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Alcohol Abuse in Policing: Prevention Strategies

NCJ Number
FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin Volume: 68 Issue: 1 Dated: January 1999 Pages: 16-18
J M Violanti
Date Published
3 pages
Alcohol abuse is an important issue in police work, as estimates indicate that the rate of alcohol abuse among police officers in the United States is about double that of the general population.
While the social use of alcohol may be accepted in most professions, excessive use can impair an individual's ability to function properly at work and at home, and this can prove particularly dangerous for police officers. Occupational and personal losses associated with alcohol abuse among police officers are difficult to determine, and deficits in job performance due to alcohol abuse cannot always be easily detected. Even so, police officers who abuse alcohol are ultimately noticed by their organizations and sometimes by the public. To deal with alcohol abuse by police officers, many police agencies have adopted a strategy of providing assistance only after they discover a problem. A preventive strategy is recommended, one that is based on early intervention. In this regard, police agencies can improve the fitness and well-being of police officers, provide education on lifestyle rather than on alcohol itself, initiate stress management programs, and shift the responsibility of detection to individuals other than the affected police officer. A preventive strategy has the long-range potential to reduce alcohol abuse. 10 endnotes and 1 photograph