Thinking about quitting drinking? It is possible to have a good time without alcohol. Sometimes we have social questions in our heads: “What will they say if I don’t drink?” “What will happen if I don’t go to the bar after work?” “Will they make fun of me?” These are some of the concerns that someone who is thinking of quitting may have.
We tend to be comfortable with people we know and see often. We in law enforcement tend to seek out and make friends with others like ourselves. Our friends tend to work the same shift or the same station. We often share the same views and speak in shorthand. Being with others like ourselves can help us unwind in familiar, safe surroundings with people who understand us. However, the downside can be detrimental. We think alike and there is no questioning or looking at things differently. When we are around someone outside of our circle with differing attitudes, we tend to believe that they are mistaken and different. Who we associate with can often tell us a good deal about our own drinking. We never intentionally pick our friends or acquaintances by how much they drink, but, in fact, we often hang out with friends who have similar drinking patterns. Most often, we have friends who drink like we do, which enables us to avoid looking at our own drinking habits and recognizing when there is a problem.
We can always say, “I don’t drink as much as so-and-so does,” or “All my friends drink like I do.” We start to believe that it is normal to start drinking after shift, before going home. Once in a while, a feeling that something is wrong may leak out briefly. Perhaps you are drinking too much. You know the feelings will go away. If or when the feelings come back, you may want to ask for advice from someone who will tell you the truth, not someone who drinks like you. You may find out that you do not need to drink to have the respect of your friends or have a good time. You do not need to drink to be trusted or be a leader.
If any of this sounds like someone you know, suggest they seek help. They can call me at Psychological Services Bureau (PSB) at (213) 738-3500. You have the option to speak to me or one of our psychologists. As always, it can be anonymous and confidential. You may also seek out a Peer Support Program member, a chaplain or a Peace Officer’s Fellowship member listed in the attached directory. With help, you can change your life one step at a time.