Sometimes, we all could use a little help. “I can stop on my own!” I’ve heard this numerous times, and the person making this statement truly thinks they can do it on their own. If the individual is successful, no additional steps are obviously needed. But what if the person tries to cut down or stop drinking altogether and can’t stick to a responsible moderation plan or an abstinence plan? After starting with good intentions of having only a couple of drinks, or not drinking at all, a drinking problem can be flashing in neon signs if the person wakes up with a hangover again, possibly feeling guilty, ashamed and confused. Another person might go out with the guys and drink soda, but as time goes by they eventually start to drink alcohol and wake up later barely recalling what happened. Sometimes, when drinks are ordered for you by one of your buddies, it can be hard to turn them down. Many drinkers think, “One drink won’t hurt me,” but this is particularly dangerous thinking for someone who has trouble limiting how much they drink. Oftentimes, there are family genetics of an addiction problem at play, which makes it harder to control how much one drinks.
You don’t have to be an alcoholic to get in some sort of trouble due to alcohol. Alcoholism refers to an alcohol addiction or dependence, where the individual has a physical or psychological compulsion to drink alcohol. Alcohol abuse refers to a pattern of behavior where a person drinks excessively in spite of the negative consequences, which seems to happen to many people I speak to. We all have setbacks in life, but in time you can work through and rise above the situation, and move on with your fulfilling but less risky life.
What does it matter if you’re an alcoholic or not? If you cannot control your drinking on your own, now you have to come to terms with that. Perhaps you might need to go to treatment. Residential inpatient treatments, some specializing in treating first responders, are very structured and organized, with similar activities and therapies in most centers. This minimizes stress and uncertainty among residents, and also allows for the safest and most supportive environment for healing and recovery. Depending on the setting and the amenities offered, daily activities may vary. For 30 days you’re on a schedule, no sleeping in, so expect to rise early in the morning to enjoy a healthy breakfast. Some programs offer morning classes such as yoga or meditation to help you begin your day in a relaxed state of mind. Part of the treatment and recovery process focuses on developing new, healthy habits that are intended to become routine when you leave the center. There is often a group session following breakfast led by a counselor or therapist that focuses on topics related to the treatment process, the 12-step program, addiction and recovery.
So if you’re looking for a law enforcement–friendly treatment center, let me know. I have a list of treatment centers located in Southern California that I have visited and could recommend. If you need assistance with overuse or an addiction problem, or you have questions about the resources available, you can call Psychological Services Bureau at (213) 738-3500. We have law enforcement psychologists and trained deputy personnel ready to provide confidential help to assist you. If you are a sworn member, Peace Officer’s Fellowship (POF) is available. You can contact one of the members above and they will be more than happy to assist a fellow deputy.