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Alcohol use on the rise in legal profession

February 19, 2016

A comprehensive study published in the Journal of Addiction Medicine presents the prevalence of problematic alcohol use and mental health issues in the legal profession.

The study found that lawyers in their first 10 years of practice presented with a higher rate of alcohol abuse and mental health issues than more senior lawyers. These findings are indicative of the prevalence of workplace stress and the insufficient mental health supports available, particularly in certain sectors and professions. The issue of stigma and confidentiality was noted in the study as the primary reason for lawyers to avoid seeking help for any mental health problems.

CMHA Ontario’s Mental Health Works program has recently started an adaptation for the justice sector. There is an emerging interest in the legal profession to begin to address mental health among lawyers with the help of programs like Mental Health Works in addition to professional workplace cultural changes to destigmatize mental health.

The study was jointly conducted by the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation and the American Bar Association Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs and also found that more than one in three practicing lawyers are ‘problem drinkers’.

For more information on the study, visit the Journal of Addiction Medicine website.

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