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Posts Tagged ‘traumatic stress’

Comes with the Territory

October 9th, 2009

Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) can be of great help to staff who struggle with substance abuse issues. In my counseling practice with Corrections Officers over the past nine years I have noted an additional area of need which crops us frequently with corrections personnel—that of posttraumatic stress. In fact, these two areas of substance abuse and psychological traumatization may well be interrelated. The “dual” (double) diagnosis literature indicates that oftentimes substances, such as alcohol, are the tool people abuse to “muffle” (self-medicate) their posttraumatic symptoms and make them more tolerable for a short while.1

Posttraumatic stress takes a heavy toll on body, soul, and spirit.1 In addition to substance abuse, untreated posttraumatic stress may contribute to high turnover, sick leave, and early disability retirement in corrections. And it may be at least partly responsible for the high suicide rates among Corrections Officers.2

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Naked Truth

August 19th, 2009

A big part of the mission of Desert Waters Correctional Outreach ( is to draw attention to the high incidence of secondary traumatic stress and Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in the corrections ranks.

After talking with corrections staff and their family members for over 9 years now, I can say with reasonable certainty that a good number of correctional workers, especially security (custody) personnel, are struggling with symptoms of secondary traumatic stress or PTSD due to their exposure to horrifically violent incidents on the job. Read more…

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In Harm’s Way

July 28th, 2009

A while back I got a call from a dear friend, a CO. I picked up the phone casually, expecting a run-of-the-mill conversation. What I heard on the other end left me speechless, my heart aching for my friend and his wife, who is also a CO. (I’ll call them Vic and Christine. Even though what I am about to describe is public record, I still feel more comfortable not using people’s real names.)

Vic got to the point right away. “A few days ago I was viciously stabbed—totally unprovoked—by an inmate on my shift. It’s only by the grace of God that I survived.”

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Secondary Traumatic Stress

May 31st, 2009

During the course of his 15-year career in corrections, Marv has watched a multitude of videos of riots, and incidents of inmate-on-inmate and inmate-on-staff violence. He has also witnessed many such incidents first-hand. He’s had to cut several inmates down who had attempted or completed suicide by hanging. Years later, Marv vouches that nothing that he sees at work upsets him. He has learned to live in a cocoon of detachment, insulated from outside events and from his emotions. His loved ones at home tell him that he’s distant, uncaring, “cold.” Once in awhile though, horrific images visit him in his sleep, and cause him to awaken startled, his heart racing.  Read more…

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