Over the past few years, the same questions keep coming up. What will they say if I don’t drink? What will happen if I don’t go to the off-training party? Will they make fun of me? Some of my partners drink a lot. Will they trust me? These are often questions of someone who is thinking of quitting drinking.
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. They use the same slang and share the same views. Even if we disagree with individual opinions, we try to overlook them to find similarities.
We are comfortable with what we know, and this can do a lot of good things. Being with others like ourselves can help us unwind in familiar, safe surroundings with people who understand us. It can also be detrimental, and we will feel everyone is like us and there is no other way of looking at things. 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 tell us a great deal about our drinking. We never intentionally picked our friends or acquaintances by what or how much they drink, but, in fact, we often do. Sometimes we even say, “You can’t trust someone who does not drink.” Most often, we have friends who drink like we do, which enables us to avoid looking at our drinking habits. We start to believe that only the “normal” guys and gals stand around after shift drinking beer in the parking lot. The people who make the rules against the places we can drink or how much we drink are jealous of our good times.
When all of your friends drink as you do, you must be doing the right thing.
Once in a while, only for a minute, you may feel that something is wrong, perhaps you are drinking too much. You know that the feeling will go away and your drinking friends will assure you that nothing is wrong. When the feeling comes back, and it will, 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 respect, friends or a good time. You do not need to drink to be trusted or be a leader.
If you need assistance with a drinking problem, or you have questions about the resources available, you can call me, Deputy Braggs, at the Psychological Services Bureau at (213) 738-3500. We also have law enforcement psychologists ready to provide confidential help to assist you. If you are sworn, Peace Officers Fellowship is available. You can contact one of the members above and they will be more than happy to assist a fellow deputy.