your life. Green Mountain Treatment Center specializes in the treatment of law enforcement officers and has helped many people with PTSD move on with their lives.
Uniformed Services Program
Green Mountain Treatment Center is proud to offer specialized, tailored treatment for Police Officers struggling with substance use disorders. Our drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility in Effingham, New Hampshire, offers extensive selections of therapies and program options that treat these individuals who have often experienced unique and traumatic experiences throughout their careers. Researchers have discovered that a profound number of First Responders suffer from debilitating depression, anxiety, and PTSD, which are often the link to substance abuse.
Our professionals are specifically trained to help guide Police Officers and other uniformed service professionals in their pursuit of a life without drugs and alcohol. They will also delve into the other aforementioned challenges, such as anxiety, PTSD, and depression, to help you achieve a better and more fulfilling life.
Learn more about our Uniformed Services Program here