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Police Officer Substance Abuse Statistics


A job in law enforcement is not an easy one. These men and women face significant stress and trauma that most average citizens cannot relate to. Sadly, many of these government workers will resort to self-medicating with drugs or alcohol to relieve whatever they are struggling with. Banyan Treatment Centers Heartland looks at addiction among law enforcement and police office substance abuse statistics.


Shocking Statistics of Police Substance Abuse

While police officers are the people tasked with protecting communities, they are also the ones who take on the stress and pressure of such a task. This, unfortunately, leads to a substantial amount of self-medication to mitigate what they are experiencing. South Illinois University found that 30.3% of officers “binge drank” within the month prior to the study.1 It was also discovered that 8.0% of public protective service employees admitted to drinking heavily within a 4-year span.1

In this same study, 18.6% of police officers scored higher than 8 on the alcohol use disorders identification test (AUDIT).1 This 10-question test has a score range of 0 to 40. Those scoring 0 abstain from drinking, and those with scores between 1 and 7 indicate they have minimal risk. However, scores of 8 to 14 might be an indication of alcohol consumption that is harmful, and anything about 15 most often shows the person has alcohol dependence.2

As almost one-fifth of the officers scored higher than 8, their scores indicate that professional assessments are necessary. Depending on the circumstances, possibly intervention as well.1 These numbers highlight the prevalence and alcohol abuse among these officers. These police officer substance abuse statistics are alarming and make it that much more important to be able to spot the signs of an addiction before it is too late.


Signs of Substance Abuse Among Law Enforcement

With a high prevalence of conditions like PTSD being present for law enforcement officers, it is no surprise that so many struggle with addictions to drugs and alcohol.

Signs of drug and alcohol abuse among those on the police force can include:

  • Consistent tardiness
  • Noticeable declines in work performance
  • Patterns in sick leave, such as calling in every Monday or Friday
  • Continual excuses at work
  • Falling asleep while on duty
  • Intense mood swings
  • Inexplicable financial issues
  • Isolation from peers
  • Persistent argumentative behavior
  • Avoiding their supervisor for seemingly no reason

If left unaddressed, the officer is not the only one who will suffer the consequences. It is likely that a person who grows reliant on drugs or alcohol will begin hiding their substance abuse and may even attempt to perform their job while under the influence.

In many situations, law enforcement holds a significant amount of power in their hands. Whether it is making an arrest, giving testimony in court, or conducting a criminal investigation, being drunk or high causes a serious disservice - not only to the officer but also to their department and the community they swore to protect.


The Importance of Rehab for Police Officers

Getting proper addiction treatment, like that found at our Illinois drug rehab, is crucial for officers who are currently struggling with a substance use disorder. Whether a person is in need of withdrawal treatment at our Heartland detox center, residential care, or partial hospitalization, Banyan has the resources to help.


To learn more about the effective therapies and programs that we offer, call Banyan Heartland Treatment Centers today at 888-280-4763.



  1. Southern Illinois University Law Journal - Assessing and Responding to Substance Misuse in Law Enforcement
  2. AUDIT - Scoring the AUDIT


Related Reading

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The Importance of Nutrition in Recovery From Addiction

Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa is the National Director of Digital Marketing and is responsible for a multitude of integrated campaigns and events in the behavioral health and addictions field. All articles have been written by Alyssa and medically reviewed by our Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Darrin Mangiacarne.
Police Officer Substance Abuse Statistics
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