Study on Lawyer Impairment

The Prevalence of Substance Use and Other Mental Health Concerns Among American Attorneys

In collaboration with the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation, the ABA Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs conducted national research on lawyer impairment. This is a landmark study as never before has national data been gathered addressing both substance use and behavioral health concerns simultaneously. The survey examines alcohol use, substance abuse, mental health issues and help-seeking behaviors of lawyers. The results are compelling. The implications for the legal community are multifaceted and far reaching.


Access the full report in the Journal of Addiction Medicine here. Click the image below for an infographic of just some of the findings. 

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The Prevalence of Substance Use and Other Mental Health Concerns Among American Attorneys - Infographic

Watch Charting a Sustainable Path Forward: What the ABA/Hazelden Betty Ford Study on Substance Use and Mental Health Means for the Future of the Profession (ABA webinar recorded September, 2016)


Listen to coverage of the study on Wisconsin Public Radio, featuring co-author Linda Albert. 

Watch an ABA social media video, featuring co-author Patrick Krill.

Watch "Lawyers at Risk: Be Intentional About Your Mental Health," a video on the study, featuring co-author Linda Albert. 


News and Bar Journal Coverage:


At 2016 Annual Meeting, NCBP, NABE both address alcohol, substance use, mental health problems (ABA Bar Leader)

What are partners' duties when a colleague is impaired? Draft opinion calls for these steps (ABA Journal)

Younger lawyers are most at risk for substance abuse and mental health problems, a new study reports (ABA Journal)

The interwoven social fabric of substance abuse and attorneys (Addiction Now)

Alcohol and Mental Health Concerns among American Attorneys (The Alabama Lawyer)

The Latest Data on Lawyers, Drinking, and Mental Health (The Arkansas Lawyer, pg. 48)

Wellness and the Legal Profession: Implications of the 2016 Landmark Study on the Prevalence of Substance Use and Mental Health Concerns Among US Attorneys (The Bar Examiner, National Conference of Bar Examiners)

Lawyers Grapple with Substance Abuse More than Other Professionals: Study (Bloomberg BNA)

Lawyers, Drinking, Depression: A Problem That Isn't Going Away (Bench & Bar of Minnesota)

Mental health crises plagues attonreys along with alcohol abuse, study says (California Bar Journal)


Disciplining Addiction: How the ARDC and assistance programs handle lawyers with drug and alcohol problems (Chicago Lawyer)

High rates of alcohol abuse, depression among U.S. attorneys, study says (Chicago Tribune)

The Legal Profession’s Drinking Problem (CNN)

Preaching or Reality Check: You be the Judge (Delaware State Bar Association Bar Journal)

Study Indicates Lawyers Struggling with Substance Use and Other Mental Health Issues (Forbes)

The Trouble with Lawyers: Addiction and Behavior Health Issues Challenge the Profession (The Gavel, State Bar Association of North Dakota)

A Perspective From Bar Counsel’s Office: Addressing Substance Abuse and Mental Health Issues (Idaho State Bar, The Advocate, Pg. 31)

Young attorneys, law students prone to mental health issues (The Indiana Lawyer)

Study shows ‘problematic’ alcohol use by attorneys (The Indiana Lawyer)

Study shows lawyers have higher rates of problem drinking and mental health issues (The Iowa Lawyer, May 2016)

Alcohol an issue for young lawyers (Jax Daily Record)


Attorneys and alcohol: Problems and solutions (JAX Daily Record)

Alcoholics and the Profession of Law (Justicia’s Verdict)

ABA study reveals widespread problem drinking, mental health issues among American lawyers (Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly)

ABA CoLAP and Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation: Research Findings on Mental Health of Attorneys (Michigan Bar Journal)

Drinking is a Problem for 1 in 3 Lawyers, Study Finds: Junior associates have highest rate of alcohol abuse (The National Law Journal)

How Hard Drinking Lawyers Can Get Off the Bottle (Newsweek)

High Rate of Problem Drinking Reported Among Lawyers (The New York Times)

New National Study on Attorney Substance Use and Mental Health Concerns (Rhode Island Bar Journal)

Study discusses lawyers’ alcohol, behavior problems: Authors spoke about the study at American Bar Association meeting in SD (The San Diego Union-Tribune)

Alcohol a ‘very alarming’ problem for nation’s lawyers, Hazelden and ABA find (StarTribune)

Competition can Be Beneficial, But Also Corrosive (Tennessee Bar Journal)

It Is Never Too Late: Taking the time for lawyer wellness (Texas Bar Journal)

The (Drunk) Elephant in the Room (Vermont Bar Journal)

When Lawyers Need Help (Washington Lawyer)

One-fifth of this occupation has a serious drinking problem (Washington Post)

Landmark Study: U.S. Lawyers Face Higher Rates of Problem Drinking and Mental Health Issues (Wisconsin Lawyer, State Bar of Wisconsin)