The practice of law can be extremely rewarding but comes with an elevated level of stress and pressure. Passing the bar exam is stressful. Then, there is the stress of not being able to find employment. Finally, after getting a job, there is the stress of not meeting expectations after being hired by a prestigious law firm. Consequently, attorneys are more prone to drink and become addicted than other professionals.
Due to the power, money, and prestige of law firms, there is an elevated level of pressure to perform. Stress, anxiety, depression, and other mental health problems can lead to substance abuse. Lawyers need to be aware of these risks and take steps to protect themselves. We will discuss the dangers of working in a demanding profession and what you can do to stay healthy and sober while practicing law.
What is the Link Between Law and Alcoholism and Addiction?
There is no doubt that alcohol and drugs can have a profound impact on the lives of lawyers. Financial difficulties, social problems, and health issues can result from poor decisions and erratic behavior. Excessive alcohol consumption can also lead to making costly mistakes in court. According to the NIAAA criteria, men who drink more than four drinks a day and over fourteen a week and women who drink more than three drinks a day and over seven a week are classified as alcoholics. Frequently drinking alcohol during meetings with clients or colleagues during working lunches and drinking after work to relax after a stressful day will often suffice to qualify for a drug or alcohol abuse disorder.
While lawyers strive to serve justice, the practice of law itself can cause addiction. They are constantly under pressure. Lawyers who specialize in criminal defense work with clients who are at greater risk of being arrested and imprisoned without a strong defense. Meanwhile, prosecutors must work late into the night to sort through the evidence to prevent the perpetrators of crimes from escaping justice. Because of the constant pressure to perform in high-stake situations, it can be difficult to break the cycle of alcoholism and addiction.
What are the Symptoms of Alcoholism and Addiction in Lawyers?
The effects of alcoholism and addiction can negatively impact a person’s career and other aspects of their life. This is also true for attorneys. Addiction and alcoholism are quite common among legal professionals. People with alcoholism and addiction may display different symptoms, but some common symptoms may indicate a problem.
Among the more obvious signs of addiction are the neglect of work responsibilities, missed deadlines, inadequate performance reviews, and extended absences from the workplace. As soon as you notice any of these symptoms in yourself, seek help. Alcoholism and addiction are treatable disorders, but they won’t go away by themselves. Through treatment, it is possible to recover from this disease and return to a productive and healthy life.
What Legal Professionals Can Do to Avoid Addiction to Alcohol and Drugs
Many lawyers turn to alcohol and drugs to cope with the stress of the legal profession. Several reasons contribute to this, from a lack of support from colleagues to the extremely exacting standards of the legal profession. Addiction can have grave consequences both personally and professionally when it spirals out of control. A lawyer must be aware of the warning signs of addiction and understand how alcohol contributes to it.
There are a few things lawyers can do to avoid addiction. One of the first steps to coping with stress is to develop healthy coping mechanisms. Exercise, meditation, journaling, and time spent with friends and family are possible activities. Secondly, it is wise to refrain from drinking too much alcohol. If drinking becomes a crutch, it may be time to seek help. Further, building a support network of friends, family, and colleagues is helpful for accountability and guidance. By taking proactive measures, legal professionals can greatly reduce the risk of becoming addicted to alcohol or drugs.
If you are a lawyer with an addiction, you may feel embarrassed, ashamed, and alone. We can help you change your story from addiction to recovery. We offer a variety of programs to help you restore balance and live your best life. To find out more about our programs or to speak with one of our counselors, please call 772-266-5320.