Substance Abuse Among Public Safety Officers

We know that substance abuse can affect people of every background and history. Perhaps the picture that comes to mind is that of a homeless drug addict, living on the streets, selling everything they have in order to get their next high. Or those that sell drugs to other people, including children, to support their habit. We know all about the trend for young people to try drugs to be cool, or certain lifestyles where drugs seem commonplace or even expected.

The Unexpected Substance Abuser

But lately new pictures may also come to some people’s minds. These drug addicts may be a little more surprising to some: the affluent housewife who orders her prescription drugs online to support her addiction, the office professional that has been hiding his drug addiction for years, the police officer in the local town.

Public Opinion

Drug abuse affects millions of people each year. In our country there is a stigma about drug abuse, and (perhaps for good reason) many people, especially those that don’t fit the typical drug addict role, spend their lives hiding the addiction. Admitting that there is a problem is embarrassing, and would disrupt their world. More and more today, however, groups are being organized to support these individuals that are struggling with addiction, as well as their families. It is important for them to see that they are not alone, and that substance abuse treatment can give them a new life.

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Who Answers?

Public Safety Officers

One group of people getting help for drug addiction is that of public safety officers, including police officers, firefighters, and EMT workers. These workers typically sacrifice much for others while performing their jobs, and many are seen as heroes to those they help. So when the pressure of a stressful job leaves these public safety officers turning to drugs or alcohol to ease their mind, it becomes hard for them to admit they have an addiction.

Getting Help

These professionals need help for their addictions just like everyone else does. It is important for more of these public officers who have struggled with drug addiction to come forward and tell their story, and encourage others to get help. Statistics on substance abuse among this group are hard to find, since many public officers suffering with addiction do so in silence. They need to be encouraged to that gives them the help they need.

Perhaps more should also be done to prevent drug abuse among professions that are full of trauma and stress. Counseling should be made available to help officers deal with particularly disturbing traumas. Support groups can be set up for public safety officers to discuss how the difficulties of their job are affecting them. Leniency can be granted to allow time off for mental health evaluation and substance abuse treatment. And in general, the public needs to have an understanding of those suffering from substance abuse, even if it is someone unexpected.

Sources

Substance Abuse Among Healthcare Professionals

Cross, Chad and Ashley, Larry Police Trauma and Addiction Coping with the Dangers of the Job

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