Police Officers, Job Stress, and Addiction
November 17, 2015

Police Officers, Job Stress, and Addiction

Police officers have a myriad of job-related stresses and are generally exposed to traumatic events on a regular basis. Coping with stress and trauma can be difficult for anyone, but when coupled with long hours and constant exposure to stressful circumstances, many police are vulnerable to drinking or using addictive substances, which are always unhealthy coping methods. There are various triggers that can lead police officers down the path toward addiction, but rehab and treatment can help.

Heavy Workload

Anyone who works understands how physically and mentally draining it can be to work overtime or pick up shifts you hadn’t intended on working. For police, heavy workloads are just part of the job. However, too much work and its associated intensity can over-stress police and cause them to adopt convenient but unhealthy coping methods like drinking or abusing drugs. Some may take out their emotional stress on family members. Because this type of stress isn’t likely to go away, police must adopt healthier coping strategies that can be learned at substance abuse and addiction treatment centers.

Traumatic Events

It’s important to remember that when a dangerous event occurs–a shooting or another violent encounter, police run to it instead of away from it like everyone else. While this heroic behavior is part of the job description, it carries an immense emotional burden with it. Trauma affects everyone differently and those effects aren’t a choice.

Some police suffer anxiety, depression, or even post traumatic stress disorder as a result of witnessing or experiencing traumatic circumstances. Rather than seek mental health treatment, which these conditions warrant, police may turn to drinking or using drugs to alleviate their emotional symptoms.

Other Job-Related Stresses

Police face a myriad of job-related stresses that aren’t always associated with trauma, but can collectively attack their emotional well-being. The stress of unsolved cases, hostile or belligerent encounters with people, the intense responsibility of training others or protecting their partner can be stressful–even when gratifying.

Stress is a powerful force that many people are apt to ignore, and yet it can wreak havoc on physical and mental health. Enjoying a drink with colleagues after a long shift may seem like a great way to unwind and shed that stress, but its relief is only temporary. When a person turns to drinking or addictive drugs too often, a pattern of abuse can form, and then addiction often follows close behind.

Addiction Treatment

Addiction treatment and rehab is the ideal place to deal with an addiction to alcohol or drugs. Addiction specialists understand the physical and mental aspects of this disease and can treat it effectively through medical detox and counseling. There are addiction treatment programs that are specifically geared for police and other first responders. These programs also target the stresses of the job and related addiction risk factors and help participants adopt effective methods for coping with them.

If you are a police or first responder, it’s important to recognize a problem before it worsens. If you know that you abuse an addictive substance or feel as if you have an addiction problem, it’s best to treat these issues now before they further impact your health, your job, your family, and your sense of well-being.

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