By Willis Braggs
It can’t happen to me” is the phrase that helps us continue to do things that we know we should not do. This includes drinking more than we should, and with all of the resources that we have, why do employees of the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department continue to get arrested for alcohol- and drug-related incidents? Is it that they don’t think it’s possible for them to get arrested? Let me tell you that it is possible, not just in our Department, but in any department. As I spread the word about alcohol and the resources we have at our disposal, how many people are really listening? Each employee has to make the decision to push away from the bar, or not to drink at all if you don’t know how to stop when you have had enough.
For those of you who have not noticed, the Sheriff’s Department has taken a hard line on employees picking up cases involving drugs and alcohol. This trend follows a substantial effort to alleviate the problem of employees abusing alcohol and prescription drugs. We hear about others’ misfortune; we see some of them get relieved of duty, and then some never return. If it’s a friend, we may talk with them in the early stages, but unless it is a close friend, we quickly find ourselves drifting apart, back to our own affairs.
When you get arrested or get into trouble, you are on a journey by yourself. There are people who can tell you what to expect or what happened to them, but there is no guarantee that your situation will be the same as their situations. Did anyone get hurt? Were you uncooperative with the arresting agency? Did you have your Department-issued firearm with you? What did you blow on the blood-alcohol test? These are all nuances that have a bearing on your outcome.
I know we work in a very stressful business, but getting arrested for driving under the influence or another alcohol incident is always preventable. Compounding life’s stressors in this way is avoidable with a plan like Uber or Lyft. You also have control over the consumption of alcohol and the decision to not drink at all, drink responsibly or ask for help before trouble hits. Peace Officer’s Fellowship (POF), for sworn members, is a group of first responders who have battled with alcohol problems and are willing to share their personal stories and help you with alcohol recovery. For non-sworn members of the Department, there is Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) at (800) 923-8722, or you may call the number on your health insurance card and they will assist you.
If you are having trouble gauging your limitations or are not sure of how to set them in the first place, give Psychological Services Bureau (PSB) a call at (213) 738-3500. Together, we can try to put you back on the right course. You must take the first step.