When we think of law enforcement, we think of nobility, heroism, and of men and women who are putting their lives on the line every single day. What we may not think about is anyone in the law enforcement field being addicted to something like opioids. As we have mentioned in prior articles, opioid addiction does not choose favorites. It does not care if your job is viewed by citizens as honorable and trustworthy or that the risk you take every day is already dangerous, let alone adding addiction to the mix. It does not choose its victims based upon social or professional status. Opioid addiction can affect any and all people.
THE NATURE OF THE JOB
Law enforcement officers face challenging situations every single day, and it’s no doubt that it can become taxing over time. For officers in more dangerous cities, they may face multiple cases every single day where they are involved in shootings, scenes involving children, deaths, and other tragic scenarios. Once they clock out for the day, all of these things continue to weigh heavily on an officer’s mind, and they must cope with their days the best they can as they return home to their families.
HOW COMMON IS IT?
“Drug abuse and addiction among law enforcement officers is higher than in the general population, approximately between 20-25%. In 2010, approximately 698 law enforcement officers nationwide were involved in drug-related professional misconduct. In recent years, painkillers and other drugs have joined alcohol on the list of most abused substances in law enforcement” (12 Keys rehab).
SUPRESSING EMOTIONS/TRAUMATIC EXPERIENCES
Many officers suppress their feelings and do not disclose the details of what they faced in their workday. They may do this to protect the innocence of their families or to simply avoid recalling the situation again. “Officers who push their feelings down on the job and continue to hide those feelings from the people they love can become officers that are cut off or at a distance from human emotions and daily kindnesses”, and we know that this is never healthy for the human mind (American Addiction Centers)
When you are withdrawn from other people because of an emotional or psychological issue, it’s easy to try and cope with things on your own. “Researchers with the Badge of Life program point out that 126 police officers committed suicide in 2012 alone. The average age of such an officer was 42, and the average time on the job was 16 years. These officers were beaten down by years of hard work and poor coping”, while other officers turned to drugs as their coping method (American Addiction Centers).
WHAT OTHERS ARE DOING TO HELP
Because the public is becoming more knowledgeable about drug addiction and its effect on people from all walks of life, more programs are being developed to help those in need. People can help further by watching out for typical behaviors of an addict: withdrawing from people, lack of focus, change in overall attitude, spike in work absences, poor grooming, potentially aggressive behavior, etc. (12 Keys Rehab).
Using proper medication disposal can also help to decrease the chances of a loved one becoming addicted to opioids. Be sure to rid your household of any unwanted, unused, or expired medications. Safely store ALL medications, and attempt to keep some type of inventory on those that are still left. This can help family members to ensure that others cannot access or divert the drugs to themselves or others.
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