Police Trauma and AddictionsTabel of Contents Introduction... 1 Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder... 2 Substance Use and Abuse... 3 Alcohol Abuse Chart... 3 Trauma Stress Interventions... 4 Conclusion...
4 Bibliography... 5 A study of 852 police officers found that nearly 50 percent of male and 40 percent of female officers consumed excessive amounts of alcohol. Excessive amounts of alcohol is defined as more than 8 drinks per week at least twice a month or over 28 drinks a month for males and more than 6 drinks per week at least twice a month or 14 drinks a month for females and that nearly 90 percent of all officers consumed alcohol to some degree. Law enforcement officers face traumatic incidents daily.
These events are unexpected and sudden and they are well beyond the bounds of normal experience. These incidents can have profound physical, emotional, and psychological impacts on officers, even for the best-trained, experienced, and seasoned officers. I have researched this topic because I want people to better understand the physical and emotional demands that a police officer must meet every day and the affects from the stress of it. In the following report I cover the topics of post traumatic stress disorder, substance use and abuse, trauma / stress interventions, and the effects of them on police departments and their officers. There are an estimate 623, 000 police officers employed in the United States. It haas been argued that police officers are at increased risk for mortality as a result of their occupation.
The average age of death for a police officer is 66 years old. (Law Enforcement Wellness Association) The ability to cope with stressful incidents is a personal journey that depends on an officer's past experiences with trauma. Appropriate development of coping strategies for stress is the ability to talk to family, friends, and other officers and to be able to recognize the dangers of ignoring signs and symptoms of post-incident stress. Regardless of an officer's personal experiences with traumatic incidents, avoiding, ignoring, or burying the emotional aftermath of a traumatic event can lead to serious short- and long-term consequences.
Many officers believe that substance use and abuse is the best way to cope with their otherwise unbearable feelings. Not every officer deals with stress and trauma by abusing chemicals, and not every officer chooses to abuse chemicals to numb the effects of trauma. Stree can generally be defined as the body's non-specific response to any demand placed upon it. There are two main types of stress, chronic and acute. Chronic stressor's are everyday stressor's of a low to moderate intensity, such as organizational stress, poor supervision, and shift work. Acute stressor's are events that are time limited and intense, such as critical incidents and officer involved shootings.
Evidence suggests that the two factors often are linked, due to the high-stress environment of police work. Some examples that cause trauma and stress could include an officer-involved shooting, the death of a coworker, serious injury while on duty, life-threatening incidents, hostage situations or negotiations, exposure to intense crime scenes, or a police suicide. Post-traumatic stress disorder is associated most often with critical incidents experienced by law enforcement officers. PTSD includes symptoms that develop when experiencing intense fear, helplessness, or horror.
These symptoms cause discomfort while trying to function on the job. If the symptoms persist for more than 1 month or appear for the first time 6 months after the event, then possible PTSD should be treated. Many high ranking police officers still believe that stress is not a problem that requires attention. This belief is based on two assumptions 1) stress exists, but is a fundamental component of police work and therefore can't be changed, and 2) there are limited resources of both time and money, which makes stress management a low priority, (Dawn Elise Snipes, Ph. D. 1) Substance use and abuse among law enforcement officers is widespread.
Alcohol and other drug abuse are behaviors associated with stress and trauma, and when these behaviors emerge in law enforcement, they must receive special. According to the Law Enforcement Wellness Association, studies have indicated that nearly one-quarter of law enforcement officers are alcohol dependent as a result of on-the-job stress and trauma. Alcohol is an important problem in police work, and may lead to other problems such as absenteeism, intoxication on duty, complaints by supervisors and citizens of misconduct on duty, traffic accidents, and an overall decrease in work performance. A study of 852 police officers found that nearly 50 percent of male and 40 percent of female officers consumed excessive amounts of alcohol.
Excessive amounts of alcohol is defined as more than 8 drinks per week at least twice a month or over 28 drinks a month for males and more than 6 drinks per week at least twice a month or 14 drinks a month for females and that nearly 90 percent of all officers consumed alcohol to some degree. Researchers have identified three occupational demands that can trigger alcohol use by law enforcement officers, first, reacting unemotionally to the everyday stresses of the job, second, officers feel as if they are not in control, and third, the stress related to officers knowing that their lives are in constant danger. Nearly 40% of police officers smoke cigarettes, which also puts them at a higher risk for cancer and other diseases. Traditional trauma / stress intervention involves some type of critical incident stress management or debriefing. Situations may indicate individual and group mental health treatment, along with professional or peer counselors, as a necessary part of the intervention. Law enforcement officers have viewed the mental health profession with some concern because they often did not feel that counselors understood what it meant to do police work.
Departments are now insisting that counselors have specialized training to appropriately administer assessments and treatments. All members of the law enforcement community have an important role to play when it comes to evaluating, intervening, and treating trauma and addiction. When officers suffer the aftermath of trauma, they are not alone. Many officers may see themselves as weak or abnormal if they seek help, and believe that admitting psychological or emotional pain will result in disciplinary action and, perhaps, job dismissal. Not only do the officers suffer from their trauma but, importantly, their colleagues, the families they love, and the public they have sworn to protect and serve all suffer. Bibliography FBI Law enforcement Bulletin.
"Critical Incident Stress In Law Enforcement." [Online] February/March 1996. web Center for PTSD. "Post Traumatic Stress Disorder." [Online] February 2005. web what is pts d. helm. Law Enforcement Wellness Association.
"Police Psychological Trauma." [Online] web psych trauma. html. Law Enforcement Wellness Association. "Dying From the Job; The Mortality Risk For Police Officers." [Online] web dying a. html.