The ABA and Ford Foundation commissioned one of the most comprehensive surveys ever done of drug and alcohol use among lawyers, released last year in the Journal of Addictive Medicine (cited in the NY Times piece). 12,825 lawyers across 19 states participated. Only 3,419 lawyers responded to the section of the survey dedicated to drug use, provoking the study's lead author to speculate on "what motivated 75 percent of attorneys to skip over the section on drug use as if it wasn't there."
The results, among those who did respond:
- 5.6 percent used crack, cocaine and stimulants in the last year;
- 10.2 percent used marijuana and hash;
- 16 percent used sedatives; and
- 85 percent used alcohol (compared to 65 percent of the general population).
We should recognize this problem for what it is: our nemesis, and our vulnerability, as a profession. We must be diligent in identifying and defeating it—not only in ourselves, but among our brothers and sisters in the bar.
'Yes, there are other stressful professions,' said Wil Miller, who practices family law …. He spent 10 years as a sex crimes prosecutor, the last six months of which he was addicted to methamphetamines. 'Being a surgeon is stressful, for instance — but not in the same way. It would be like having another surgeon across the table from you trying to undo your operation. In law, you are financially rewarded for being hostile.'