Celebratory drinks after a big win. Too many cocktails at a staff function.
Some offices even host regular social functions within the business premises.
More often than not, these are all just social gatherings that help employees bond, break barriers between different levels of management and encourage camaraderie.
But they can also lead to overindulgence. A few beers or a few cocktails, maybe a few hits off a joint, or maybe a few lines of coke.
When everyone is doing it, it seems like the norm and awkward not to participate. When people are in professional positions with great pay, it’s easy to take socializing to the next step.
Lawyers face the Pressure of the Profession
Anyone who has faced the pressure of graduating can attest to the level of stress. Law students are under far more stress. The tests are very rigorous and the euphoria of being accepted into a law program evaporates quickly. They face a great deal of work and stress. Studies show that, within a few months of joining law school, students show signs of anxiety and depression.
By the end of their first year, close to half show signs of depression. This often leads to anxiety medication and/or sleeping pills. It is also not uncommon for students to sell these prescription pills for extra cash, leading to easy availability of these medications on law school campuses.
When they finally finish school, they not only face an overwhelming load of work, but work often conflicts of their own moral and value systems. These need to be ignored and pushed aside in order to get the job done.
The competition in the profession is brutal and the drive to excel can quickly lead to mental fatigue. Consequently, seeking solace in alcohol and drugs or the abuse of prescription drugs is not uncommon. Over time, tolerance builds, and the patient needs to take more to feel the same effect.
Having a few beers at the end of the week can quickly turn into substance abuse, with prescription and street drugs. This type of self-medicating doesn’t end with graduation.
Finding a good job is daunting when you have to compete with all the other graduates. However, getting your foot in the door is only the beginning. Young lawyers find themselves in an unenviable position of being tasked with lowly and menial jobs. This can make them feel worthless and adds to the stress.
Long hours and ridiculous schedules take a toll. Add on the pressure of them having to meet various quotas: finding new clients, the win/loss ratio, etc. After working so hard, they worry constantly of being overlooked for advancement. Such stress damages their personal relationships. It’s no wonder they rank so high in depression and addiction.
There is also safety in following the herd. When many of your co-workers and peers all feel the same way, it feels good to stick together to take away the stress through the social norms of drinking and, sometimes, drugs.
Unfortunately, this can have the opposite effect after a while. Too much overindulgence leads to loss of control and sub-optimal work performance. This, in turn, may lead to financial pressures, which may intensify the dependence on drugs or alcohol.
The first step is always accepting that you have a problem. The person needs to recognize the damage being done to their health from alcohol, their career and their relationships.
The legal world is small, and it is never a good idea to have issues following you, like substance abuse or addiction. Losing a job due to addiction could do irreparable harm to one’s career.
The first step should be speaking directly to your employer, as there are programs in place to help their staff get the help they need. Talking to your immediate supervisor about the stress on the job and how it has affected you will be the first step to recovery.
Talking to your family and friends is also a good idea, especially if they have expressed their concern already. It’s more than just your job at stake, it’s your health and your future, as well.
If you have any questions or concerns, please contact us today.
Dr. Cidambi is a leader in addiction treatment and innovator of safe and effective ambulatory (outpatient) detoxification level of care for alcohol, benzodiazepines, opiates, and suboxone. Prior to founding the Center for Network Therapy, she completed her residency in Psychiatry at Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn and an Addiction Medicine Fellowship at NYU/Bellevue Hospital in New York. Due to the successful detoxification program, Dr. Cidambi was featured frequently by media outlets, including NPR, CBS, NY Times, and Wall Street Journal.