Many people think of teenagers and college students when they hear of amphetamine abuse. These club drugs have are not only in the clubs. Although according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, teenagers and college students are most likely to abuse amphetamines, they are not the only population vulnerable to the dangers of these drugs. Amphetamines come in both illegal and prescription varieties. Yes, there is amphetamine abuse among law enforcement officers. To understand why this is it is important to study why law enforcement officers are vulnerable to amphetamine abuse, the risks associated with abuse as law enforcement, and the obstacles they face when seeking help.
Vulnerability to amphetamine abuse
Truthfully everyone is vulnerable to amphetamine abuse this includes law enforcement officers. They work long hours in a high stress environment. Many officers start using because both the hours and the stress exhaust them. Many officers work 12 hour rotating shifts. This causes a constant interruption in the sleep/wake cycles. This interruption creates a need for the chemical adjustment of amphetamines to function.
Dealing with the criminal element all day every day is an additional stressor that leads to substance abuse. Law enforcement officers routinely interact with people who sell, use, and traffic amphetamines. It is not uncommon for people who are around illegal substances to start using them.
Negative effects of amphetamine abuse
According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, amphetamine abuse has a long list of side effects. The majority of these side effects are negative in nature. The short term effects of amphetamine abuse are:
- raised body temperature,
- cardiovascular failure,
- increased respiration,
- lowering of inhibitions,
- increased unrealistic feelings of competency, abilities, power, and
Although these effects do not all seem bad, when placed in the context of doing a job, they get considerably more dangerous. In addition to the short term, effects there are also the effects of withdrawal. If an officer misses a regular amphetamine dose, the effects that may appear are:
- memory loss,
- psychomotor agitation,
- increased hostility,
- difficulty with decisions,
- decreased ability to function normally,
- frustration, and
Again when combined with the responsibilities of a job, these effects are compounded.
Risks associated with amphetamine abuse among law enforcement
The risks associated with amphetamine abuse among law enforcement officers are specialized. They are in a position of trust, which makes the risks even greater. Some of these risks are:
- Addicted officers risk the lives of their colleagues and the citizens they are charged to protect. They are issued weapons and the rights to use them. If they are impaired they may not use them responsibly. Hesitation, overconfidence, and impaired judgment all have a high price when dealing the situations that law enforcement officers routinely find themselves in.
- Law enforcement officers are held to a moral standard. They are protectors of the law. When they break the law, it destroys the trust that a community has in them. With that trust destroyed, their control and position is threatened. If people do not have faith in those that protect them, they will do whatever they need to protect themselves. This may be dangerous to the people and officers around them.
- Amphetamines affect every aspect of a person’s job. Law enforcement officers are employed to enforce the law, catch criminals, and deal with victims. None of these duties are accomplished successfully while on amphetamines. The very nature of the drug prevents them from performing their jobs.
Obstacles to seeking help
Unfortunately, there are many reasons why law enforcement officers do not get help with their addiction. When seeking amphetamine abuse treatment, law enforcement officers must overcome a variety of obstacles. Although many of these obstacles are the same for ordinary citizens, they are more detrimental to law enforcement officers. These obstacles are:
- Stigma of being an addict – law enforcement officers must hide their treatment due to the nature of their job. If the media gets a hold of drug treatment information there would be an uproar about abuse of controlled substances because of their position in society.
- Fears for their job – law enforcement officers have an upstanding moral code within their job description. Although they are seeking help, there is still an issue with violating that code.
- Feeling embarrassed or out of place – law enforcement officers are normally people who recommend drug counseling and due to their position, they are not expected to need it.
Law enforcement officers can overcome these obstacles with help from their department and a sincere desire to get help on the part of the officer. There are programs within a police department as well as those offered by the state to help police with addiction issues.
The simple answer to, is the amphetamine abuse among law enforcement officers, is yes. To understand this answer, you have to look at the factors associated with being a law enforcement officer. Many law enforcement officers are in tiring stressful situations and amphetamines are an easy fix for these conditions. Unfortunately, the side effects of amphetamine use and the job do not mix well. Although there are substance abuse treatment programs offered by various police departments, there are obstacles to taking advantage of them. Not only does their choice of career make them more likely to abuse amphetamines, they have difficulty seeking help. All of these factors are what makes law enforcement officers vulnerable to the dangers of amphetamine abuse.