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Substance Abuse & the Bar A Rare Approach to Treatment

study published in 2016 by the Journal of Addiction Medicine put stark numbers to what many attorneys likely see among their colleagues every day: the national bar has a substance abuse and wellness problem. The study, commissioned by the ABA and a private foundation found:

  • More than 1 in 5 attorneys are problem or dangerous drinkers.
  • Less than 1 in 10 respondents had sought treatment.

The results sounded an alarm within the legal profession and spurred a movement among the nation’s largest law firms to combat substance abuse issues.

But the study also showed attorneys were largely reluctant to seek the help they might need because they didn’t want their colleagues and others to know. That fear, combined with a general reluctance to acknowledge a substance abuse problem, can make it difficult to get lawyers the help they may need.

Dr. Deni Carise, a national addiction expert and Chief Scientific Officer of Recovery Centers of America, told CVN she wasn’t surprised by those barriers. “These are all folks that have high-level, high-profile careers. And there’s a real stigma around saying, ‘You know, I’m struggling with this. I need help,’” Carise said.

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