Through one job, I network extensively with police officers, who partner with the Health Unit for important community service work on various topics, including alcohol use and impaired driving. Together, we try to encourage a culture of moderation and wise choices through policy, education and awareness.
Conversely, within my other place of employment, I perform health assessments on incoming ‘clients’, and I see how alcohol intertwines with crime, violence, abuse, and addiction. Often, inmates are dealing with crimes they committed while they were intoxicated. In fact, recent studies have indicated that alcohol intoxication coincides with up to 40% of crimes leading to arrest.
Commonly, we as nurses don’t know what inmates have done or what they are accused of – it could bias our care. Yet, we assess specifically for alcohol-use during our admittance interviews. As such, we often detect alcoholism, the presence of injuries relating to falls or those sustained while being arrested, and the nature of the crimes that were committed, often involving violence and aggression.
I would be interested to hear from police officers and emergency room nurses and their experiences with intoxicated suspects and patients. I can only guess that they have many first hand stories – not just the aftermath that we see in the Correctional setting.