While it may sound cliché, alcoholism is a disease that does not discriminate. Anyone can fall victim to the effects of excessive drinking. Even the societal role models, the saviors, and the protectors of the law enforcement system can sometimes fail to protect themselves from developing the habit of binge drinking.
According to research, incidences of binge drinking among police officers are on the rise. In fact, alcohol use by police officers is almost double when compared to the general public.
It is estimated that around 20% of the police force indulge in binge drinking and alcohol abuse. These statistics are truly alarming. While most people are responsible only for themselves or just a few people around them, police officers bear a much greater responsibilities on their shoulders. The responsibility of maintaining a law abiding society and alcohol do not mix well! Therefore, it is important to understand and deal with the core issues that lead to the trend of binge drinking in the police force.
Although field researchers and social services workers have expressed concern over alcohol abuse among law enforcement officers over the years, very little research has been conducted to determine the patterns of substance abuse in the field of law enforcement. However, a few factors have been identified that can help us understand this grave issue. Scroll down and read about the five main reasons that lead these real-life superheroes to indulge in binge drinking.
1. Peer Pressure
The desire to “fit in” is a natural human instinct. We are social creatures who need to be socially accepted by our peers. This makes social factors particularly important when it comes to understanding the trends of binge drinking in law enforcement.
According to research, most police officers spend a major part of their off-duty social time with their work friends. In fact, it is reported that they spend 75% of their time with their coworkers. Since the trend of drinking is fairly common in the force, nondrinkers can feel a little left out. Officers report that they believe nondrinkers are “less liked” by their colleagues and are viewed as “unsocial people” by their fellow officers. This behavior can put a lot of pressure on non-drinking officers, ultimately leading them to indulge in drinking.
2. Stress in the Line of Duty
Stress is the most prominent factor that make an individual turn to alcohol, and being a part of the police force is surely one of the most stressful jobs out there. Researchers have found a direct link between elevated stress levels and alcohol abuse in individuals. Now, it is important to understand that the nature of police work puts the officers at a greater risk of coming face-to-face with stressful situations every day.
Eventually, the daily stress takes a toll on them. Plus, the cultural inclination toward alcohol in the police force puts officers in close proximity of liquor. This makes alcohol the number one coping mechanism for a large population of the police force. After a long day work, most officers try to console themselves with a beer and before they know it, it turns into binge drinking.
3. Familial Issues
Research shows that officers are more prone to experiencing familial problems as compared to the general public. Again, the stress of their work is the culprit here. It is important to understand that, for most people, stress can be emotionally disruptive. It not only affects the individual but also puts a strain on their relationships. Generally, the stress that officers face at work gets transferred to those close to them, causing deterioration in their personal relations.
Familial problems surely play a major part in pushing officers towards binge drinking. Since they use alcohol as a coping mechanism, it is only natural that they turn to it to make up for feeling distant from their children or a failing relationships with their loved one.
4. Public Criticism
In recent years, law enforcement authorities have been under public scrutiny after several incidents of civilian shootings. Without a doubt, this led to considerable negative media attention. While it is okay to criticize individuals responsible for unfortunate incidents, it is unfair to blame the whole force. Unfortunately, this is exactly what happened, leading many officers to feel underappreciated and hated by the general public.
This affects the overall quality of their lives and they look for ways to cope with the stress that comes with being criticized for no reason. The public ridicule and the negative attitude of the general public affects the officers emotionally. While a number of officers find healthy coping mechanism like exercising and weightlifting, others turn to drugs and alcohol.
5. Lack of Support
While officers are taught to deal with all sorts of troubling situations, no part of their training teaches them to tackle the stress of daily life. It is important to understand that the officers of law enforcement have a particularly stressful job. However, in most cases, they are not taught healthy coping mechanisms to deal with it. The lack of support is a major factor that puts officers at a higher risk of abusing alcohol.
Helping Officers Struggling with Alcohol Abuse
We already know how the job puts law enforcement officers at a higher risk of indulging in binge drinking. However, there are a number of ways for protecting these protectors from ruining their personal and professional lives due to the excessive use of alcohol.
Today, law enforcement agencies take these matters very seriously. In fact, a number of departments have created support programs to help officers overcome issues related to substance abuse. Furthermore, a lot of rehabilitation facilities offer programs which are specially designed to fit the needs of officers and help them deal with work stress and personal relationships.
If you are an officer of law enforcement who indulges in binge drinking or knows someone who might be abusing alcohol, don’t hesitate to seek help. Contact Scottsdale Recovery Center to get yourself or those close to you the help that they need to enjoy a content and peaceful life. After all, police officers are the real-life superheroes who deserve nothing but the best.
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Talk to Someone Who’s Been There. Talk to Someone Who Can Help. Scottsdale Recovery Center holds the highest accreditation (Joint Commission) and is Arizona’s premier rehab facility since 2007. Call 866.893.6816.