Have you ever had the experience of not paying attention to the types of food you eat or how much you are eating, and then realize that your weight has crept up without you even realizing? Or maybe you were not paying attention to your spending, only to realize at the end of the month that you are struggling to make ends meet? Well, this can happen with your drinking, too. It generally takes years before drinking alcohol begins to show up in the form of problems, so maybe you were just hanging out after work doing what you always did just to realize that hangovers are a more common experience, mood swings are more frequent, you have lost interest in day-to-day routines or your tolerance has gotten high. Maybe you have let go of the things you used to do, you are showing up for work late or you are neglecting your home/family, and finding that you generally couldn’t care less about anything.
Identifying that there is a problem can be difficult. The people you drink with might be engaging in the same level of drinking that you are, making it easier to rationalize your habits. If your friends drink like you do, it must be “normal.” Right? Denying the issue is one of the primary problems in overcoming the disease of alcoholism; however, it is the first step in the recovery process. It is not an easy thing to do, and it requires a great deal of courage to admit there is a problem. Once the hurdle of denial is crossed, however, the opportunity and the desire to accept responsibility make recovery possible.
The next step is also difficult, and that is to reach out for help. Let me be clear, there is no disgrace in trying to improve your life and there is no shame in reaching out for support when getting help is the clearest path to success. Think about it, the first time you tried to walk, you fell down. We all did. Yet, we continued to try until we mastered the task and were not only able to walk, but were also able to run. This path to mastering walking likely involved a helping hand. Maybe the guiding hand of a parent or grandparent was extended as you learned to take your first steps. By accepting their help, you learned balance and built confidence, and over time, were able to take steps on your own.
If your drinking behavior is causing you problems, there are many helping hands reaching out to assist you in getting up and walking again. The Peace Officer’s Fellowship (POF) is one such helping hand and they offer free and confidential support, independent of LASD, to first responders working to overcome problems with alcohol. The POF is made up of men and women law enforcement officers who have/had a drinking problem. It is self-supporting, non-denominational, multi-racial, apolitical and available to any law enforcement officer with a desire to stop drinking. You can directly contact people involved in the POF from the list here. The Substance Abuse Resource Program (SARP) at LASD’s Psychological Services Bureau is also a helping hand and can be reached by calling (213) 738-3500. The SARP coordinator, Deputy Braggs, is available to offer free and confidential resources and support to Department members and their significant others by helping you locate resources to meet your current needs. This could include information about alcohol and other substance abuse treatment options. This is also a way to schedule an appointment with a law enforcement psychologist. Or, if you prefer, this is the number to call if you are interested in connecting with one of the numerous Peer Support members throughout the Department or a chaplain who works with LASD employees. There is no better time than now to accept that helping hand to get you where you want to go. I