15 March 2008

Alcoholism, Mental Health and Lawyers

Alcohol, drugs and other additions are the number one reason that Washington lawyers seek confidential assistance, making up 38% of their cases. Another 25% seek help related to stress or life transitions, and 20% seek help for mental health problems like depression or anxiety.

Various studies over the years have shown the rate of alcoholism in the general population ranges from 8 percent to 10 percent. Additional studies have indicated that from 17 to 19 percent of lawyers have alcohol problems. . . . One survey done in 1990-91 and 2002-03, the North Carolina State of the Profession and quality of Life Survey, showed 17% of the 2,600 lawyers surveyed reported consuming thee to five alcoholic beaverages on the days they drank and a similar number using prescription medication to reduce anxiety or depression, with 6 percent using mood-altering substances other than alcohol or prescription drugs. Another study referenced in the Journal of Law and Health 1 indicated 17 percent to 19 percent of lawyers have an alcohol problem. In addition, a survey of 801 lawyers in Washington State indicated 17 percent were problem drinkers. . . .In the survey of Washington State lwayers mentioned above, 19 percent suffered from depression. In another study measuring the prevalence of depression in 28 different occupations in different locations around the country, lawyers were most likely to suffer from depression.

[1] Beck, C. J.A. Sales, B., and Benjamin, G.A. H., "Lawyer Distress: Alcohol-Related Problems and Other Psychological Concerns Among a Sample of Practicing Lawyers," Journal of Law and Health, 1995-1996, 10(1), pp. 1-60.

[2] G.A.H. Benjamin, E.J. Barling & B.D. Sales, The Prevalence of Depression, Alcohol Abuse, and Cocaine Abuse Among United States Lawyers, 13 International Journal of Law and Psychiatry 233 (1990).

[3] W.W. eaton, J.C. Anthony, W. Mandel & R. Garrison, Occupations and The Prevalence of Major Depressive Disorder, 32 Journal of Occupational Medicine 1079 (1990).


Treatment effectiveness is a sometimes thing.

[S}ome recent statistics indicate 25 percent of patients who received treatment were were completely abstinent a year later, and an additional 10 percent had significantly reduced their drinking to moderate levels and experienced no problems. In another study, 50 percent of patients were drinking significantly less after one year following treatment, and 36 were abstinent three years after treatment. The efficacy rates tend to vary some by study and treatment modality. Studies have shown the rates of efficacy for addition treatment are similar to rates for other chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, and asthma.


Health sources recommend moderate drinking or less, which means two drinks or less a day for men and one drink per day for women.

Source: An interview with Denise J. Perme, Director of the District of Columbia Bar Lawyer Assistance Program in the March 2008 edition of Washington Lawyer magazine.

1 comment:

vanessa said...

I think lawyers should visit rehabilation center and try to quit alchohol,which will help them again concentrate on their work.