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Are Lawyers at Risk for Substance Abuse?

Are Lawyers at Risk for Substance Abuse?

According to the American Bar Association (ABA), lawyers have unique pressures and demands associated with their profession, with strict schedules and heavy workloads. If stress is not dealt with properly, it can manifest in more physical ways: headaches, muscle tension or pain, chest pain, fatigue, changes in sex drive, sleeping problems, irritability, and more. Stress can reduce a person’s quality of life and, if not dealt with in healthy ways, can create other problems in one’s life. For lawyers who do not have the support or resources to manage stress effectively, substance abuse can become a major concern.

Self-medication occurs when a person attempts to reduce or diminish unwanted symptoms with alcohol or drugs; lawyers are susceptible to this because of the increasing demands of their position, the limited time they have to work on their mental health and stress, and no resources to rely on. A 2016 study published in the Journal of Addiction Medicine sought to explore the prevalence of substance use and mental health concerns among attorneys; a total of 12,825 attorneys completed surveys regarding their alcohol use, drug use, and symptoms of depression, stress, and anxiety.

Overall, results from the study showed substantial behavioral health problems, with 20.6% of participants screening positively for hazardous, harmful, and alcohol-dependent drinking. Symptoms of mental illness were also present, with 28% experiencing depression, 19% experiencing anxiety, and 23% experiencing stress. For lawyers, substance abuse could cause problems at work, home, school, social life, and more. Finances can easily become depleted if a professional is spending copious amounts of money on alcohol or drugs; continuous substance abuse and lack of proper care for depressive, anxious, or stress symptoms could also later lead on to the development of a diagnosed mental illness.

Thankfully, lawyer assistance programs (LAPs) are often available to support lawyers, judges, students, and other legal professionals who are experiencing a drug use disorder. Treatment for substance abuse often entails detoxification (and potentially medication), psychotherapy (both at the individual and group levels), and holistic activities such as exercise, yoga, meditation, acupuncture, and more. For many professionals in this field, treatment is an excellent time to take a break and focus on restoring one’s mind, body, and spirit.

If you haven’t already, speak with a professional from a reputable treatment center today to learn more about programs to best suit your needs. Recovery is possible.

The Center for Professional Recovery offers individualized treatment programs for professionals in a range of industries. Call us today for information on our specialized treatment: 855-422-4129

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