Hazelden study finds lawyers prone to problem drinking, depression


A new study from the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation finds problem drinking is far more common among lawyers than among those in other professions.

The study published in the Journal of Addiction Medicine (read it here) found that attorneys are also more likely to show symptoms of depression and anxiety.

Patrick Krill, who led the study, is a lawyer who also directs a treatment program for legal professionals at Hazelden's campus in Center City.

The study was done in conjunction with the American Bar Association and surveyed about 15,000 lawyers. An announcement of the results says 21 percent of the licensed, working attorneys qualified as problem drinkers. 28 percent struggle with some level of depression. 19 percent show symptoms of anxiety.

Krill tells the Star Tribune problem drinking is three times higher among lawyers than it is in the adult population as a whole.


Results of the study show the problems are most common among younger attorneys in their first ten years of practicing law.

A lawyer named Robert, who didn't want his last name printed, told the Chicago Tribune that as a young lawyer getting started at a firm, drinking became part of his identity: "There was a significant amount of pressure early on to fit in, and usually that is done through cocktails."

Robert told the Tribune his drinking made his work performance suffer, which led to depression, lying, and anxiety. He says he was thinking of killing himself before he got help and has now been sober for six years.

The study says the barrier to getting help that was cited most often by attorneys was the fear of others finding out.

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