August 21, 2014

Betty Ford Center to study substance abuse among lawyers.

Practicing law can be stressful, which may be one reason that, historically, lawyers and others in the field have had high rates of substance abuse and mental health issues. Now, the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation and the American Bar Association are partnering to study the problem, and identify potential solutions for legal professionals.

“Available estimates peg the addiction rate of attorneys to be roughly twice that of the general population,” said Patrick R. Krill, J.D., Director of the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation's Legal Professionals Program. “Those estimates are quite dated though, and it appears the problem may be growing even worse. It's time to update the research and in doing so highlight the apparent need to devote more attention and allocate greater resources to this important issue.”

The research aims to establish an updated understanding of substance abuse in the legal professions, as well as initiating programs and discussions that will increase awareness and reduce stigma surrounding entering treatment for substance abuse.

“Having well conducted, current research on how these issues impact our profession will help us to better target our resources and provide the best assistance we can to our profession,” said Terry Harrell, the Chair of the American Bar Association Commission on Lawyers Assistance Programs. “In addition, this research will help inform the work of lawyer discipline, judicial discipline, lawyer admissions, and all those providing treatment to judges, lawyers, and law students.”

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