The study by the ABA and Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation re-confirmed that lawyers have high rates of mental illness and addiction.
But the good news about that is this: Your struggle with those obstacles began after you already did your education and developed a work ethic. Sure, you might not have felt centered and you might have relied on substances before you went to law school and understood the rules of the work world. But you were still able to acquire what you needed to function in a complex economy.
The rooms of recovery and mindfulness groups are filled with those who hadn't completed those developmental tasks. As a result, when they find the right treatment for mental illness and "get clean," they are not marketable.
Frequently, they have two choices. One is to stick with low-level jobs such as receptionist in a small business or a waiter in a mid-range restaurant. The other is to take on the challenge and cost burden of enrolling in college or a certificate program in their 30s and 40s. That's difficult because the odds are against completing the education or training. And success, some posit, is a factor in motivating folks to function despite mental illness and a predisposition to addiction.
I, too, was lucky. My first severe depressive episode didn't happen until I was 25. Already I had an BA and MA, as well as years of working. Alcohol abuse didn't take me over until my mid 30s. Eventually, I was able to operate my own business which allowed me to "work around" my bad days and have euphoric recall about mood-changers.