12 July 2023
A helpline is being made available to those who are suffering from addiction, helping to ensure they receive the correct support when they need it most.
Help4Addiction can provide confidential support for police officers, staff and their families, shaped around their unique personal circumstances.
Former cop Nick Conn, the founder and CEO of Help4Addiction, says he hopes his team can act as a bridge between the police family and addiction services - a lifeline that would have helped him when he was training to join the police service more than 20 years ago.
“I know how isolating and lonely it can feel when you’re living with an addiction, especially when you are in the police,” said Nick, who reveals how he became dependent on cocaine when he was training to join the Metropolitan Police at 19.
“I had low self-esteem and I found that taking cocaine helped to boost my confidence. I ended up using cocaine to get through my exams. And, to be honest, I don’t think that’s uncommon when officers are feeling stressed and under pressure.”
Nick went on to leave the police, before finding his life spiralling as he become more reliant on drugs, which led to him eventually becoming homeless.
“I remember thinking ‘I’m done’ and so, I eventually revealed what I was going through to my family, who were amazing,” continued Nick, who, after a stressful search for support, spent three months in a rehabilitation centre. He has been clean for 14 years.
“I was brought up really well. I was part of a nice family and I came from a good background. Addiction can happen to anyone and once you enter an unhealthy relationship with such substances, you just spiral.
“What I found though was that when you need that support most - at a time of complete crisis - it’s so confusing knowing where to turn. The amount of options out there available, it’s like a minefield.
“So, when I left rehab, I started doing my own research. And with just £46 to my name, I set up Help4Addiction and now we are the largest addiction advice organisation in the country.”
If somebody is suffering from addiction or knows somebody who is, then they can contact Help4Addiction, who will then connect them with the appropriate support based on their budget and needs.
Nick added: “When people call us, they are generally at rock bottom and they have no idea what to do - they assume going to rehabilitation is the only option but it might not suit their needs.
“It’s always been a dream of mine to provide support for officers and their families because I know exactly how they are feeling.
“I want officers and their families to reach out to us if they are suffering. Policing is hard at the moment, it’s full of enormous pressure and demand, and then on top of that, they are facing financial issues. It’s relentless. You can see why so many people are turning to substances as a way of getting through their lives.
“And it’s not just drugs, it’s alcohol too, as well as gambling or porn. Whenever a person starts to develop an unhealthy relationship with something, that’s when it’s a problem.”
Derbyshire Police Federation chair Tony Wetton said: “There’s a huge stigma surrounding addiction in the police force but, in reality, it happens - we are all human after all. But what are the options for our members?
“They don’t always want to talk to the Federation or their line manager, because they feel it might put their career at risk.
“Help4Addiction gives our members access to confidential advice, external to the police, often when they need it most.”
If you or somebody is suffering from addiction and needs support, call Help4Addiction on: 0330 058 8227