Alcohol abuse became a trademark of practicing lawyers as per the findings of the a major study published in the Journal of Addiction Medicine.
Becoming a lawyer is a sinuous journey prone to stress, financial debt and impossible workloads. As soon as a debutant lawyer joins the ranks of the profession, the situation doesn’t get any better. The research, a result of the partnership between the American Bar Association Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs and the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation is the largest research to look at alcohol abuse within the law profession.
Lawyers are more prone to depression and anxiety than people choosing other professions. It’s still unclear whether alcohol abuse is a symptom of these conditions, a cause or a perceived remedy. However, the research team found that 36 percent of practicing lawyers have an alcohol abuse problem. Clinical criteria labels extreme alcohol use as being:
“consistent with hazardous drinking or possible alcohol abuse or dependence”.
Over one fifth of practicing lawyers self-reported drinking problems during the course of the study. 28 percent of practicing lawyers reported being depressed. Moreover, 19 percent of the law professionals reported battling with anxiety symptoms.
The study found that there is a slight difference between practicing lawyers working in private firms and their peers employed in other environments. These law practitioners had higher levels of alcohol abuse. Senior associates and junior associates struggle the most with drinking problems.
Patrick Krill, director of the legal professionals program at the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation declared that:
“There is a sense that it is a perfect storm of variables that lead to higher incidence of drinking problems, partly to do with people who are attracted to the profession in the first place”.
The portrait of a person who is attracted to pursuing a career in law counts features such as driven, competitive, ambitious and hardworking. Well-being and overall health are left behind in the constant run for success and accomplishment.
However, the tendency to place well-being and health at the bottom of the priority list is encouraged by the high demands aspiring and practicing lawyers face. Any weakness is heavily punished in an highly competitive environment. As such, drinking problems and alcohol abuse may become the only coping mechanisms at times of increased stress.
Dysfunctional as they may be, these coping mechanisms have proved that alcohol abuse became a trademark of practicing lawyers.
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