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Can working with vices cause addictions?

Can working with vices cause addictions?



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Paul Nelson reportingHow hard is it to stay away from illegal activity if you're surrounded by it every day? Does working around alcohol or illegal pornography lead to addictions?

We hear stories like these all the time: the DUI Patrol Squad leader arrested for driving drunk, the governor who says he's tough on crime engaging in illegal prostitution.

Is working around issues of vice, or illegal activity, too much of a temptation?

Author Dr. Bev Smallwood says, "Someone who maybe started out with integrity can gradually be exposed to the stimuli and become attracted."

However, some psychologists say it's usually the other way around. Dr. Smallwood says some people work to stop drunk driving or pornography or whatever it happens to be because they're already battling that same problem internally. "Sometimes almost in an unconscious way of fighting the demons, if you will, that are inside them." She added, "A policeman who is struggling with something like pornography or various vice may go on a campaign against it."

A group of policemen that has to deal with illegal pornography on a daily basis is the Utah Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (ICAC). Work on this task force can be traumatizing because of the images they have to see. Officers say it's one of the few areas in investigations where a crew member can request a transfer at any time.

Commander Rhett McQuiston said, "It's immediate. There are no questions asked. There is no black mark on their record. I've seen individuals who have done this after two weeks, and I've seen individuals do this after three or four years."

McQuiston says ICAC is an all-volunteer task force, and they screen applicants closely to ensure people are not applying because they're attracted to child porn. This screening process continues after the person is hired. He says, "I'll look to see if they're acting inappropriately. I'll also act to look to see if their demeanor starts to change, if they start to get bummed out or depressed."

McQuiston says the studies he's seen do not suggest that viewing child pornography breeds an appetite for it. "To be honest with you, it's quite disgusting to look at," he said.

McQuiston says he once became physically ill and vomited while investigating a case.

E-mail: pnelson@ksl.com

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