Tag Archives: Trauma

Trauma Therapy for Police Officers

Policemen and women make our communities stronger and safer every day. In doing so, they see daily conflicts, incidents, accidents and violence. This stress and pressure add up. Trauma can begin to impact the health and lives of law enforcement officers. However, this trauma and its effects are highly treatable.

What Is Trauma?

Trauma causes the brain to become over-aroused and active. It’s a natural response to a perceived threat, but that doesn’t mean it’s healthy.

Some trauma and stressors experienced by police officers may include the following:

  • Witnessing violent crimes
  • Entering dangerous situations such as violent households or robberies in progress
  • Entering in dangerous car chases
  • Constant stress of not knowing if criminals have a weapon or an intent to harm
  • Witnessing disasters, acts of terrorism and murder
  • Working with traumatized victims of crime
  • Accidentally or purposefully having to shoot another person
  • Witnessing or accidentally being involved in injury or death of a comrade
  • Fear of riots or retaliation

Even positive events like a marriage, new home or new baby can cause the brain to react. Trauma doesn’t have to be rooted in one big event. Regular job-related stress and pressure can add up. And when you’re a cop? Even “regular” stress is a lot more than the average person has to deal with.


What Are the Effects of Stress and Trauma?

Over time, the effects of trauma can really disrupt individual health, families, and careers. Stress contributes to mental health issues like depression and anxiety. Trauma can lead to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a lasting mental health concern with even more symptoms and long-term effects than even stress and trauma alone.

Some of these PTSD symptoms include the following:

  • Re-experiencing traumas through vivid memories, flashbacks or dreams
  • Depression
  • Anger and mood swings
  • Anxiety or panic attacks

Stress, trauma and PTSD can also contribute to substance use. When a person experiences overwhelming or unwanted emotions, he or she may turn to alcohol or other drugs in an attempt to self-medicate or numb certain feelings and symptoms.

Do Police Officers Really Experience That Much Trauma?

Mental health issues like depression and PTSD leave individuals feeling alone or isolated. However the reality is just the opposite — there is always hope, help and understanding. The PEW Trust reveals that 7 to 19 percent of our police officers report struggling with PTSD, which means that actual numbers are likely much, much higher due to individuals not getting a diagnosis or not wishing to share their diagnosis.1
Because officers often underreport symptoms of trauma and PTSD, substance use among police officers often exacerbates the problem. PEW Trust continues, “Police have a 69 percent higher risk of suicide than the average worker, and detectives have an 82 percent higher risk.” This risk doesn’t have to be so high. Treating trauma through therapy, compassion and empathy can lead to greater healing for individuals, families and communities.

How Do We Help Police Officers Address Trauma?

Trauma is real, and so is treatment. Several forms of therapy are effective methods for treating trauma. These therapy methods just have to be made standard and accessible. The shame and stigma surrounding getting help needs to be removed. Cops feel like they need to be superheroes. Or they may worry about their job security if they speak up and advocate for their own and others’ mental health. However, the only way to manage trauma and its effects is to treat it.

The World Health Organization explains that stress management techniques and healthy coping mechanisms, both learned through therapy, are effective tools for immediately responding to stress and its effects. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) can effectively treat PTSD. The WHO warns against only prescribing medication with no supportive therapy services.2

Medications can cause substance use issues when used as primary treatment regardless of whether or not they are prescribed by health professionals. However many of therapy options for trauma can be integrated with treatment for substance use and addiction.

Finding Help for Police Officers

Trauma and PTSD are human experiences. They are a reason to get help, not a reason to remain silent. Speak up, and find effective therapy options for yourself or a love one. Reach out to Michael’s House at 760-548-4032 to learn more about professional and compassionate mental health care. We are proud to work with police officers and soldiers to help them receive the best civilian addiction and mental health treatment available. Ask us how we can help you verify insurance benefits for treatment. We are fully licensed and HIPPA compliant, and all calls and conversations are confidential.


1 Fetterman, Mindy. “Cops Get Help to Cope With Trauma.” PEW Trusts. 20 Jul. 2017.

2 WHO Releases Guidance on Mental Health Care After Trauma.” World Health Organization. 6 Aug. 2013.

The Tragic Problem of Rohypnol, Roofies, and Trauma

In the early 1990s awareness increased about a drug that was often referred to as the “date rape” drug. Known on the streets as “roofies,” Rohypnol has never been approved for any medical use in the United States. Therefore, it is illegal to manufacture, distribute or possess Rohypnol in this country.

According to the Rape Treatment Center at Santa Monica – UCLA Medical Center, Rohypnol is the brand name for flunitrazepam. This drug is a benzodiazepine, which is the same category as medications, such as Valium and Xanax. Benzodiazepines are used primarily to produce sedation, sleep or muscle relaxation; to reduce seizures and anxiety; and to produce anterograde amnesia, a desired effect for some surgical procedures.

How is Rohypnol Used?

Since Rohypnol is illegal in the United States, the drug is smuggled into the country in pill form, crushed into powder or even in liquid form. People who intend to use the drug on an unsuspecting victim will often place either the pill or powder into a drink because it dissolves quickly and has no smell or taste.

What Are the Effects of Rohypnol Use?

The physical effects of Rohypnol may be noticeable within twenty to thirty minutes after ingestion, can last for several hours, and can include the following:

  • Drowsiness
  • Confusion
  • Impaired motor skills
  • Dizziness
  • Disorientation
  • Dis-inhibition
  • Impaired judgment
  • Reduced levels of consciousness

As a result, in a social setting that involves alcohol, many people who observe a person who has ingested Rohypnol will assume that the person is merely drunk. His or her speech may be slurred and the user may have difficulty walking – both common symptoms associated with excessive drinking.

However, a greater cause of alarm is when Rohypnol is combined with alcohol or other drugs. The combination can produce extremely low blood pressure, respiratory depression, difficulty breathing, coma or even death.

Trauma Associated with Rohypnol-Induced Rape

Woman hiding faceUnderstanding the impact of drugs that were used to facilitate rape was an assignment that the U.S. Attorney General gave to the Department of Justice in 1997.

The report, entitled, Drug-Facilitated Rape: Looking for the Missing Pieces, has provided considerable insight on this topic. While the research was unable to give specific statistics about the occurrence of drug-facilitated rape, it did provide several insights into the trauma associated with the rape.

Not surprisingly, many victims were as traumatized by the cruel and criminal act of being given the drug as they were by the physical rape that also occurred. Having been deprived of the ability to think clearly and having lost the ability to recall events causes many victims to struggle with a significant sense of powerlessness. Many victims of trauma suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms that include having recurrent, intrusive recollections, thoughts, flashbacks and nightmares.

To add insult to injury, for drug-induced rape victims, they are unable to have these flashbacks of a real experience and often have even more frightening assumptions because they do not know what in fact happened to them.


Reactions to Trauma Caused by Rohypnol-Induced Rape

Many people who endure a Rohypnol-induced rape do struggle with severe stress disorders that require care and treatment. Started in 1999, Helpguide.org is a nonprofit health organization that has a mission to provide free, unbiased information to people facing mental and emotional health challenges.

In their article on Emotional and Psychological Trauma, people who suffer with trauma can experience a range of emotional, psychological and physical symptoms including the following:

  • Shock, denial or disbelief
  • Anger, irritability, mood swings
  • Guilt, shame, self-blame
  • Feeling sad or hopeless
  • Confusion, difficulty concentrating
  • Anxiety and fear
  • Withdrawing from others
  • Feeling disconnected or numb
  • Insomnia or nightmares
  • Being startled easily
  • Racing heartbeat
  • Aches and pains
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Edginess and agitation
  • Muscle tension

Even experiencing these symptoms for a short period of time can have a significant negative impact on a person’s quality of life. Without treatment, these symptoms rarely diminish on their own, thus causing even more stress and discomfort in a person’s life.

Treatment for Trauma Caused by Rohypnol-Induced Rape

Many people struggle with the post-trauma healing process and are unsure of when to seek treatment. Helpguide.com identifies several conditions that should cause people to consider getting help, including the following:

  • Having trouble functioning at home or work
  • Suffering from severe fear, anxiety or depression
  • Unable to form close, satisfying relationships
  • Avoiding more and more things that remind you of the trauma
  • Emotionally numb and disconnected from others
  • Using alcohol or drugs to feel better

There are a variety of treatment options that are geared especially for dealing with trauma. It may make sense for you to understand your options and then seek a therapist who specializes in providing the treatment modality that you think will work best for you. Two common treatment options are cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), which helps you process and evaluate your thoughts and feelings about a trauma and EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing), which is designed to unblock traumatic memories so that you can work through them.

Regardless of the treatment method you choose, getting help should be your first priority. It is important for you to get treatment as soon as possible to mitigate the chance for your symptoms to worsen over time.


Get Help for Trauma

At a time that you are feeling a loss of power, it is important to reach out to get the treatment you need. We can help you do this, so please call our toll-free helpline today at 760-548-4032. Our admissions coordinators are available 24 hours a day to answer any questions you might have about treatment for trauma.