The Recovery Blog

Substance Abuse Among Lawyers

While drug and alcohol abuse can affect anyone of any age, economic status, and occupation, there are certain professions that have a higher incidence of substance abuse than others.

Lawyers are among that group, as research has shown that attorneys are at greater risk for developing substance abuse problems.

In a study published in the International Journal of Law and Psychiatry it was reported that the rate of problem drinking for attorneys was 18%, compared to 10% in the general population.

There are a number of reasons for this statistic, including influences in the workplace, stress at work, and exposure to traumatic cases.

Causes of Substance Abuse Among Lawyers

Substance Abuse Among LawyersIt’s no secret that lawyers work long hours. This profession requires heavy workloads to be completed in strict time frames, and many attorneys have difficulty taking time off for relaxation.

Instead, many lawyers find themselves self-medicating with drugs or alcohol after a long, hard court case.

Studies have also found that there is an environment of tolerance for substance abuse among many lawyers. In a report published in 2001, among a sample of 559 attorneys, 66% reported social drinking connected to work (Shore, 2001). Many lawyers find it normal and acceptable to use alcohol as a means to not only socialize, but facilitate business as well.

Attorneys are often subjected to the disturbing details of their clients’ history. Being exposed to traumatic events, even when told through a second party, can impact lawyers over time. Many attorneys suffer from mental disorders as a result, leaving them more susceptible to self medicate with drugs or alcohol.

Help for Lawyers

In order to help reduce the incidence of substance abuse among lawyers, it is necessary to help these professionals learn how to deal with stress and negative emotions in a healthy way, how to take time off of work to relax and rejuvenate. It is also necessary to change the attitude in many law offices that currently accept alcohol abuse as normal.

Treatment for substance abuse among lawyers is available and can be very successful for those that are motivated to recover.  

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