May 01, 2015

Substance Abuse and Mental Health: Going Solo Isn’t an Option

Patrick R. Krill

If there’s one common denominator among lawyers, especially in a solo or small firm setting, it’s the tendency to work long hours. Either out of necessity or passion, you’re probably more than familiar with early mornings, late nights, and shrunken weekends. Keeping such hours may be necessary and good for business, but chances are it’s not good for your relationship with addictive substances or your mental health. In fact, according to a new study that made headlines earlier this year (, people who work in the neighborhood of 50 hours per week are significantly more likely to engage in risky drinking than people who work 35 to 40 hours per week. And unfortunately for many lawyers, even 50 hours per week doesn’t cut it. Binge drinking, probably the single riskiest form of drinking, is on the rise in America and killing six people a day according to another recent study ( Notably, it’s a behavior that is most common among the same group that represents the largest demographic in the legal profession—middle-aged men. Furthermore, the link between working long hours and depression is also well established, with one study in particular linking long hours to more than double the risk of becoming depressed (

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