There is a common stereotype in movies and tv shows depicting the alcoholic lawyer who reaches for the bottle due to the stress of his job. Unfortunately, there is some truth to this stereotype as studies show lawyers are significantly more prone to alcoholism than the general population. As many as 36.6 of lawyers in one study had behaviors showing exhibiting issues of problem drinking.
Surprisingly, this problem is only progressing further with the younger millennial generation of lawyers practicing now. The current generation in their 20s and early 30s tend to have more serious drinking habits due to financial stress, the high cost of living, and student loan debt. Young lawyers such as junior associates tend to drink the most because of these generational problems coupled with a highly stressful job.
Lawyers have demanding careers with long hours and frequently low professional satisfaction. They also have higher rates of mental health problems including depression and anxiety and often turn to alcohol to self-medicate. Alcohol becomes their solution to cope with the many issues that they face because of money, stress and very little free time.
The pattern of drinking frequently begins in law school when students party as a way to alleviate the stress of studying. When they take on full time jobs as lawyers, alcohol can take on a different role of calming their anxiety. Many will end a difficult day by going to happy hour with coworkers, as drinking often become part of the work culture in the legal profession.
Drinking may be thought to temporarily relieve stress for people with stressful jobs but ultimately it causes more psychological and behavioral issues that could endanger their career. Lawyers that abuse alcohol are likely to see it begin to affect their ability to work over time. Young lawyers with long term alcohol abuse problems need to address their issues with treatment and recovery.