The legal profession is known to be demanding, especially for those who work as attorneys. Between meeting the needs of clients, preparing to appear in court, and spending long nights researching case law, the work can be stressful to say the least. While those in the legal profession need to be in their best state of mind to perform effectively, the unfortunate reality is that some may turn to substance abuse to cope with the demands of the job.

Rates of Substance Abuse in Legal Professionals

While it may seem that legal professionals would want to avoid turning to substance abuse out of fear of finding themselves facing their own legal troubles, the research suggests that attorneys are not immune to drug and alcohol abuse. A 2016 study in the Journal of Addiction Medicine surveyed over 12,000 attorneys and found that 20.6 percent demonstrated signs of hazardous drinking. Furthermore, 15.7 percent of those in the study admitted to sedative abuse within the previous year, whereas 10.2 percent indicated that they used marijuana. Opioid use was seen in 5.6 percent of participants, and 4.8 percent admitted to using stimulant drugs.

Another striking finding from the study above was that 84.1 percent of attorneys admitted to having used alcohol in the previous year, which is higher than the 69.5 percent of adults in the general population who consume alcohol in a given year. Furthermore, of those who indicated that they had used stimulants in the past year, 74.1 percent stated that they used these drugs weekly, indicating that frequent drug use may be common among attorneys abusing stimulants.

Reasons for Substance Abuse in the Legal Profession

Given the stressful nature of working in the legal field, it is not shocking that rates of substance abuse are so high in this profession. Keep in mind that stimulant abuse occurs in almost 5 percent of attorneys, which may be due to the high workload that attorneys face. In fact, recent reports indicate that abuse of stimulant medications like Adderall is becoming more common in the workplace, as professionals seek to meet deadlines and productivity demands.

Substance abuse among legal professionals may also be an attempt to cope with mental health challenges that come with a demanding job. In the study in the Journal of Addiction Medicine, 28 percent of attorneys presented with symptoms of depression; 19 percent had anxiety, and 23 percent experienced stress. Drug and alcohol use may provide a temporary relief from mental and emotional distress, but over time, addiction can make mental health worse, and begin to interfere with job performance.

Substance Abuse Treatment for Attorneys

Substances may offer a temporary reprieve from the stress and anxiety that comes with a demanding career in the legal field, but as substance abuse progresses, it is likely to bring devastating consequences, such as physical and mental health problems, and even difficulties performing at work or tending to a family. If you or a loved one is working in the legal field and having trouble giving up drugs and alcohol in spite of negative consequences, iRecoveryUSA is here to help. We offer confidential, comprehensive addiction treatment in a remote format, so you can begin your recovery journey without ever leaving home or putting your career on hold. Reach out to us today to learn more.