The release of the report sparked a movement in the legal profession to both acknowledge and address well-being, and that movement is alive and well today, though the issues and concerns addressed in the report are still far from solved.
The rate of substance use in the profession is high, higher than in most industries. Why? Practicing law is the perfect storm of stress, competition, long hours, and often a culture of hard partying at events or as a “reward” for hard work, big settlements, or tough projects completed.
According to a survey by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration, 79.3% of people who binge drink are employed, and 68.9% of illicit drug users are employed. While many people are able to hide their drug and alcohol usage while in the workplace, that does not mean it doesn’t affect their performance and their overall quality of life. Like other mental health issues, substance use disorders can lead to an increased level of absenteeism, low morale, and job safety risks, not to mention the significant health impacts it presents to the individual.
It sounds pretty bleak, but that doesn’t mean we as an industry and as leaders cannot take steps to discuss, destigmatize, and help promote a healthier culture.