Top 3 Common Mental Health Challenges among Police Officers
The job of a police officer is continually stressful, and exposure to trauma can happen any day at any time. Because there is rarely time to step back and process what you have seen on the job, it is normal to develop mental health symptoms that may indicate an underlying or growing mental health disorder if they continue untreated.
Here are some of the most commonly diagnosed mental health disorders among police officers today:
1. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Due to acute trauma (e.g., being the victim of an attack or assault, experiencing any life-threatening situation as a witness, etc.) or repeated exposure to traumatic events and ongoing threats, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can develop. Some experts suggest that as many as 20 percent of police officers are at risk of developing PTSD, a disorder known to contribute to divorce, substance use disorders, suicide among law enforcement officers, and more.
2. Trauma-Related Disorders
Issues of anxiety, depression, sleep disorders, and more can all be indications of a trauma, and so can obesity, respiratory problems, and chronic medical conditions. How someone will process trauma will vary and depend on their past experiences, underlying mental health issues, and the coping skills they have at hand to deal with the emotions they feel. Every officer is different, and while post-traumatic stress disorder may not always develop, other signs of trauma are commonly diagnosed among law enforcement officers in crisis.
3. Substance Use Disorders
Alone or in combination with PTSD or other trauma-related disorders, substance use disorders often strike law enforcement. Using drugs or alcohol to unwind after a hard shift becomes the norm, drinking or getting high to escape the mental health symptoms caused by trauma exposure on the job, and/or attempting to “self-medicate” a mental health disorder and alter mood by using substances — all these are often reported by law enforcement officers in recovery as they seek to understand the why and how of their addictions.
Though many view substance use, especially alcohol use, as a normal way to manage stress, few expect it to grow into a problem of its own, and they don’t anticipate the toll it will take on their ability to do their job.
Face the Challenge
If substance use disorders and/or co-occurring disorders of trauma or mood disorders are impeding your ability to function, American Addiction Centers is here to help. Our First Responder Lifeline Program provides a unique option for law enforcement in crisis due to addiction and their families with:
· Therapists who are trained to work with first responders
· Treatment plans designed specifically to meet the needs of first responders
· A range of traditional, alternative, and holistic therapies
· Trauma evaluation and assessment to identify all co-occurring mental health disorders
· Reintegration assistance
If mental health issues are triggering the urge to drink or use drugs and causing other issues in your life, contact (855) 997–6542 today to learn more about how the First Responder Lifeline Program can help you get the treatment you need.