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Alcoholic Attorneys - What Does It Mean to Hit Rock Bottom?

By February 23, 2011

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Alcoholism is a widespread problem in the legal profession. Whether it is the high levels of stress involved in the profession, the number of lawyers who hate their jobs, or just something about law practice that attracts or enables those with substance abuse problems, the alcoholism problem among lawyers is undeniable.

In an interesting article in The Lawyerist called Alcoholic Attorneys Hit Bottom, one lawyer discusses what it is like to hit rock bottom as an attorney. Citing Sarah Allen Benton's book Understanding The High-Functioning Alcoholic, they list the following characteristics of lawyers who are high-functioning alcoholics:

  • Denial;
  • Living a double life of inward feeling compared with outward image;
  • Drinking habits including cravings and black-outs;
  • Capable of staying employed and high academic achievement;
  • Capable of sustained interpersonal relationships
  • Often able to work the system in legal matters relating to issues caused by drinking;
  • Often hit bottoms, but are unable to recognize or admit the realities;
  • Appear physically well-groomed.

To learn more about high-functioning alcoholics in the legal profession, read Alcoholic Attorneys Hit Bottom.

What are your thoughts about alcoholism in the legal profession? Do some people make too big of a deal about lawyers with drinking problems, or are clients at significant risk from substance abuse by attorneys? What do you think causes so many attorneys to develop drinking problems, and what can be done about it? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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