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of depression, there are many lawyers who experience depression independent
of alcohol and/or drug abuse, and vice versa.
Other problems. LAPBC also helps members to address a variety of other
conditions that, though not related to substance abuse or mental health disorders,
can nonetheless materially impair a person’s ability. Career dissatisfaction,
the effects of aging, grief and relationship problems can all
adversely affect a person’s abilities, as can physical illness or injury.
Substance abuse. LAPBC was originally created to address the problems
surrounding addiction to alcohol and drugs. In the field of behavioural
health, it is generally accepted that addiction constitutes a chronic, progressive
disease that, left untreated and barring intervening factors, is fatal. Surveys
reveal that as high as eighteen per cent of all lawyers will develop
problems related to substance abuse. That figure does not include the number
of partners, associates, family members and colleagues who will be
forced to deal with the effects of addiction as a result of an impaired lawyer
they know or work with.
Most, if not all, impairment problems, particularly substance abuse–
related impairments, can be successfully treated. The first step, however, is
to break through the denial, stigma and shame often associated with substance
abuse so the affected person can get the help he or she needs. This
step is invariably made easier by better public education and awareness of
the medical basis of addiction.
The Process. What happens when someone calls LAPBC seeking help or
information for him or herself or for a colleague?
LAPBC has a confidential hotline that lawyers, family members, staff,
judges, students and friends can access directly to get help for a distressed
member of the legal community and facilitate his or her access to treatment.
A LAPBC staff member will usually conduct a brief interview with the
person making the call. Who are they? Are they seeking assistance for
themselves or for someone else? What have they experienced or observed
that leads them to believe they or the other person has a problem? The
LAPBC staff member will ask the materially relevant questions necessary
to determine if the person in question is in fact experiencing a problem that
LAPBC can help address.
If the answer is “yes,” then the LAPBC staff member will evaluate the
needs presented by the caller and determine what resources are available.
Usually an appointment will be made for personal consultation and assistance
with one of our trained professionals.
Volunteers are a valuable resource to LAPBC. Many of our volunteers
have personal experience with these same problems. This personal experi-