US Lawyers Have A Serious Drinking Problem, Study Reveals

Posted: Feb 7 2016, 12:06am CST | by , Updated: Feb 7 2016, 12:09am CST, in News | Latest Science News

US Lawyers Have a Serious Drinking Problem, Study Reveals
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One in three practicing lawyer in United States is a heavy drinker. In addition, 28% suffer from depression while 19% have experienced symptoms of anxiety

American lawyers have a serious drinking problem. Moreover, they are struggling with depression and anxiety more commonly than the people from other professions, a new research finds.

The research conducted by American Bar Association alongside Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation has found that one in three practicing lawyers in United State are having drinking problem as they are consuming alcohol at a level which is considered “hazardous, harmful, and potentially alcohol-dependent drinking.” About 28% are suffering from depression while 19% have experienced mild symptoms of anxiety during the course of their legal careers.

“This long-overdue study clearly validates the widely held but empirically undersupported view that our profession faces truly significant challenges related to attorney well-being,” said attorney and clinician Patrick Krill and lead author of the study.

“While the numbers themselves are disheartening, the instructive value of the information is enormous and tells us that the problem is best approached from a systems perspective.”

For the study, more than 12,000 licensed lawyers from 19 states around the country have been surveyed. In the survey, they were asked questions about their alcohol use and mental health issues.

Researchers found that more than 35% of lawyers are heavy drinkers, based on the volume and frequency of alcohol consumed. And the rate is shockingly higher than 15% of surgeons and physicians who are struggling with substance abuse. On average, 6.8% of common Americans have a drinking problem.

Overall, the highest rate was observed in lawyers under 30 (31.9 percent) and junior associates at law firms (31.1 percent), which is an indication that young lawyers are especially struggling to cope with the stress at work compared to senior lawyers.

“The new research demonstrates how the pressures felt by many lawyers manifest in health risks.” American Bar Association President Paulette Brown said.

In addition, 28 percent of lawyers reported high or mild levels of depression, 19 percent had anxiety while 23 percent said they experience stress.

“Any way you look at it, this data is very alarming and paints the culture of an unsustainable professional culture that’s harming too many people. Attorney impairment poses risks to the struggling individuals themselves and to our communities, government, economy and society,” said Krill.

“Attorneys, law schools and law firms really need to get honest about these issues and get proactive. Until they do that, lawyer assistance programs wont’ be able to shoulder the load. We need a systematic response and we now have the opportunity to make some meaningful progress on this issue.”

The study was published in Journal of Addiction Medicine.

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Hira Bashir covers daily affairs around the world.




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