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Addiction.  Besides mental health issues, it is probably the most taboo subject in law enforcement.  Many see it as a sign of weakness and that, within this professional community, is a challenging perception to overcome.  But addiction is real and it is crippling. Merriam-Webster defines addiction as the "compulsive need for and use of a habit-forming substance (such as heroin, nicotine, or alcohol) characterized by tolerance and by well-defined physiological symptoms upon withdrawal; broadly:  persistent compulsive use of a substance known by the user to be harmful."  And says it is "the state of being enslaved to a habit or practice or to something that is psychologically or physically habit-forming, as narcotics, to such an extent that its cessation causes severe trauma."

But here is hope because there is help.  If you or someone you know or love is addicted to alcohol, gambling, sex, or illicit or prescription drugs, you will find information and resources within this section that can lead to a path of recovery and healthier, happier living.  You do not have to be alone in this endeavor.  Reach out to a confidant or contact a peer support team member.

If you are unsure if you or someone you know or love may be addicted to anyone of the above issues, answer a few questions below.


  • Do you make excuses to drink?

  • Do you stop taking part in activities because of alcohol?

  • Do you need to use alcohol on most days to get through the day?

  • Do you hide your alcohol use?

  • Do you have withdrawal symptoms when you haven't had a drink for a while?

  • Do you ever drive when you have been drinking?

  • Have you ever had any blackouts after drinking?

  • Have you felt that you should cut down on your drinking?

  • Is someone in your family worried about your drinking?

Drugs (Illicit or prescription)

  • Have you built up a tolerance?  You need to use more of the drug to experience the same effects you used to with smaller amounts.

  • Do you take drugs to avoid or relieve withdrawal symptoms?  Symptoms include nausea, restlessness, insomnia, depression, sweating, shaking, and anxiety.

  • Do you feel you've lost control over your drug use?  You often take drugs or do more than you planned.  You may want to stop, but you feel powerless.

  • Does your life revolve around drug use?  You spend a lot of time thinking about drugs, figuring out how to get them, and recovering from the drug's effects.

  • Do you continue to use drugs, despite knowing it is hurting you?  Your drug use is causing major problems in your life: blackouts, mood swings, depression, paranoia, and/or possible arrest.


  • Do you need to gamble with increasing amounts of money in order to achieve the desired excitement?

  • Are you restless or irritable when attempting to cut down or stop gambling?

  • Have you made repeated unsuccessful attempts to control, cut back, or stop gambling?

  • Are you often preoccupied with gambling?

  • Do you gamble often when feeling depressed, helpless, guilty, or anxious?

  • Have you lied to conceal the extent of your involvement with gambling?

  • Have you jeopardized or lost a significant relationship, job, or other important opportunity because of gambling?

  • Have you relied on others to provide you with money to relieve desperate financial situations caused by gambling?


  • Are you frequently engaging in more sex and with more partners than intended?

  • Are you preoccupied with or consistently craving sex?  You want to cut down, but are unsuccessful in limiting sexual activity.

  • Do you think of sex to the detriment of other activities or continually engage in excessive sexual practices despite a desuire to stop?

  • Do you spend considerable time in activities related to sex, such as spending hours online visiting pornographic websites or engaging in sexual "conversations" with others while online?

  • Do you continually engage in sexual behavior despite negative consequences, such as a broken relationship or potential health risks?

  • Do you feel irritable when unable to engage in the desired behavior?

Do not hesitate to reach out for help.  Use the organizations listed below, contact a peer support team member, or use other resources located within this website which specifically target the law enforcement community.

help and information

Warriors Heart®.  Warriors Heart® provides private treatment to adult men and women 18 and older who are seeking inpatient treatment for chemical dependency, alcohol abuse, and co-occurring psychological disorders relating to PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) or the psychological effects of MTBI (mild traumatic brain injury).  They offer 24/7 support (888) 439-8670 and were the first treatment center in the United States specifically for police, military, and first responders.

First Responders Recovery.  First Responders Recovery is a substance abuse treatment center in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida designed specifically to first responders and their unique needs, whether it be drug or alcohol addiction, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression or anxiety.  We are open to current and former first responders only, fostering a supportive environment for those who dedicate their lives to risking their lives and serving their communities.

First Responder Addiction Treatment (FRAT).  Post-traumatic stress disorder is a major challenge for vets and responders.  Prescribed pain medication can easily lead to dependency.  And addiction can also lead to suicide as an "option."  FRAT is based at Livengrin Foundation, founded in 1966 as a nonprofit treatment center in Bensalem, PA (outside Philadelphia).  Livengrin provides a complete range of services for alcoholism and drug dependency, at a wooded rehab campus and six outpatient locations throughout the region.  More than 100,000 people have come through its doors to begin a journey to recovery

American Addiction Centers (AAC).  Alcohol and drug addiction touches every segment of society, including the heroic workers that protect us from the worst of life’s events.  Split-second decisions can determine everyday survival.  Consistently facing high-stake situations, chronic pain from injury, and impending threats can cause some people to cope by using alcohol or drugs.  AAC recognizes the stakes are high every day for law enforcement officers.  AAC has developed an alcohol and substance abuse treatment program that addresses the specific stressors faced by those who work in the law enforcement field.

McLean Hospital. McLean Hospital understands that police, active military and other first responders endure unique on-duty and personal stresses, and also face many obstacles in seeking help. The LEADER (Law Enforcement, Active Duty, Emergency Responder) program at McLean Hospital is proud to provide specialized mental health and addiction services, designed specifically for men and women in uniform.


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