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Substance Abuse and Law Enforcement Officers

Apr 8th, 2012 | By Dr. Jeffrey Huttman Ph.D. | Category: Addiction Treatment, Substance Abuse treatment

When you think of groups of people with drug or alcohol problems, chances are that law enforcement officers are probably last on your list. Although police officers and others in law enforcement have a great deal of job-related stress, few people think that these public servants turn to drugs or alcohol to deal with their pain.

The Truth About Law Enforcement Officers and Substance Abuse

Several studies show a strong connection between occupational stress and substance abuse. Considering the fact that law enforcement officers are under a great deal of stress, it makes them strong candidates for substance abuse problems – despite their high public profile. It is estimated that alcohol abuse affects one-quarter of U.S. police officers, and drug abuse affects a similar number.

The problem with drug and alcohol abuse in law enforcement is that there is a lot of social pressure to hide substance abuse. Law enforcement officers have a mindset that is focused on helping others and pushing their personal lives aside. They may feel increased pressure to hide their problems and ignore warning signs that the stress of the job is becoming too much. It is hard for them to admit that they have a problem. They feel their public standing could be damaged if they reached out for help or got into an alcohol or drug rehab center.

To make matters even worse, many law enforcement department have a culture that encourages drinking for stress relief and camaraderie. Officers who have a problem with alcohol can have trouble getting out of the cycle when their friends and coworkers are encouraging them to drink.

How Substance Abuse Programs for Law Enforcement Work

Getting a law enforcement officer to admit that he or she has a problem is the first step in getting treatment. If your friend or loved one is dealing with addiction and part of law enforcement, they need help in getting over the addiction and help with overcoming the unique problems of working in law enforcement.

Treatment programs for law enforcement officers should provide support where it is most needed. A quality rehab program will start by addressing a law enforcement officer’s dependence on drugs or alcohol. To address the physical dependency, the law enforcement personnel will remain under a doctor’s care for the duration of the detox program.

Next, a substance abuse program for law enforcement officers will help patients deal with the emotional and psychological addiction. Your friend or loved one will have to face up to the reasons they were abusing drugs or alcohol in the first place – perhaps the stress of the job.

Working as a law enforcement officer can be one of the most demanding and stressing jobs in the world. If a patient wants to continue doing his or her job, they’ll need to find a new way to deal with the stress. On-staff counselors and therapists will help a patient consider their options, find other ways to deal with stress, heal emotional wounds and make way for a better life.

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