Peace Officers Fellowship


I do not think anyone will argue with the statement that drinking alcohol is a large part of law enforcement culture. The consumption of alcohol occurs to socialize and celebrate. Young, new deputies may feel like they have to drink to fit in. Alcohol is often used to deal with the daily stress of the job. These layers of stress come from managing significant demands from superiors, rotating shifts, limited resources, manpower shortages, exposure to hostile situations, and media and public scrutiny. Some of us may be using alcohol to self-medicate due to anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Law enforcement personnel witness the very worst of humanity, domestic violence, shootings, deadly auto accidents and horrific crime scenes on a regular basis, yet there is a belief that law enforcement officers need to suppress their emotions to do their job. Buying into this, some of us drink to self-medicate so we don’t have to feel our anxiety, sadness or PTSD. Any or all of these situations can play a role in contributing to the high rates of alcoholism in law enforcement.

While it is hard to pin down exactly how many people in law enforcement are struggling with alcohol, it is clear that arrests for driving under the influence are up for 2022! Knowing what you can do about it before it becomes a situation that can put your career and even your life at risk is important. So let me share with you some resources available to you that could prevent you from experiencing a negative outcome.

First, did you know that if you seek services before you have an alcohol-related incident, you may be protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)? This holds true if an employee is qualified to perform the essential functions of the job and their alcohol use is an impairment and substantially limits a major life activity (e.g., learning, concentrating, interacting with others, caring for oneself). Under these circumstances, an employer may be required to provide an accommodation to an alcoholic (e.g., a flexible schedule to enable the employee to attend counseling appointments).

Second, if you have medical concerns, communicate with your primary health care provider. This could include the need for detox, which is the process the body goes through when stopping or cutting back on substances after a period of prolonged use. It is always better to consult with a medical provider to determine if detox is needed instead of trying to figure it out on your own.

Third (and lastly), if you need help addressing concerns related to alcohol, the Sheriff’s Department has resources to support you. You can always contact the Substance Abuse Resource Program coordinator, a Peer Support member, a Department chaplain or a psychologist from Psychological Services Bureau (PSB) by calling the office at (213) 738-3500. You could also connect with the Peace Officer’s Fellowship (POF), which is a group of law enforcement officers (men and women) who have had drinking problems. It is self-supporting, non-denominational, multiracial, apolitical and available to any law enforcement officer with a desire to stop drinking. Feel free to contact a POF member from the list above. There is no better time than now! Whichever resource you choose to use, it is confidential and free.