Page 40 - March 2021
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  Mental Health and Wellness Support
A resource guide for Chicago Lodge 7 members
 A message from EAP
 Professional Counseling Division CPD Employee Assistance Program
Widely trained clinicians and addiction counselors available 24/7/365
Peer Support Team
The peer support team includes 300 officers who have taken a 40-hour training
Call for help
    It’s time for a substance abuse check-up
Each month, the Professional Counseling Division of the Department’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP) provides a message to promote better mental health for Chicago Police Officers. This month, Officer Joseph Riley, an alcohol and substance abuse counselor with the Professional Counseling Division, shares how Chicago Police Officers can notice the warning signs of sub- stance abuse and look out for their brothers and sisters in blue.
Given the way the profession has been the past, well, year, it’s easy to find the path to relief is through self-medicating. Is your partner doing this? Do you notice any of your sisters and brothers drinking too much or pursuing other abusive behav- ior to deal with the cumulative stress?
It’s not hard to see the warning signs. You’re sitting in a pa- trol vehicle with your partner, and you notice that his or her physical appearance has changed: The eyes may be more sunken than usual from not sleeping well. Or you smell alco-
hol on the breath. The hair looks disheveled, like it hasn’t been touched in days. The uni- form isn’t as sharp as it was, and you haven’t heard the usual stories about going to the gym in months.
Oftentimes, addressing the problem is the most difficult part. Earnestly telling your partner that you care about him or her and want to make sure his or her mental health is OK can help get over the hurdle of isolation. But what if they’re not open to conversation?
Typically, when officers don’t think they need help — when they think they can manage their drinking or use of other sub- stances and not think it is self-medicating — it is because they are afraid to get help or don’t know what resources are avail- able. Guiding them to the EAP and showing them that the Pro- fessional Counseling Division assists officers confidentially is the first step in watching out for your brothers and sisters.
Every officer is different. If a group is standing on an eleva- tor, one officer might be ready to get off and get treatment at the fifth floor, whereas another may stay on until they hit the basement. But you don’t have to ride it out to rock bottom. You don’t have to lose your job or relationships before feeling like the situation is bad enough to address your substance abuse. There are resources to get help before your whole world falls apart.
It’s also important to remind any Chicago Police Officers who you see struggling that they’re not alone. On a daily ba- sis, law enforcement officers face the most difficult work chal- lenges of nearly any profession.
You see murders. You endure life-threatening situations. You face public scrutiny from the media and out on the streets. Af- ter years of untreated emotional trauma, it takes a toll on the psyche.
The healthiest coping mechanisms to keep this cumula- tive stress from leading to substance abuse can also be the simplest. Spend time with family. Make sure to engage with meaningful hobbies outside of work. Strengthen marriages and other non-work-related relationships.
But what if mental stress and trauma get to a point where it feels unmanageable?
Officers know how to survive on the street, but when off duty, some just want to be left alone. It feels too difficult to ask for help. That’s when they need partners who will watch for the warning signs and guide them to safe environments for healing.
When dealing with alcoholism specifically, one of the major barriers to break through is officers becoming angry or upset when addressing the issue. As time has shown, the alcohol and substance abuse counselors with the Professional Coun- seling Division have plenty of success stories about breaking down those barriers and addressing personal and work issues that may be fueling the downhill path.
Say you’re noticing some of the warning signs in a partner, and you feel like it’s time to turn his or her life around. Em- powering officers and ensuring that they don’t feel powerless in the situation is key. In the Department, there are peer sup- port programs, clinicians and drug and alcohol counselors ready to assist with a wide variety of mental health and sub- stance abuse concerns.
At the heart of the program is law enforcement officers help- ing other law enforcement officers. Getting help doesn’t mean an officer will lose his or her job. If one doesn’t seek treatment, the problem will only get worse.
Throughout the road to recovery, it might feel uncomfort- able not being in control for a while. There are also different stages of alcoholism, and the earlier stages don’t require a hos- pital detox or rigorous treatment to get back on track quickly.
The current immense stressors of the job make it more tempting than ever to self-medicate. But at the end of the day, seeking help is a relief. Keeping the welfare of your brothers and sisters in blue at the forefront of your mind can help save a life.

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