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Alcoholism, Depression Alarmingly High Among American Attorneys: Survey

Update Date: Feb 08, 2016 11:48 AM EST

American attorneys have a serious alcohol problem, noticeably prevalent among junior associates trying to climb the success ladder in a highly competitive and stressful profession.

A study based on data from nearly 13,000 licensed legal practitioners revealed that drinking was a problem among nearly 20 percent of lawyers surveyed; it was three times higher than prevalence among the general American public, according to The Washington Post.

"Attorneys experience problematic drinking that is hazardous, harmful, or otherwise consistent with alcohol use disorders at a higher rate than other professional populations," the study's authors wrote in the Journal of Addiction Medicine.

According to the study, the problem is pronounced among young lawyers not older than 30. In the group, researchers found that nearly a third of them reported to be heavy drinkers.

The study's authors said that the work culture, the stress in the profession and the tendency of young Americans to consume alcohol, can be attributed to the problem.

"Any way you look at it, this data is very alarming and paints the picture of an unsustainable professional culture that's harming too many people," said co-author Patrick R. Krill. "Attorney impairment poses risks to the struggling individuals themselves and to our communities, government, economy and society. The stakes are too high for inaction."

The study also found that 28 percent of the lawyers surveyed reported experiencing depression, which is also higher than the average for general public. High rates of anxiety and stress were also reported. Though the profession allows its practitioners easy access to abuse programs, not many seek help given that personal inadequacies are seen as unacceptable during the grooming years.

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