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Work Balance: Protecting Lawyers from the Growing Drug Epidemic

At a large law firm, it is not uncommon for a lawyer to be away from the office for several days. As much as they are in the office, courtroom, and with clients, time off can quickly become just as long. Usually, an unplanned absence is due to exhaustion. Many lawyers seek medical treatment when they are stressed and exhausted, but sometimes a long absence is due to drug addiction. Self-medication is becoming more and more widespread. Especially for those in high-stress positions like lawyers often are. Alcohol abuse, as well as prescription medication have truly become an epidemic in some law firms.

Handling a Demanding Job

The legal field is very demanding, and a lawyer’s job can be overwhelming. Many lawyers deal with drug addiction issues. Nearly 20 percent of lawyers abuse alcohol or drugs. The rate is much lower in the general population, but there are several reasons why lawyers have a high drug addiction rate.

Pressure and Tight Deadlines

Attorneys have tight deadlines, and cannot afford to make errors. A sick day cannot be used as an excuse for missing an important deadline. For some attorneys, the pressure can be too much to handle. Many also work long hours with some working nearly 80 hours per week. After a long day at a law firm, these professionals often attend networking functions after business hours. Long hours can take a toll on an anyone’s mental state.

A Competitive Job Market

The job market is very competitive, and attorneys always need clients. In a competitive job market, new graduates will take low paying jobs and a low salary can lower self-esteem.

Stress and Mental Health Disorders

Some professionals blame mood swings on stress. Attorneys can have undiagnosed mental health disorders and things like anxiety and depression can affect overall well-being. If mental health issues are untreated, many try to relieve the symptoms with drugs and self-medication.

Reducing Stress and a Lighter Workload

Fortunately, there are several things attorneys can do to manage stress. A stressed attorney can seek support from counseling and peer support groups. A lighter workload will also reduce stress. Many firms are now in support of these kinds of therapy and some are even implementing them into work. Law offices often create formal policies that focus on team interventions. Attorneys can discuss their problems in a group setting and with peers who deal the same work, talking about these issues can be much easier this way.

Specialized Treatment Services

An addiction recovery facility can offer specialized treatment services when things get out of the hand. The trick is getting law offices to recognize and help lawyers who might be at risk. Therapists understand the demands of the legal field, and they can give confidential assistance. According to a Casa Nuevo Vida Sober Living facility, having patients stay for a longer amount of time is often more beneficial to a lasting recovery.

Drug dependence is treatable. A healthcare professional can develop a tailored treatment plan for anyone self-medicating. A good treatment plan will take into account the attorney’s medical history and past substance abuse problems.

Author Information: Eileen O’Shanassy is a freelance writer and blogger based out of Flagstaff, AZ. She writes on a variety of topics and loves to research and write. She enjoys baking, biking, and kayaking. Check her out on Twitter at @eileenoshanassy.

Bob Kraft

I am a Dallas, Texas lawyer who has had the privilege of helping thousands of clients since 1971 in the areas of Personal Injury law and Social Security Disability.

About This Blog

The title of this blog reflects my attitude toward those government agencies and insurance companies that routinely mistreat injured or disabled people. As a Dallas, Texas lawyer, I've spent more than 45 years trying to help those poor folk, and I have been frustrated daily by the actions of the people on the other side of their claims. (Sorry if I offended you...)

If you find this type of information interesting or helpful, please visit my law firm's main website at You will find many more articles and links. Thank you for your time.

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