Enjoying an adult beverage in moderation and having a limited number of caffeinated beverages a day may not be harmful, but excessive consumption of either will lessen your resistance to stress. Our research reveals some frightening results – that nearly half of all first responders say they have a hard time avoiding excessive alcohol and/or caffeine at least some of the time!
Even so-called “tee-totalers” (total abstainers from alcohol) are likely to believe that consumption of alcohol in moderation has little, if any, ill effects on the consumer. But that is not what we are talking about here. The relationship between alcoholism and stress is not in dispute, and the relationship between first responders coping with extreme amounts of stress and attempting to find relief through alcohol consumption is not in dispute either. It is no coincidence that in a study done regarding police suicide, data showed that the majority of the individuals completing a suicide had alcohol in their system at the time. While a drink, sometimes two, can be okay, excessive drinking can cause a great deal of turmoil in other parts of the individual’s life and contributes to greater amounts of stress in the long run. It is best to find other methods of coping with stress that do not actually exacerbate the problem.
Police officers and other first responders in many communities get free coffee from local shops, and they supplement that with sodas with high caffeine content as well as energy drinks that give that short burst from both the caffeine and sugar contained in them. But do you know why you need that boost at all? Because you have a caffeine addiction. People addicted to caffeine use some form of it to start their day, then consume more throughout the day as they suffer from caffeine crashes, then they find their sleep disturbed by caffeine, so they are tired in the morning, and they need caffeine to jump-start their day . . . and you can see how the cycle perpetuates. In the long run, caffeine consumption does not alleviate stress, but contributes to its grip on the life of the individual.
- Do I drink primarily to be social with others?
- Do I drink because I believe it relieves stress?
- Am I capable of proving to myself that I can go for extended periods without alcohol or caffeine?
If you’d like to speak to one of our peer support specialists about how to manage the stress of work or life in general, feel free to reach out to us at m.me/callforbackup.org/ and someone will be happy to chat with you. If you are in crisis, please text the keyword BADGE to the National Crisis Text Line where you can be connected to a trained crisis counselor, 24/7/365. Always free. Always confidential.
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