THE ADVOCATE 253
VOL. 78 PART 2 MARCH 2020
By Derek LaCroix, Q.C.
I have had the privilege to work with a great many lawyers who are experiencing
extreme distress. Many of them are suffering from addictions,
including alcoholism and drug dependency, and from mood disorders,
including depression and anxiety disorders. The causes, the behaviours and
the outcomes vary widely from person to person. These addictions and
mood disorders are complex illnesses and have been recognized as illnesses
just as much as cancer. The purpose of this article is to expose the judgments
that members of our society often hold about people with these
No one would think, and certainly would not say, that a person with cancer
has a moral failing or weakness of character. Nor ought anyone think or
say that about a person suffering from the ravages of addictions or mood disorders.
In fact, I think one of the reasons that in the general population
lawyers rank near the top for the prevalence of addictions and mood disorders
is that they have such strong characters. I frequently see individuals
who are barely able to function. They come to me after suffering in that
manner for a long time. They have persevered for such a long time because
of their intelligence, motivation, commitment, ambition and determination.
All these good characteristics sometimes work against persons who
are predisposed to addictions or mood disorders.
When a person becomes ill, it is appropriate for her or him to get help,
rest and do what is necessary to get well. Yet there seems to be a widespread
idea that addictions and mood disorders are a sign of weakness and that if a
The Lawyers Assistance Program is an independent organization of members of the legal community (lawyers, judges
families and support staff). We provide peer support and referral services to help people deal with personal problems,
including alcohol and drug dependence, stress, anxiety and depression. We are volunteers and staff committed to providing
confidential, compassionate and knowledgeable outreach, support and education. We seek to foster collegiality among our
peers and to promote health and well-being in our community. You can reach LAP by telephone at 604-685-2171, toll-free
at 1-888-685-2171 or via the LAP website: <www.lapbc.com>.