According to a 2007 Report of the US Department of Health And Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) approximately 6.2% of US adults 26 years and older suffer from alcohol abuse or dependence and 1.7% suffer from illicit drug abuse or dependence. A 2008 Report indicates that 5.9% of US adults are currently using illicit drugs.

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) website states that 26.2% of US adults have experienced a mental disorder during the past year and 5.8% of US adults are classified as having a seriously debilitating mental illness.

The National Gambling Impact of the Commission’s 1999 report cites two principal studies conducted by the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences and the National Opinion Research Center. Their surveys indicate that a range between 1.9% and 2.9% of US adults may have experienced problem or pathological gambling disorders during the past year.


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The nature of these illnesses, the stigma attached to them and the tendency of lawyers to retain control and responsibility to solve any problem (especially their own) works against the impaired attorney or judge.

  • Alcoholic or drug addicted judges and lawyers minimize or altogether deny their illness – sometimes to the gates of death.
  • Depressed judges and lawyers (some of whom may also suffer from addiction, compulsive gambling, eating disorders, etc.) operate with a cognitive distortion that continuously tells them they are unworthy of being helped, they are beyond help, no one can possibly understand how they feel, and no one is to be trusted.

These states of denial and distorted thinking often prevent the individual from seeking help. As the illness worsens over time, the personal and professional functioning of the impaired attorney dramatically declines. The addict and the depressive tend to isolate and may eventually disappear entirely from sight. Our opportunity to help has been lost.

It is never too early to call JCJ and discuss your concerns, but it may be too late.

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