April Is National Alcohol Awareness Month
Published April 10, 2023
Author Sheldon Gaines, M.D.
As this is National Alcohol Awareness Month, it presents an opportune time to address what many consider to be one of law enforcement’s health concerns: alcohol abuse and dependence.
It’s entirely possible law enforcement officers have a need to suppress their emotions to do their jobs. This may be one of the issues contributing to the high rates of alcoholism among police officers who, because of being in a position of public safety and trust, suffer negative social consequences more profoundly than those in other occupations.
Probable Causes of Alcoholism Among Police Officers:
Stress: Law enforcement officers are often under intense stress. The job be can dangerous; officers may walk into uncertain situations during any shift. They occasionally confront people who are violent, angry, or mentally disturbed. The job has likely become even more stressful during recent years as officers have faced increased scrutiny and large-scale public backlash.
On and offs: Officers may have long periods where nothing is happening followed by short periods of tension in dangerous environments.
Schedules: Officers may work several long shifts in a row, which can cause fatigue, anxiety, and depression. It can be difficult to maintain a healthy routine with such odd hours. Unwinding with alcohol on days off or after a long shift could be an enticing way to cope.
Alcohol-related warning indicators:
- Experiencing nervousness (“jitters”) until the first drink.
- Erratic job performance.
- Lying to friends, family, and coworkers about amount of consumption.
- Unsafe driving.
- Having more than 4 drinks per day for men.
- Having more than 3 drinks per day for women.
Alcohol abuse can result in adverse health consequences such as:
- Motor vehicle crashes.
- High blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, liver disease, and digestive problems.
- Several forms of cancer, including mouth, throat, esophagus, pancreas, voice box, stomach, liver, and colon cancers.
- Breathing difficulties.
- Muscular weakness.
- Weakened immune system.
- Memory problems.
- Early onset of dementia.
If concerned about your drinking habits or those of someone you care about, please see, or have your loved one see, an Adult Medicine provider for a physical checkup and start a dialogue about making healthier lifestyle choices.
Many people with an alcohol-use disorder hesitate to get treatment because they don’t recognize that they have a problem. An intervention from a loved one can help them recognize and accept that they need professional help.
Learn more at www.cdc.gov/alcohol.
Dr. Gaines is a board-certified Family Medicine physician caring for patients at
Kelsey-Seybold’s Gulfgate Clinic.
For appointments, call 713-442-0000, or go online to Kelsey-Seybold.com/APPOINTMENTS.