Wednesday June 28th 2017

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Correctional Officers at Risk: The link between Stress, Trauma and Addiction

Correctional Officers and Addiction

First responders are in the line of fire daily, at constant risk of danger, and as a result, they deal with incredibly high levels stress. Correctional officers are no exception, facing continual threat of harm on every shift, ongoing stress, and repeated trauma exposure. Is it any wonder that drugs and alcohol become a perfect escape?

Think of their work environments and what they go through every day. They are faced with serious threats and constant stress. They are at risk of attacks daily. They must protect themselves and their colleagues in normal, day-to-day situations. Their very lives are a risk.

The High-Risk Work Environment

Sergeant Steven Floyd, Senior, a correctional officer in Delaware, lost his life to the job during a prison hostage situation. With his last words, he saved the lives of fellow correctional officers, letting them know that they were walking into a trap. A hardworking husband, father, and grandfather, Sgt. Floyd regularly worked overtime to provide for his family and was a hero into his last days.

Unfortunately, Sgt. Floyd’s story is not uncommon. Across the country, correctional officers face serious threats every single day on the job. Correctional officers have the second highest mortality rate of any job in the country, will be attacked at least twice on average during a 20-year career, and experience higher rates of suicide than any other occupation as a result.

Substance Abuse Increases Stress

For correctional officers who struggle with substance use, the threat of harm and levels of stress at work only increase. It can be a vicious cycle – drinking and/or using drugs to manage job-related stress that in turn creates more stress and higher risk on the job.

It’s a cycle Sonny Silva understands all too well. He struggled with addiction to both alcohol and cocaine for 7 of his 32 years as a Massachusetts Corrections Officer. Today, he helps other correctional officers get into treatment through American Addiction Centers’ First Responder Lifeline program.

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“You would be surprised when you walk into a meeting at how many people are just like you,” says Silva when speaking to other correctional officers. “You’re not alone. All you have to do is go to a facility, and you’ll find out that they’re just like you. You just have to be willing to take the first step and ask for help. My life is proof that long-term recovery is possible.”

To learn more about the First Responder Lifeline program and to speak directly with Sonny Silva, call (844) 646-4COS today.

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