One of the most frequent questions I get from people seeking advice about their drinking has to do with differentiating between being a heavy drinker and an alcoholic. After all, being a heavy drinker isn’t a problem, right?
Well, question of whether or not your drinking is a problem is not only answered by how much you’re drinking — who’d have known? If you’re wondering about your drinking and are willing to look at things objectively, I have a recommendation for how you can determine whether or not you have a drinking problem. Consider the following question: Do you continue to drink even though your drinking behavior is causing you problems in your life (personal and/or professional)?
A simple question, but not necessarily easy to answer objectively. Many people believe their problems are caused by everything but their drinking. They identify other people, world events or just bad luck as being responsible for their misfortunes. The truth is, however, that their problems are not caused by other people or because the world is out to get them or because they’re unlucky or a victim of circumstance. Their problems are due to drinking too much (which leads to bad decisions) and continuing to drink. This can become a cycle that is often very difficult to break. People in this situation often deny that they have a problem due to their own behaviors. If they could stop drinking, however, 90% of their problems would go away. I know this because of all the conversations I’ve had with people who have identified their drinking problem and quit.
Of course, not everyone who experiences an unfortunate incident due to being under the influence of alcohol has a drinking problem. People make mistakes. However, if you continue making mistakes that are the result of drinking, and you continue to go ahead and keep drinking, maybe it’s time for you to objectively ask yourself, “Do I continue to drink even though my drinking behavior is causing problems in my life (personal and/or professional)?” If you answered “yes,” know the PSB Substance Abuse Resource Program is an available resource.
As your Substance Abuse Resource Program coordinator, I provide alcohol awareness training for deputy sheriff trainees, field training officers in FTO School, and newly promoted sergeants in Sergeant Supervisory School. I attend briefings at various custody and patrol facilities to speak on this topic. If you need assistance with overuse or an addiction problem, or you have questions about the resources available, you can call PSB at (213) 738-3500. We have law enforcement psychologists and trained deputy personnel ready to provide confidential help to assist you. If you are sworn, 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.