The Treatable Illness
Alcoholism or drug addiction is not a moral issue. It is a treatable illness. The stigma is not in having this illness; the stigma is in failing to seek treatment.
Medical authorities have established that addiction is a disease in which there is a preoccupation with alcohol or other drugs, coupled with a loss of control over their consumption.
Addiction may be arrested (not cured) by treatment. It is perfectly acceptable social behavior to seek treatment; it is anti-social to continue the denial.
Some symptoms of addiction are:
- The inability to guarantee one’s actions after starting to drink or use drugs.
- Deteriorating health accompanying a pattern of heavy drinking or drug use, impaired ability to work and concentrate.
- Disrupted personal relationships, denial that drinking or drug use is a problem when it is obvious to others.
- Defiance, impatience, intolerance or impulsiveness associated with heavy drinking or drug use.
Addiction is a progressive disease; without treatment it only gets worse, never better.
In the makeup of the person suffering from an active addiction, there exists a condition relieved only by a drink or a drug and which, once relieved, sets up the body’s demand for more.
The repetitious use of alcohol or other drugs as a medication for stress firmly establishes this progressive addiction. When the person with an addiction starts using alcohol or other drugs again after a period of “being on the wagon,” the condition is as bad or worse in no time at all.
Look for identifying signs that indicate substance abuse:
The following outline includes those symptoms that predictably suggest lawyer impairment. Note, though, that the symptoms may vary in nature according to the type of problem, and in severity, according to the stage of problem development.
- Returns late from lunch or fails to return.
- Leaves early on a routine basis or amasses a string of unpredictable absences.
- Fails to keep scheduled appointments.
- Takes frequent days off without good reason.
- Fails to appear at depositions or court hearings.
- Persistent complaints of not feeling well.
- Deterioration of personal appearance or hygiene.
- Overreacts to real/imagined criticism.
- Becomes grandiose, aggressive, belligerent.
- Large weight loss or gain.
- Insomnia or sleeps all of the time.
- Unable to retain (or fires) secretary, bookkeeper or associate attorneys.
- Drinks or uses drugs regularly at noon.
- Drinks or uses drugs during office hours.
- Appears under the influence of or being in an impaired condition during court appearance or deposition.
- “Needs a drink or to use drugs” when something good or bad has happened.
- Loses control at social gatherings when professional decorum is called for.
- Neglects to process mail promptly (and does not return phone calls).
- Performs poorly in the afternoons.
- Fellow workers complain.
- Misses deadlines for performance, such as allowing the statute of limitations to run.