U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

Police Trauma and Addiction: Coping With the Dangers of the Job

NCJ Number
FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin Volume: 73 Issue: 10 Dated: October 2004 Pages: 24-32
Chad L. Cross Ph.D.; Larry Ashley Ed.S.
Date Published
October 2004
9 pages
This article instructs police administrators in responses to trauma and stress, the link between trauma and substance abuse, and strategies for breaking the cycle of trauma and substance abuse.
Police officers' stress reactions to various threatening and disturbing events can lead to psychologically, cognitively, and physically debilitating conditions that impair occupational performance. Alcohol and other drug abuse are maladaptive responses to stress and trauma, and such substance abuse is widespread among police officers. Researchers have identified four occupational demands that can trigger alcohol abuse by police officers: reacting unemotionally to the daily stresses of the job (depersonalization), authoritarian demands from police managers, organizational protection of officers from criticism, and daily awareness of the dangers of the job. Substance abuse compounds the debilitating effects of occupational stress and impacts not only job performance but also an officer's family life. Intervention to prevent this downward spiral is the responsibility of law enforcement agencies. Such intervention begins with instructing officers to expect and recognize stress reactions and to use constructive stress-management techniques. Further, agencies should provide mechanisms and services such as professional and peer counseling, trauma teams, and instruction in the dangers of substance abuse. 28 notes