UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Assessment of police perceptions of police drinking Shelton, Georgia


The law enforcement literature has recently begun to focus attention on the problem of alcohol use among police officers. However, to date the problem has been viewed within the framework of the "disease" model of alcohol addiction and the focus has been on the treatment of individual officers whose job performance has been seriously affected by heavy drinking. Anecdotal evidence, on the other hand, indicates that the heavy and consistent use of alcohol is a widespread and accepted phenomenon among large sections of the police force. There is a substantial body of theory which relates socialization processes and job stress problems to the development of homogeneous attitudes and beliefs. These attitudes and beliefs may, in turn, serve to support the heavy use of alcohol by police officers. The objective of the proposed study was to assess the extent of alcohol use among local police and to determine the perceptions held by this target population concerning the reasons for the existence of the problem. Particular emphasis was placed on the concept of job stress. This study is seen as a first step toward a comprehensive understanding of alcohol abuse by police. Questionnaire results confirmed heavy and consistent use of alcohol. The prime reason cited was as a relaxant. Having to deal with the suffering of others and being the target of abuse from citizens were the most often given sources of stress, and drinking with a colleague was seen as a "safe" way to unwind and an important way of staying in touch with colleagues. Results were discussed in terms of current conceptions in the alcohol literature. The recommendation of the report was in support of federal funding for a needed alcohol management programme.

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