Law Student Substance Abuse

Researchers generally agree that law students experience significant declines in health after beginning law school. While 1L students start law school with depression rates similar to the general population, they come out of their first year of law school with higher rates of depression. The stress about the Socratic Method and law school’s competitive environment leads to lack of time for relaxation, stress about grades, all of which can contribute to students’ decreases in well-being. This may lead to self-destructive behavior including drug and alcohol abuse. For more, see Suzanne C.Segerstrom, Perceptions of Stress and Control in the First Semester of Law School, 32 Willamette L. Rev. 593 (1996) available in Brooklyn Law School Library’s subscription to HeinOnline.

Law students experiencing this kind of stress are advised to consult the New York City Bar Association Lawyer Assistance Program, a free, confidential service, available to attorneys, judges, law students and their family members, in New York City, who are struggling with alcohol or drug abuse, depression, anxiety, stress, as well as other addictions and mental health issues. If you answer “yes” to one or more of the following questions, adapted from a brochure from the New York State Lawyer Assistance Trust, contact the Confidential Helpline of at (212) 302-5787 or seek other help.

Have your professors, classmates, family, or friends suggested that your work is being affected by your addictive behavior or your moods?
Do you ever feel that you just can’t face certain situations or that you need a drink or drug to do so?
Do you drink or use drugs alone and avoid contact with others?
Have you ever had a loss of memory while using alcohol or drugs, although apparently functioning (e.g., a blackout)?
Do you ever use alcohol or drugs before a class, exam, or social function to calm your nerves or improve your performance?
Have you missed or rescheduled a class, exam, or other appointment because you felt unable to function?
Is your addictive behavior or your mental state making you careless of your scholastic responsibilities, family’s welfare, or other personal obligations?
Do you minimize the amount of substances you actually are using or the way you really feel?
Have you ever been hospitalized directly or indirectly as a result of your drinking or drug use?
Do you find you are sleeping or eating substantially less or more?
Have you found yourself thinking about harming yourself?