All it takes is one bad decision to change your life. This includes taking a chance and drinking more than you should. Given all of the resources that we have, why do employees of our Department continue to get arrested for alcohol and/or drug-related incidents? Is it that they don’t think they will be arrested? It’s important to remove the notion of “It won’t happen to me.” 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 to stop drinking if they aren’t able to stop before it exceeds moderation.
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 someone gets arrested or into trouble, the person is on a solo journey. There are people who can tell the person what to expect or what happened to them, but there is no guarantee that the situation will be the same. Did anyone get hurt? Were you uncooperative with the arresting agency? Did you have your 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 to get arrested for driving under the influence or other alcohol incidents is always preventable. Compounding life’s stressors in this way is avoidable with a plan, like Uber, Lyft or a designated driver. You also have control over the consumption of alcohol and the choice to not drink at all, to drink responsibly or to 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), (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 me a call or talk to one of our docs at Psychological Services Bureau (PSB) at (213) 738-3500. Together, we can help to put you back on the right course. You must take the first step.