A growing number of attorneys and judges who have struggled with mental illness and substance abuse are speaking out about their battles. In doing so, they are challenging misconceptions while promoting services such as the Illinois Lawyers' Assistance Program (LAP). The 2016 American Bar Association Hazelden Betty Ford Study on lawyer impairment mapped out the extent of the problem. The survey of 12,825 attorneys showed that 20.6 percent screened positive for alcoholism, 28 percent for depression, 19 percent for anxiety, and 23 percent for stress—all at higher rates than other professions.
For its December cover story, the Illinois Bar Journal spoke with several attorneys and judges who have wrestled with drug abuse and mental illness, but also sought assistance and treatment. While recovery is not easy, all say they are glad for taking that first step: Asking for help.