I came across an interesting article in the Autumn issue of University of Toronto Magazine. It indicates that John A. Cunningham, a behavioural scientist at U. of T., has come up with new criteria for defining how much alcohol consumption is too much.

You can measure your own drinking habits against these criteria by taking a short five minute survey at checkyourdrinking.net.

The survey asks about the amount of alcohol you consume, and compares it to averages for others of the same age and sex. On an annual basis it also reports how much you spend on alcohol and how many hours you are under the influence of alcohol. Lastly, based on the amount of alcohol you consume, it also gives you your chances of suffering various negative consequences which are specified in some detail.

Go to checkyourdrinking.net and take the survey if you drink anything more than a moderate amount of alcohol – you will find the survey results will be striking and sobering.

When we think of problem drinkers we tend to think of alcoholics. However, the article points out that it’s the people with moderate drinking problems who cause the most trouble, simply because there are more of them – about four problem drinkers for every one with a serious alcohol dependency.

The bad news is that most of these problem drinkers – an estimated 1.5 million in Ontario – never seek help. But there is good news here. Cunningham says relatively brief and easy interventions can help them. This is key as only one in three people who experience alcohol problems will ever seek treatment. They either don’t think they have a problem, or would prefer to deal with it themselves.

Cunningham’s research indicates that problem drinkers who took this survey cut their drinking by significant amounts. Clearly this simple survey is powerful tool.

Why is there a post about drinking too much on the AvoidAClaim blog? Because all too often LAWPRO finds that personal issues of some type were a contributing cause of a claim, and for lawyers with serious problems, the cause of multiple claims.

Lawyers are exposed to high levels of stress on a daily basis. The results can be use, misuse or even addiction to drugs or alcohol, and challenges to physical or mental wellness. The Wellness section of the practicePRO site has tools and resources to help lawyers manage stress, and to achieve a healthy and balanced lifestyle. There is also information on addictions, links to various online self-assessments. We will be adding Cunningham’s survey to our list of resources.

LAWPRO is also a supporter of OLAP, The Ontario Lawyers Assistance Program – www.olap.ca – (formerly OBAP, the Ontario Bar Assistance Plan ) which provides one-on-one ongoing volunteer peer support and professional counselling to lawyers, judges and law students who suffer from alcohol, drug or other addictions, eating disorders, stress, burnout or mental illness. OLAP can assist with referrals for support, assessments and counselling. If you, your partner or your spouse needs help, please call them.

Even if you don’t think you have a drinking problem, go to checkyourdrinking.net and take the survey to see how you compare with the average for a person of your sex and age. You might be surprised at the results.

You can find the U Of T Magazine article here.

Cross posted on SLAW.CA and LawyerSuccessTips.com.

Categories: Wellness and Balance