Nebraska Lawyers Assistance Program: Facts About Impairment

Facts About Impairment

  • Cognitive decline is a form of impairment that can strike at any age, but is of increasing concern as Nebraska’s lawyer population ages. It may come on gradually, or suddenly as a result of events such as a stroke or a medication change.
  • Addiction and depression are treatable illnesses.
  • Addiction and depression occur in every socioeconomic group. It is generally accepted that their prevalence within certain professions, including the legal profession, is higher than it is among the general population.
  • Alcohol is the most widely used and destructive drug in America. Alcohol abuse among women has doubled in recent years. Previously the ratio of female to male alcoholics was 1 to 6; it is now 1 to 3.
  • Marijuana is not a “benign” drug. It severely affects memory, concentration, and ambition.
  • Complications associated with the use of cocaine include damage to the heart, brain, and other vital organs. Continued use causes dramatic personality changes and deterioration of ethical values, leading to criminal and disciplinary penalties.
  • One of the unique symptoms of chemical dependency is denial—the addicted person usually has little or no insight into his/her problem and simply denies that it exists.
  • It has been estimated that as many as 50% to 70% of the lawyers who are respondents in proceedings before bar disciplinary committees are chemically dependent.
  • Early intervention and treatment of the addicted person often leads to complete recovery.