n Acta Criminologica: Southern African Journal of Criminology - The abuse of alcohol and other substances by rural police in South Africa

Volume 24, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1012-8093



Substance use and abuse are often associated with police work and exposure to trauma. A detailed description is provided on the extent of substance use and the effects thereof on a sample of 217 police officials. Substance use was assessed with the World Health Organisation's Alcohol, Smoking and Substance Involvement Screening, and exposure to trauma with the Post-Traumatic Diagnostic Scale. Alcohol (41% of respondents) and tobacco (28% of respondents) are the substances used most frequently. 18% of the respondents admit to experiencing problems related to alcohol use and 27% wish to minimise consumption or stop using it. The figures for tobacco use are 14% and 22%. Exposure to trauma results in an increased use of substances such as alcohol and tobacco products and the uptake of less socially accepted substances, such as cocaine, although the numbers for such uptake were small. Recommendations are made regarding the management of substance use in the police.

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