The role of an attorney has long been considered a gold standard of professions in our society. Becoming a lawyer is an accomplishment that kids aspire to from a young age. However, the pressures of actually practicing law present unique challenges to attorneys. To understand why addiction is common in the legal field, you must look at the many demands of the job.
From long hours to a culture that accepts and sometimes encourages drinking, attorneys are inundated with reasons to turn to substances for relief. But everyone who uses drugs or alcohol to alleviate stress and depression eventually finds that it becomes an even greater source of suffering.
Here are a few reasons why addiction is common in the legal field…
Mental Health is a Concern Among Attorneys
A study on addiction and mental health in the legal field sheds light on the challenges facing lawyers.
- About 28 percent of attorneys live with mild or higher levels of depression.
- Nearly half have faced depression at some point in their careers.
- One out of five lawyers currently experiences anxiety, and more than six out of 10 have dealt with it in their professional lives.
- More than one out of 10 attorneys report suicidal thoughts at some point in their careers.
These numbers are alarming. They paint a picture of a field in which people struggle with debilitating mental health issues. When you consider the challenges of the job and the exposure to alcohol use, you begin to understand why addiction is common in the legal field.
Pressures of Working at a Large Firm
Research suggests that problematic drinking is more common among attorneys working at private firms and for the bar association than it is for attorneys who are self-employed. Competition is fierce in these environments, and high expectations are difficult meet.
An attorney working at a large firm will likely have less control over their workloads, which is more likely to cause stress and depression. When time spent outside of the office involves alcohol or drug use, the hours in the office become more stressful.
Working in a Culture Where Drinking is Common
Around one-fifth of attorneys surveyed show signs of problematic drinking. Compare that to a rate of about 12 percent other highly educated workforces. The prevalence of alcohol in the legal field why drinking is part of the culture for many attorneys.
For some attorneys, socializing is synonymous with drinking. In these situations, it might be easier for an attorney to drink alcohol than to abstain. This creates a serious problem for people who find it difficult to control their alcohol consumption.
Being an Attorney is a Stressful Job
When you practice law, you don’t just have co-workers and bosses who expect you to give everything to your job. You also have clients whose livelihoods depend on your ability to excel at what you do. You might even have a family that you struggle to spend time with. These pressures mount, and attorneys look for relief in any way possible.
When drugs or alcohol inevitably leads to even greater problems, some attorneys realize that they need to look for healthier ways to deal with their challenges. If you are an attorney who struggles with substance use or you know someone who does, know that there is a better way forward.
So many people who work in the legal field don’t realize that they can deal with the challenges of practicing law if they give themselves the opportunity to find the right tools. Staying substance-free and practicing self-care enable you to navigate the many potential pitfalls in your everyday life.
It’s easy to see why addiction is common in the legal field. It’s also clear that substances aren’t the solution.
Contact Providence Treatment to Speak to Our Team
At Providence Treatment, we help professionals find a better way to deal with their problems. Attorneys come to us when they know they need help. Contact Providence Treatment today to speak to our staff about finding the right path for you.