As we get older, we begin to see how our lifestyle affects our bodies. While there can be many great health benefits of being a law enforcement officer, such as continuous physical activity, there are also unfortunate and sometimes unavoidable downsides. We may experience wear and tear from repetitive motions, or even worse, injuries from circumstances that were out of our control, such as a struggle with a suspect or suspects. At some point in most of our lives, a well-meaning physician offers us pain medication to deal with back pain, a torn rotator cuff or knee problems. It is during this instance that recovering alcoholics may encounter some difficulty resisting another form of dependency or pain medication abuse. While there are potential problems for everyone in our line of work who takes pain medication, for a recovering alcoholic, extra caution is needed. Expecting us not to obsess about avoiding pain and take a moderate approach to using a medication that is similar to alcohol (i.e., sedates the central nervous system) may not be so easy.
So what should a recovering alcoholic do? It is not realistic to think that we can get through life without injury, pain or medication. Make sure your doctor knows your history with any substances. Work with your doctor so that the best treatment regimen is prescribed. If you take medication, only take medication prescribed by your doctor and take it as directed. Make sure that you inform your doctor of any early signs of abuse, such as taking more than the recommended dose.
In the event that you find yourself unable to control your drinking or your use of pain medication, there are multiple resources available to help you. The Peace Officer’s Fellowship is one of those resources. It is a group of peace officers committed to living sober lives and helping others achieve and maintain sobriety. It offers support with confidentiality, and each month a few of its members’ names and phone numbers are printed in the Star News. In addition to the POF, help is available through Psychological Services Bureau’s Substance Abuse Resource Program (SARP), the Peer Support Program, the Chaplain Program and outside private entities (e.g., Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous). We are here to help you take that first step to overcome any addiction to a substance.