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Working in the legal profession can be stressful and well paid, a combination that leaves some lawyers with both the reason and the means to drink. While having a drink in itself is not an issue, if you answer ‘yes’ to two or more of the following statements, you could have an issue with alcohol:
DRINKING TOO MUCH?Most of us know about the dangers of alcohol. It can seriously damage your health, personal life and the lives of those around you. It is a major cause of coronary heart disease, many different cancers, liver disease (especially cirrhosis), pancreatitis, memory loss, and depression. Alcohol is also a factor in family and relationship breakdown, and can cause career problems. The recommended safe limit per week is 14 units for men and women, and should be consumed over the course of a week. For guidance A single shot of spirits is 1 unit, a small glass of wine 1.5 units and a pint of lower strength beer 2 units.
HELP AVAILABLEIt is important to be frank with medics about your alcohol consumption to ensure a safe detox. If you have an alcohol dependency it is unwise to detox unsupervised.
Controlled drinking programmesMany local health authorities run controlled drinking programmes which generally involve working with NHS staff, including a keyworker, who will discuss your drinking with you, suggest strategies, and set reasonable goals. Counselling may be recommended and / or drugs prescribed to help reduce cravings or counter the effects of alcohol. Many people prefer a controlled drinking programme to abstinence.
CounsellingThis involves sessions with a trained counsellor, who may use various techniques such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). You will be encouraged to examine the reasons why you drink, the feelings you may be trying to suppress, and to discuss the effect drinking is having on your life. Your GP may be able to refer you for counselling on the NHS or, if you have health insurance or wish to pay privately, you can choose your own counsellor. Some employers offer Employment Assistance Programmes which can help
Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)AA is the world’s largest alcohol recovery programme. It is independent of any outside organisation, is free, and confidentiality is guaranteed. AA meetings take place across the country, and the advice is to attend daily for the first three months. Some people worry that they will run into people they know at meetings, but everyone is there for the same reason, and they will not tell anyone that you were there. However, you can attend meetings in another area if you prefer.
In-patient treatmentIn-patient treatment, supplemented by regular follow-ups and AA meetings, is effective, however there are considerable costs involved. Referral can be through your GP, or you can phone the treatment centre yourself. The first step is medically supervised detoxification, which can take two weeks, followed by meetings and out-patient appointments. Prices can range from £500 per week to over £8,000 per week. If your career makes it difficult for you to take an extended period away from work, you can speak to LawCare about other forms of treatment.
STAYING SOBERAchieving sobriety is the first step on a lifelong path. Most alcohol experts have found that once the addiction ‘switch’ is thrown ‘on’ it rarely returns ‘off’, even after years of abstinence. If you start to drink again, research suggests you will not start afresh but from when you stopped drinking. This is why alcoholics in treatment call themselves ‘recovering alcoholics’. They can never safely return to even moderate social drinking.
“I had spoken to Victor [a LawCare supporter] on the phone. He came to visit me at the treatment centre a couple of times a week. It was tough, but he kept encouraging me to stick it out. He’d been an alcoholic himself. He’d lost his family and his job too, but now after giving up alcohol he was married again and a partner in a well-respected firm. Whenever I feel weak, I phone Victor.”LawCare helpline caller
TOPS TIPS FROM ALCOHOLICS IN RECOVERY
If you are worried about your own drinking or about someone else who may have an alcohol problem, contact us in confidence, we can help. Call our helpline, email us, access our webchat service via our home page or apply for peer support.
Like most of my friends I enjoyed a drink through my late teens and early twenties, usually at the weekend. I qualified as a psychiatric... Read More
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