It Won’t Happen To Me… Painkillers and Police Officers

By Safe Call Now Admin Staff

You’ve seen some terrible things on the job. Families torn apart by random acts of violence. Teenagers’ lives ruined or lost over drugs.

You’ve feared for your own life a few times, too.  It’s hard to talk about these feelings with your family, and why would you even want to? You want to protect them from feeling the way you do.

And mentioning anything to the other officers at work about the anxiety, fear or depression you’re experiencing is definitely out. You’ve heard the way they talk about the last guy who couldn’t cut it on the force.

Then, your doctor prescribes painkillers to help with a lingering injury you suffered on the job, and suddenly, you’re finding it easier to deal with those difficult emotions. While prescription painkillers can provide temporary relief from physical and even mental and emotional pain, they’re not a long-term solution for the issues you’re facing.

I Know the Dangers of Drug Abuse. It Won’t Happen to Me.

As an officer of the law, you have witnessed plenty of unnecessary anguish caused by drugs. Your experiences will keep you from making the same mistakes, right?

Unfortunately, some estimates for substance abuse rates among first responders are hovering around 30 percent. Why are these numbers so high?

For many police officers, your days have long bouts of inactivity, maybe seated in a squad car, punctuated by bursts of extreme physical activity and highly stressful situations. This seesaw effect can take a toll on both the body and the mind.

You’re also more likely to encounter injuries on the job than most other professions, and you may be prescribed opioids to deal with the pain.

How Side Effects of Painkillers on Police Officers Can Be Dangerous

While prescription painkillers can help manage pain associated with injuries during recovery, they’re not a good solution for chronic pain. Taking them long-term can build up tolerance, which may lead to dependence and addiction.

You may experience nausea or vomiting while taking the drugs. They can also cause drowsiness. For a profession that requires quick critical thinking and a level head to defuse potentially combustible situations, this can be dangerous.

If you do develop addiction, suffering through withdrawal symptoms while in the field can put you at increased risk. These can include:

  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Muscle stiffness or pain

Those struggling with painkiller addiction often find themselves having other issues on the job like:

  • Lowered productivity
  • Social isolation
  • Tardiness and poor attendance

Police Officers May Struggle with Other Opioids

When an addiction to painkillers becomes too difficult to maintain either due to supply or financial issues, many users turn to illicit drugs like pills bought off the street or even heroin. This can be extremely dangerous as these drugs could contain fentanyl.

Fentanyl is an incredibly powerful synthetic opioid that is considered to be between 80-100 times more powerful than morphine. Even small doses can be fatal. If you encounter fentanyl in the course of your job, make sure you’re wearing proper protective gear and following protocol to avoid inhaling or making contact with the substance.

Treatment for Police Officers with Painkiller Addiction

If you’re suffering with an addiction to painkillers, that doesn’t mean you have failed. Addiction is a complex disease that affects different people in different ways. Most importantly, it’s possible to recover.

Treatment is confidential, so you don’t have to worry about the stigma associated with seeking help for issues like addiction or anxiety. Here, you’ll learn healthier coping met

Some estimates for substance abuse rates among first responders are hovering around 30 percent. Why are these numbers so high?

If you, a loved one or someone you know needs help, call:

Safe Call Now:  24 Hour Confidential Hotline:  206-459-3020

For more information on the First Responders program:  Click here

Or call Shannon Clairemont at 661-466-6352 or Vanessa Stapleton at 304-651-3008