Law Enforcement Faces An Addiction Crisis, Too

Law Enforcement Faces An Addiction Crisis, Too

Among the many public-facing jobs, police officers often get the most scrutiny for how they do their jobs. Law enforcement officers are usually the first people on the scene of a crisis and see firsthand the effects of addiction. So it may be surprising to some people that addiction has run rampant in law enforcement too. Yet, people who work in this occupation are human like everyone else; addiction is a disease that does not discriminate.

Trauma And PTSD In Law Enforcement

Men and women who work in law enforcement often deal with situations the average member of the public can’t imagine. For some, this leads to PTSD or depression. These are genuine diseases that need treatment, but there isn’t a lot of awareness of it yet in these professions.

Law enforcement is also a career that can attract people who have been in the military, who may also be more vulnerable to PTSD due to their past experiences while serving.

Many people don’t know what is happening when they have symptoms of PTSD and self-medicate as best they can. Sometimes this means taking more opioids than they need after surgery or binge drinking on the weekends to quell anxiety.

There is no shame in having a mental health or substance use disorder. But once you realize you’re afflicted, it’s up to you to get proper treatment, diagnosis and help.

Signs of Substance Abuse Disorder

There are many signs and symptoms that you may look for if you suspect somebody you care about has a substance use disorder, but some may be specific to law enforcement careers.

They might include:

  • Tampering with evidence or making excuses to be alone with evidence.
  • Trouble keeping up with necessary paperwork and due dates.
  • Family disturbances.
  • Signs of burned fingers or lips. Breath smells of alcohol or marijuana.
  • Looking unkempt or unwell.
  • Slurred speech, acting sleeping, or seeming incoherent.
  • Tremors, shaking, quick to anger or anxiety.
  • Struggling to recall details of specific events.
  • Wearing long sleeves during the summer to cover needle marks.
  • Financial trouble with no known cause.
  • Getting into trouble with the law themselves, such as getting caught driving drunk.
  • Keeping multiple prescriptions to drugs like narcotics (opioids such as Oxycontin), sedatives (Xanax), or stimulants (Adderall). Going to different doctors for the same prescription. Keeping vape materials or rolling papers around.

There are many indicators of substance use among law enforcement and first responder. First, it’s important to know that addiction is a disease. People from all walks of life struggle with substance use disorder. Once you recognize that you’ve got a problem, it’s time to seek help.

Getting Help for Addiction

We can help you reclaim your life in a safe, compassionate environment using the right treatment tools for you. Give us a call to learn more about your options at 619-452-1200.


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