Editor's Column

Editor's Column

By:  Laura Pratt

I’m a big fan of the month of April.  Not only do I receive a wealth of CLE reminders, emails, social media messages, and free discount codes, all broadcasting the month of my birth, but the month also boasts of a plethora of national days.  I mean, who doesn’t like National Tax Day on April 15?  If itemized deductions aren’t your thing, how about celebrating National Sibling Day which falls on April 10?  One of my personal favorites, National High Five Day, comes around on April 18, and everyone should mark their calendars for the 23rd, National Talk-Like-Shakespeare Day.

All joking aside, as a whole, the month of April is marked for a much greater issue.  For over twenty-five years, the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc. has sponsored April as National Alcohol Awareness Month.  The month is used to raise awareness and understanding about alcohol abuse, reduce stigma, and encourage communities to focus on alcohol-related issues.  This year, there is additional focus on alcohol use by young people.  Every year, over 6,500 people under the age of 21 die from alcohol-related accidents.  About 25% of children in the United States are exposed to alcohol-use disorders in their family, and alcohol remains the number one drug of choice for our young people.  Alcohol is more likely to kill young people than all other illegal drugs combined.  The efforts of the NCADD throughout the month of April are designed to draw attention to the pervasive impact of alcohol and alcohol-related problems and take action towards finding solutions for alcoholism in our communities.

The far-reaching effects of alcohol abuse are felt within the legal profession itself.  Statistics show that the legal profession has a much higher incidence of both alcoholism and depression, usually attributed to our high-stress jobs.  Although lawyers are often great at solving problems, they have a hard time seeking help themselves.  Additionally, a lawyer’s work environment often includes social drinking, which can exacerbate abuse issues. 

Recognizing this is a huge issue in our society and our profession, both TYLA and the State Bar of Texas have focused on combating alcohol abuse though education and awareness projects and recovery resources.  TYLA’s newest project, BSAFE – Battling Substance Abuse for Everyone, is a multi-media public service and education project intended to provide a free resource to educate youth about the dangers and real life consequences of substance abuse.  Additionally, TYLA’s project The Unconscious Truth − The Physical and Legal Effects of Underage Binge Drinking is a multi-media project created to educate students and parents on the signs of alcohol poisoning and the legal and physical consequences associated with binge drinking.  Both of these projects are available online.  The State Bar of Texas, through the Texas Lawyers’ Assistance Program (TLAP), has developed resources to specifically address the needs of lawyers dealing with substance abuse.  TLAP services include crisis counseling, referrals, peer assistance, customized CLE and education, mandated monitoring, and volunteer opportunities.  Additionally, TLAP’s professional staff is available by phone and email to answer your questions about substance abuse, mental health and wellness issues. By statute, all communications are confidential.  Without proper intervention and treatment, substance abuse, as a chronic health condition, can worsen over time. Please look into these resources if you or someone you know is facing an alcohol abuse situation. 

-LAURA PRATT is an Assistant City Attorney for the City of Lubbock. The opinions expressed in this article are not the official opinions of the City of Lubbock.