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Police and Alcohol Use: A Descriptive Analysis and Associations with Stress Outcomes

Abstract

Alcohol misuse is a significant problem in police work. This study describes alcohol use correlates and examines psychological outcomes of stress associated with the use and level of alcohol by police officers. Measures: (1) AUDIT-Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test; (2) demographics; (3) Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression scale; (4) Impact of Events Scale (PTSD); and (5) life events scale. The mean AUDIT score was M = 5.64 (low risk <8). Male officers had significantly higher scores in overall AUDIT total, hazardous alcohol use domain, and dependent symptoms domain (p = 0.004, 0.002, 0.031, respectively). Women officers in the hazardous drinking range on the AUDIT were significantly younger than women officers in the lower AUDIT range (p = 0.050). Males in the hazardous drinking range had significantly higher external life event scores than females (p = 0.037), suggesting a need for increased attention to the spillover effect of police work.

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Grant Sponsor:

The Centers for Disease Control, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

Grant Number:

1R03OH003772-01.

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The findings and conclusions in this report are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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Correspondence to John M. Violanti.

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Violanti, J.M., Slaven, J.E., Charles, L.E. et al. Police and Alcohol Use: A Descriptive Analysis and Associations with Stress Outcomes. Am J Crim Just 36, 344–356 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12103-011-9121-7

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Keywords

  • Police
  • Alcohol use
  • Stress
  • Family spillover effect