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New Hazelden Betty Ford research tracks substance abuse among legal professionals

August 20, 2014
by Julie Miller
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Addiction rates among attorneys are twice that of the general population—and growing—according to the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation. The foundation has created a new collaborative effort with the American Bar Association Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs to survey the current rates of substance use, depression and anxiety among licensed attorneys throughout the United States.

“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,” said Patrick R. Krill, J.D., director of the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation's Legal Professionals Program, in a press release.

 Expected benefits of this research include:

  • A new baseline understanding of where the legal profession currently stands in relation to substance use and other mental health problems.
  • An increased spotlight on these issues, including cultural norms related to drinking, drug use, and psychological wellbeing.
  • Policy development in the following key areas: funding for Lawyer Assistance Programs, continuing legal education requirements, bar examination and admission requirements, discipline guidelines and procedures, malpractice, prevention, diversion, monitoring, early intervention, referral to treatment, strategies to reduce stigma, and increased career satisfaction and longevity among members of the bar.
  • Knowledge to reduce the barriers that legal professionals experience in gaining access to assistance, treatment, and ongoing rehabilitation.

The ABA Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs educates the legal profession concerning alcoholism, chemical dependencies, stress, depression, and other emotional health issues, and assists all bar associations and lawyer assistance programs in developing and maintaining methods of providing effective solutions for recovery.

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