Understanding Addiction in Lawyers: How to Find Help

Addiction affects millions of Americans each year. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), 48.7 million people suffer from addiction.

While the media portrays addiction in one very specific manner, it can look different from person to person. Frequently, people in high-stress professions deal with substance abuse issues and are reluctant to seek help due to professional image or fear for their livelihood.

One of the top careers affected by addiction is the legal profession. Law students and lawyers deal with high-stress levels, from long work hours to difficult court cases. Experiencing this amount of stress often contributes to the likelihood of drug or alcohol abuse.

Substance abuse and lawyers have a complicated relationship. It can be extremely difficult to find support when your job requires so much time and effort. Thankfully, there are outpatient detox and treatment programs that allow lawyers to get the help they need while maintaining their professional responsibilities and public image.

Do Lawyers Experience Addiction at Higher Rates?

study published in the Journal of Addiction Medicine outlines how common substance use disorders are among legal professionals.

Researchers found that 1 in 5 lawyers abuse alcohol and often suffer from alcoholism. Only 10.5% of the general population has an alcohol use disorder, which means lawyers engage in problematic drinking at extremely high rates.

During this study, experts also looked at how often lawyers abused recreational substances every week. The findings include:

  • 74.1% of lawyers abused stimulants
  • 51.3% of lawyers abused sedatives
  • 31.0% of lawyers misused marijuana
  • 21.6% of lawyers abused opioids

While over 70% of lawyers reportedly abused stimulants, only 2% of the general population does so. As you can see, illicit drug abuse also occurs at a much higher rate among lawyers.

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What Causes Lawyers to Struggle With Addiction?

Whether you are currently in law school or working as a lawyer, you are dealing with significant stress. The legal profession demands grueling hours of work and dedication. Unfortunately, this leaves you little time to care for yourself outside of work or school and deal with that stress in a healthy way.

In addition to high levels of stress, many lawyers deal with vicarious trauma. Vicarious trauma, also known as secondary traumatic stress, is a psychological phenomenon that occurs when individuals are indirectly exposed to traumatic events through hearing about, witnessing, or working with those who have experienced trauma firsthand. Lawyers hear intimate details about crimes, family drama, and more. Hearing these details can cause them to experience trauma themselves.

When you combine trauma, stress, and long work hours with little time for proper self-care, you have a recipe for substance abuse and the development of addiction. Even further, lawyers might go to a doctor to receive anxiety medication to cope. While medication can be helpful, it could also result in prescription drug abuse or addiction.

Prescription Drug Abuse By Lawyers

Prescription drug abuse among lawyers extends beyond anxiety medications to include stimulants like Adderall. Lawyers and other professionals sometimes use stimulants like Adderall as Performance Enhancing Drugs (PEDs).

The high-stress nature of the legal profession often leads lawyers to seek ways to enhance their workplace performance and productivity. Misusing prescription stimulants like Adderall can lead to physical dependence which can escalate to more severe substance abuse issues

In some cases, individuals may transition from using prescription stimulants to illicit drugs like methamphetamine, exacerbating the problem further. By identifying the signs of addiction and seeking help early on, legal professionals can prevent prescription drug abuse from escalating and regain control over their lives before their career, family, or well-being is affected.

Signs of Addiction Among Lawyers

Most people only recognize addiction when someone has outward signs. For example, there is a stereotype of addiction that causes most people to assume you cannot hold a job or take care of yourself. In reality, many individuals suffer from addiction that is hard to identify from the outside.

More often than not, lawyers struggle with high-functioning addiction. The signs of high-functioning addiction include:

  • Making up excuses for substance abuse
  • Denying that you have a problematic relationship with drugs or alcohol
  • Using more drugs or alcohol than you intended to
  • Spending most of your free time with people who abuse substances
  • Frequent hangovers in the mornings
  • Leading a double life, where you engage in substance abuse on the weekends instead of every day
  • Maintaining the illusion of success but suffering internally
  • Dealing with urges or cravings to misuse substances
  • Concealing withdrawal symptoms when you cannot drink or use drugs
  • Lying to friends and family about how much substances you abuse
  • Hiding bottles of liquor or drugs on your desk at work
  • Viewing alcohol or drugs as a reward for working hard
  • Using substances to unwind after work or cope with difficult emotions

How to Receive Addiction Support as a Lawyer

If you are a lawyer struggling with substance abuse, you might think you do not have time for treatment. While inpatient rehab might not be feasible, you can make outpatient treatment work.

Many outpatient treatment centers will work with your schedule. If you have to go to work at certain hours of the day, your rehab program will schedule treatment sessions during other times. This means receiving the help you need while maintaining your career as a lawyer is possible.

Additionally, the ABA Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs will ensure you have access to the support you need. This program works with you to offer support for alcoholism, substance abuse, and mental health conditions.

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Why Cobb Outpatient Detox is the Best Choice for Lawyers

The first step in recovering from addiction is medical detox. To explain, addiction to drugs and alcohol causes your body to become dependent on a substance. If you suddenly stop using a drug, you will experience withdrawal symptoms.

Medical detox centers can prescribe medications and facilitate therapies to prevent your withdrawal symptoms from becoming severe. While some detox programs are inpatient, Cobb Outpatient Detox offers a more convenient option.

Our outpatient detox program for lawyers allows you to recover from withdrawal with minimal impact on your daily life. Outpatient detox is a discreet option that ensures you receive the care you need. Additionally, you can continue working during our detox program if necessary.

At Cobb Outpatient Detox, your care will be managed with medication to ensure a safe withdrawal and minimize discomfort. You will also have regular check-ins to ensure you remain stable and comfortable. Instead of requiring you to live at the facility, we offer exclusive detox treatment in the comfort of your own home.

If you need your treatment sessions to complement a busy work schedule, we will find the right program for you.

At-Home and Discreet Detox Treatment for Lawyers in Marietta, GA

If you are a lawyer who suffers from addiction, Cobb Outpatient Detox is here to help. Our confidential outpatient detox services in Marietta, GA are designed to help lawyers recover while still enabling them to succeed in their careers. Contact us today to learn more about our convenient outpatient detox program for lawyers and other professionals.

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