Lawyers at Risk for Depression, Alcoholism
| The practice of law is one of the most respected professions. Law practice attracts some of the best, brightest and most dedicated minds. The law is a profession that demands a higher level of knowledge and responsibility. From basic civil laws to complex contracts and property rights, business could not continue without the work of attorneys. We are a nation of laws – and attorneys will always play an integral part.
However, many of the lawyers we rely on to handle important legal matters are struggling with alcoholism, depression, and other mental health concerns. Recently, increased public attention has been given to the significant levels of depression and suicides in the legal profession.
A Significant Percentage of Practicing Attorneys are Problem Drinkers
Published in the Journal of Addictive Medicine, February 2016 – Volume 10 – Issue 1 :
The Prevalence of Substance Use and Other Mental Health Concerns Among American Attorneys
According to that study:
A sample of 12,825 licensed, employed attorneys completed surveys, assessing alcohol use, drug use, and symptoms of depression, anxiety, and stress.
Results: Substantial rates of behavioral health problems were found, with 20.6% screening positive for hazardous, harmful, and potentially alcohol-dependent drinking. Men had a higher proportion of positive screens, and also younger participants and those working in the field for a shorter duration (P < 0.001). Age group predicted Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test scores; respondents 30 years of age or younger were more likely to have a higher score than their older peers (P < 0.001).Levels of depression, anxiety, and stress among attorneys were significant, with 28%, 19%, and 23% experiencing symptoms of depression, anxiety, and stress, respectively.
Conclusions: Attorneys experience problematic drinking that is hazardous, harmful, or otherwise consistent with alcohol use disorders at a higher rate than other professional populations. Mental health distress is also significant. These data underscore the need for greater resources for lawyer assistance programs, and also the expansion of available attorney-specific prevention and treatment interventions.
Why are lawyers more likely to end their own lives than almost everyone else?
A Johns Hopkins study found lawyers have the highest rate of depression of any profession. Higher rates of depression often lead to substance abuse. Studies have shown that lawyers are more than three times more likely to be depressed than others, and roughly twice as addicted to alcohol or other drugs as the rest of the population. And, while not all people who are depressed commit suicide, a majority of those who commit suicide are depressed.
People who struggle with substance abuse are about six times more likely to kill themselves. There are some personality traits common among lawyers – self-reliance, ambition, perfectionism and competitiveness – that are not always consistent with healthy coping skills. These traits may not provide the emotional resilience necessary to endure the unrelenting pressures and unexpected disappointments that a career in the law can bring.
Emotional Resilience is Needed to Thrive in High Stress Professions
What is emotional resilience? Hara Estroff Marano, Editor-at-Large for Psychology Today, wrote in her article “The Art of Resilience”:
“At the heart of resilience is a belief in oneself—yet also a belief in something larger than oneself.
Resilient people do not let adversity define them. They find resilience by moving towards a goal beyond themselves, transcending pain and grief by perceiving bad times as a temporary state of affairs… It’s possible to strengthen your inner self and your belief in yourself, to define yourself as capable and competent. It’s possible to fortify your psyche. It’s possible to develop a sense of mastery.”
So how do we fortify our psyche to ride the waves of adversity rather than being pulled under by the torrent? How is it that some people handle incredible amounts of stress while others quickly fall apart?
Addiction Recovery – Solving Core Issues and Creating Resilience
At Arrowhead Lodge Recovery, we provide gender-specific addiction recovery for men age 30+. Our licensed addiction professionals work with the whole person. The Arrowhead Lodge Recovery Staff includes an MD in Addiction Medicine and an Addiction Psychiatrist; as well as our licensed addiction therapists and nutritionist.
We provide co-ocurring disorders therapy, including traumaand PTSD. It is our experience that addiction does not occur in a vacuum: Emotional factors contribute to addiction. Emotional issues and co-occurring disorders must be uncovered and treated to reach the core of addictive behaviors. When core issues are treated – it is possible to achieve a lasting recovery.
We know that for many who become addicted, not only does the root cause of the pain go unaddressed, but the pain of addiction and its associated physical, psychological, and social effects compound the original problem. A major factor in learning how to become – and stay – sober is strengthening emotional resilience. At Arrowhead Lodge Recovery, we work with our clients as a whole person to develop emotional resilience and enhanced coping skills. Our program incorporates Mindfulness Meditation and a Full Spectrum Approach to addiction treatment.
High Staff-to-Client Ratio Means Individualized Care
We know that successfully treating addiction requires a comprehensive approach that addresses not just the addiction, but the root cause of each man’s pain; as well as his physical and mental health. By maintaining a high staff-to-client ratio, Arrowhead Lodge Recovery is able to focus intensive therapy and attention to each man, and deliver truly individualized care.
Arrowhead Lodge Recovery has a strong Impaired Professionals Recovery Program. If you are monitored by a board that oversees your professional designation and require an assessment, addiction treatment, or both – our Professionals Well-being Program will provide the help you need.
This article, written by Kenneth Chance, originally appeared on https://www.arrowheadlodgerecovery.com/impaired-professionals-legal-profession/. Kenneth Chance is the founder and CEO/President of Arrowhead Lodge Recovery.
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