An interesting thing often happens when I'm talking with fellow attorneys and they learn I'm in recovery from addiction. The conversation typically starts with interest in my decision to ditch practicing law to become a licensed alcohol and drug counselor. But not long after come the not-so-disguised questions about signs that a lawyer might have a problem. Being lawyers, they avoid the dead giveaway: "So, I have a friend who I think may have a problem." They might ask questions about my former use and why I thought I needed to do something about it. At times, they appear relieved at my answers. At others, concerned and needing more answers. It's often difficult for lawyers to recognize when they've reached the tipping point. Substance use disorders such as alcoholism are, after all, chronic and progressive. One rides the escalator of addiction up, from experimentation when we're young, to social drinking, moderate drinking, and so on up to dependence. But the fact is: the experience is different for everyone. Warning Signs of Alcohol Problems Wondering where you are on the tipping point trajectory? Here's a quick list of warning signs to consider. Being unable to limit the amount of alcohol you drink Feeling a strong need or compulsion to drink Developing tolerance to alcohol so that you need increasing amounts to feel its effects Having legal problems or problems with relationships, employment, or finances due to drinking Drinking alone or in secret Experiencing physical withdrawal symptoms—such as nausea, sweating, and shaking—when you don't drink Not remembering conversations or commitments, sometimes referred to as "blacking out" Making a ritual of having drinks at certain times and becoming annoyed when this ritual is disturbed or questioned Losing interest in activities and hobbies that used to bring you pleasure Irritability when your usual drinking time nears, especially if alcohol isn't available Keeping alcohol in unlikely places at home, at work, or in your car Gulping drinks, ordering doubles, becoming intoxicated intentionally to feel good, or drinking to feel "normal" Does any of this sound familiar? If so, you owe it to yourself, your clients, and the interests you serve to figure out what's going on. Expert help is available and confidential. Win Back Your Health and Career Addiction and co-occurring mental health disorders are alarmingly prevalent in the legal profession, with devastating consequences for attorneys who struggle with these issues as well as the clients and interests served. Take the first important step to regaining your life, health and career.