In the U.S., 18 to 20 percent of lawyers are struggling with a with drug or alcohol addiction. Ironically, traits that fuel their success can also feed addictive behaviors.
“Because many lawyers and judges are overachievers who carry an enormous workload, the tendency to ‘escape’ from daily problems through the use of drugs and alcohol is prevalent in the legal community,” according to the American Bar Association (ABA).
Last week, the ABA House of Delegates proposed a plan urging law firms, law schools, bar associations, lawyer regulatory agencies and other legal employers to take concrete action to address the high rates of substance abuse and mental health issues in the legal profession.
In 2017, the National Task Force on Lawyer Well-Being presented a series of shocking statistics about the high rate of substance use and mental health disorders across the law profession. Within that report was a 2014 survey of law students where one-third of the group reported suffering from anxiety and 18 percent suffered from depression.
The issues don’t stop after graduation either. The Hazelton Betty Ford Foundation found that one in five lawyers over-drink on a regular basis and more than half admitted to suffering from depression at some point in their careers.
While this proposal is not binding for any organization in the legal field, it will hopefully encourage legal entities to pay more attention to the wellbeing and mental health of their fellow attorneys.
It’s common to have clients who are in high-profile careers seeking treatment for addiction and they’re often referred to as “high functioning addicts/alcoholics”. Due to the competitive nature of law firms, it’s easy to fall into an unstable work/life balance, ignore family and friends, and focus all efforts on being the best lawyer, winning a difficult case or being noticed by the partners.
Last year, The New York Times published “The Lawyer, The Addict” – a poignant story of a high-profile Silicon Valley attorney who died suddenly with the secret that he too was an alcoholic and struggling with drug addiction. At the New England Recovery Center, we have many clients who come from high-profile careers. After establishing methods of self-care, identifying triggers and setting life-long goals for their recovery, they return to work armed with the tools they need to succeed in their careers and their lives.
If you or somebody you love requires help for drug and alcohol addiction treatment, visit www.NewEnglandRecoveryCenter.com. The New England Recovery Center’s private pay residential treatment program offers evidence-based treatment, yoga, massage and more in state-of-the-art facilities on our 25-acre facility in Westborough, MA.