Drug And Alcohol Abuse In The Legal Profession

The presence of employees with substance use disorders in the workplace is a serious issue. Over 77%* of illicit drug users are employed and the loss of productivity resulting from drug and alcohol abuse is significant. Alcoholism alone is responsible for 500 million lost work days** each year. “Alcohol and drugs know no social, economic or educational barriers, and legal professionals face unique stressors,” says leading Addiction Expert Dr. Indra Cidambi, Medical Director at the Center for Network Therapy. In fact, lawyers are almost twice as likely*** to struggle with alcohol abuse when compared to the general population.

“Lawyers start facing very heavy workloads and conflicts with their value systems right when they enter law school, and they may use alcohol or drugs to cope,” says Dr. Cidambi. “They also suffer from disproportionately higher rates of mental health issues, which may provide access to prescription medication that could be addictive.” As per a 2016 study**** more than 1 in 5 lawyers reported that they felt that their use of alcohol or other drugs was problematic at some point in their lives, and, of these, nearly 3 of 4 reported that their problematic use started after they joined law school.

It is evident from these statistics that people in the legal profession are at an elevated risk of experiencing substance use disorders. Consequently, they need to be proactive in reaching out and leaning on their support system before they feel overwhelmed and trapped.

Dr. Indra Cidambi discusses the primary factors that lead to substance abuse among lawyers and suggests actions they could take to prevent falling into the addiction trap:

Law School Tests Their Mettle

“For many students, the excitement of getting into law school ends when they start school,” says Dr. Cidambi. Excessive workloads and intense competition with like-minded perfectionists leads to long hours of study and creates an enormous amount of stress. Additionally, the emphasis on analysis makes many students lose their connection to their original reason for joining law school – passion for the law or helping people. “Students, therefore, turn to alcohol or drugs to relieve tension and relax,” adds Dr. Cidambi.

Work – Not As Noble Anymore

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