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Law Enforcement and Substance Use: A Dangerous Mix

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Substance abuse can affect anyone, even law enforcement. Although police officers often see the severe consequences of drug or alcohol use through their jobs, some still turn to substances. There are many reasons law enforcement personnel use substances including coping with the stress of their job, regular exposure to tragedies or death, issues in their personal life, or simply from anxiety or depression. While these factors do not cause a person to use, they certainly can be used as an excuse to heavily drink or even experiment with drugs.

Substance use in law enforcement should be taken very seriously, because:

  • Lives are at risk. If a member of law enforcement is intoxicated or high while working, there could be major consequences. Alcohol, a depressant, delays reaction times, which could make all the difference in a life or death situation.
  • Law enforcement is held up to a higher standard. Law enforcement officials are admired throughout their community. They are looked up to as heroes and upstanding citizens. If a member of law enforcement gets caught breaking the laws they work so hard to protect, this could diminish the trust of their community. It also may signal to people that if police officers are doing it, it makes it okay for them to do it.
  • It affects overall job performance. In addition to risking the lives of others, if a police officer begins using substances throughout their workday or feels the need to continuously drink or use drugs more and more, it will affect their awareness, concentration, and overall job performance. Not only will these consequences affect the individual using the substance, but it could also affect the entire police force, for any error possibly made by one individual will reflect on many.

alcohol abuseIt’s important to understand that problems surrounding substance use can’t always be fixed by treatment or rehab, which is the popular choice of help. Issues of depression, anxiety, or stress should be dealt with separately from substance use. These are two separate problems, which can be solved effectively through changing habits, making better choices, and embracing more productive lifestyle patterns. If a police officer or law official needs serious help they should consider seeking an alternative drug or alcohol program. The bottom line is: Seek help.

** This blog was submitted by Saint Jude Retreats. Saint Jude Retreats helps people with substance use problems by concentrating on self-directed positive and permanent change and offers the opportunity for individuals to self-evaluate and explore avenues for life enhancement.

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