YOU Are NOT Alone
Read what other Connecticut lawyers say about their journey in recovery from substance use or mental health issues. Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers but a first step towards a productive and positive life.
Gratitude for a New Life
There came a time several years ago that I found myself in a desperate state of utter despair. My 40 years of substance use was affecting my wife, my children/grandchildren, my clients, and my business. I had not been called on the carpet professionally, but that was not far off. At court one day, I saw a lawyer that I grew up with who had found sobriety. During a pause in proceedings, I asked him how he turned it around. He put his arm around my shoulder, smiled and said, “I’ve been waiting for you.” It seems I was not the closet drunk I fancied myself to be. He gave me the number and email for Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers.
I made contact and was given the info for the Wednesday meeting in Rocky Hill. I went to the meeting, late of course, but I went in. I was met by a group of people that smiled and welcomed me. I can’t say I had an immediate transformation to becoming a sane and sober person, but I can say that something in that room kept me coming back. I did not want to be there, I did not want to get to know these people, but I was drawn to that room, time after time. Over time, I’ve come to love LCL and my LCL friends.
LCL was the first step in my recovery journey. It has resulted in several years of contented sobriety and incredible camaraderie with my fellow lawyers in LCL. My journey has led to involvement in the International Lawyers AA Meeting (ILAA) and meetings in my community. Because of LCL, I am a better husband, father, grandfather, friend, and lawyer.
Thank you LCL and the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous for giving a life that did not seem possible a few short years ago.
No Better Place to be
By the time I became an attorney I had been clean for over 10 years. I knew how to stay clean but as a new attorney, I needed a place where I could talk about my stressors and to learn from other attorneys in recovery (who had been practicing longer than I). I needed to hear how they coped with the stress of practicing law, their personal lives and staying clean/sober.
I was not afraid to reach out to Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers to find out what they had to offer or about joining in the weekly meetings with other lawyers. While I was already used to going to weekly NA/AA meetings, it was hard to talk about my life as an attorney and what I was up against. I could do that at LCL’s weekly meetings.
The support I received from my fellow attorneys who achieved and maintained sobriety was invaluable. They became more than just fellow attorneys with the same disease I suffered from. They became my mentors, my friends and most importantly my support. They were there when I needed help the most. I felt welcomed, accepted and part of an exclusive group of people who wanted not only me, but others like me, to succeed in recovery as well as professionally.
There is no shame in admitting one’s struggles with the disease of alcoholism and/or addiction. There is no better and safer place to admit that than in an environment where we all can relate because we all faced the same dilemma. LCL is here to help. All it takes is the courage to make that call.
Finding the Off Ramp
The basics of my alcohol abuse were surprisingly quite common. Alcohol, which had been a constant support, helping me through life’s stress, had somehow become an ever-increasing problem that was disrupting the most important things in my life, including my relationships with my family and friends and my professional legal career.
My participation in Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers has helped me to realize that alcoholism in general, and my alcoholism in particular, is a disease of isolation that, in time, invariably leads to profound feelings of aloneness and helplessness, and a sense of not being able to manage the many responsibilities of one’s life.
At the height of my drinking, or rather the depths, I just couldn’t find an off-ramp. I knew that I needed help but didn’t know where to turn. Then I was introduced to LCL, attended a meeting, and gained some insight into my alcohol problem and with it some real hope moving forward.
I frequently encounter attorneys who could benefit from the support and services that I have received from LCL. It’s my hope that more attorneys can find the courage to take that first step, as I did, and seek the help that they need.
Law Student Finds Hope
Following my last stint in rehab, I was finally ready to take my sobriety seriously. I was also eager to study for and take the bar exam. I had struggled with substance abuse during law school, but my addiction really took off following graduation. Now that I was finally clean I knew I would need a lot of support. I distinctively remember googling CT lawyer assistance program and was pleasantly surprised to come upon the CT Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers (LCL) website. I was happy to learn LCL was not only open to lawyers but also to law students and law school graduates, like myself.
It was during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic and as such, the LCL weekly meetings were Zoom meetings only. I remember logging on to the meeting weekly and feeling right at home. I could relate to what others were saying and they could relate to me, regardless of where we were in our lives and careers. Not only did I find support, I also found hope! There is no judgment. While LCL now meets in person on a weekly basis, it still also meets via Zoom and that is an amazing benefit for those of us unable to physically join each week. I am now coming up on three years clean and sober, and sobriety has given me a life beyond my wildest dreams. I was able to pass the bar exam, become employed as an attorney, and recently gave birth to my second child. I still rely on my weekly LCL meetings for support! Life can still get stressful, but I know I am not alone. I have met so many great individuals in LCL who I now consider friends who I can reach out to for support if need be. I am so grateful to have found LCL and the people in it!
Today Life Could Not Be Better
When I first appeared at an LCL meeting I was disbarred, unemployed, living in a homeless shelter, addicted to heroin, and secretly hoping that death would take me soon. This was just the beginning of my woes. I was also delinquent in my student loans, behind in my taxes, driver’s license suspended. The list went on.
I had learned about LCL by accident and after I told my shrink, she encouraged me to go to a meeting. So off I went. I thought I would just be thrown out as I had been disbarred and was not a lawyer anymore. That was over 13 years ago. Today not only did I get my original law license from New York back, but I also got licensed here in Connecticut. Today I have an active and growing criminal defense practice and my career and life could not be better.
LCL was integral not only in my recovery but in helping me to return to my professional life. For me it was important to see and hear from other attorneys who had been through what I was going through. To be accepted and to have comradery with others who will understand you. To have a pathway back to normalcy. I had been to other 12 step programs before and I had always felt singled out or judged because of my profession. The result was that I couldn’t talk, and I didn’t want to stay. For me LCL has become more than just a program, it became a touchstone for my recovery and return to my profession. A clearing house for information critical to me. A place where I know I will be accepted.
The Missing Piece
For years I struggled with my addiction, feeling completely isolated and carried around so much shame. I truly felt like I was the only lawyer that struggled with these issues. At the same time, I also felt out of place at times with general AA/NA/recovery groups because I felt like the issues that we deal with as lawyers are unique and unless you are in it, you really can’t understand.
When I came to my first LCL meeting, I instantly finally felt like I found my “people.” As lawyers we face a particularly challenging set of circumstances that make dealing with addiction issues and being successful in recovery extremely challenging and it was incredibly refreshing and healing to find this group. It was the missing piece in my recovery that I didn’t even know that I needed until I found it. I can’t say enough good things about it and if I have any regret, it’s that I didn’t go sooner.
United We Recover
My first encounter with Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers (LCL) took place in 1994 shortly after I got out of treatment for alcoholism. Back in those days, LCL consisted of (1) a “hotline” telephone number that appeared weekly in the Law Tribune, (2) a weekly recovery meeting in a law office in Rocky Hill that was held for lawyers who identified themselves as having a problem with drinking, drugs and/or life and (3) a confidential fellowship of attorneys who had similar issues and who freely gave their time, advice and resources to help each other.
From the outset, I felt at ease in this amiable group of colleagues with whom I shared both a common disease and a profession teeming with pressure and challenge. My recovery since has included many ups and downs. My darkest days occurred in 2006, when a combination of events, booze and some very bad decisions on my part led to an ugly end to my 25+ year career as a lawyer. But when my world started to implode, I thankfully had the wherewithal to make a call to a fellow LCL member. Those men and women helped me clear away the wreckage and eventually come out the other side.
Today I wouldn’t trade places with anyone. I no longer practice law; I now help people who want to stop their own destructive drinking or drug use. My only contact with lawyers these days takes place on those Wednesday nights when I wander to the LCL office for pizza, a meeting, and some fellowship. Not much has changed since 1994: I still thrive on being in the company of other lawyers in recovery who are driven by a desire to help others while maintaining strict confidentiality.
All throughout, I have stayed in contact with LCL- sometimes in the middle of the pack, sometimes on the fringes, but always part of the herd. And be I absent a week or a year, there was always fellowship (and pizza) on Wednesday at the LCL office in Rocky Hill.
Nothing to Lose
Addiction is often referred to as the “lonely disease”. Lawyers who fall into unhealthy behaviors to cope with the demands and stress of the profession will quickly identify with that sense of isolation. Lawyers are trained problem solvers not accustomed to reaching out for help.
That’s a dangerous combination. The first step in recovery is honestly acknowledging the problem. Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers is a dedicated group of your colleagues who share their stories of what happened, what it took to take that first step toward change and what it’s like now in a life of recovery.
These are people who have “been there, done that” and stand ready to support and assist struggling lawyers on the road to recovery. You are not alone. This is an anonymous, confidential program offered free of charge and free of judgment. Learn how your colleagues have overcome these issues and gone on to have satisfying, productive careers. I did and it helped me become a better lawyer and a better person.
What do you have to lose?
Humble, Grounded and Helping Others
I hit my bottom back in late 2005 while living in Maryland and practicing as a lawyer there. There were no lawyer meetings near where I was living, so I got clean and sober in AA proper. Being a lawyer is just what I happened to do for a living. Otherwise, I was just another regular person in the rooms. And that was a good thing. Kept me humble and grounded.
When I moved to Connecticut in 2017, and established a new practice there, I got connected with Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers (LCL) because their meetings were close by, and I knew I could be of service and help other lawyers who were struggling with drug and alcohol issues.
I went to my first LCL meeting in Rocky Hill when I arrived in Connecticut in October 2017, and have been connected ever since. The Wednesday night Rocky Hill meeting is a regular part of my recovery. My sponsor is a long-time member of LCL, and I have developed strong friendships with a number of other members. Beyond that, I have represented other attorneys in admission proceedings, grievance proceedings, and reinstatement proceedings. LCL is pretty much central to my existence these days, and I look forward to being involved in it for a long time to come.
Enjoying Life on Life’s Terms
I started drinking when I entered college and felt immediate relief from my anger that had been building for years. Eventually, I found myself in bars pretty much every night, knowing in the morning that I would drink that night. I was a lawyer who rationalized that it was acceptable to drink because of the stress of the job. Finally, the intense pressure of alcohol and lawyering wore me out.
Today I go to AA meetings almost every day and meetings at Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers weekly. The LCL meeting in particular helps me remember that I cannot drink and to enjoy life and other people’s company without alcohol.
I’ve been sober for many years and my life is far less stressful, healthier and more positive.
There IS a Solution
I had known for years that my drinking was a problem. Discord at home, barely adequate work product in the office, poor health and waking up nearly every morning with an awful sense of despair (to go along with my never-ending hangovers). It got to the point where I worried about my drinking problem constantly. I knew the day was coming when something bad was going to happen and I was going to lose everything . . . my family, my job . . . I had already lost my self-respect.
I was an intelligent person and made a living fixing other peoples’ problems, but I could not fathom how I was going to find a way out. I contacted Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers, and I can say beyond a shadow of doubt, LCL and the people involved saved my life. I have been sober for almost nine years, and some of my closest friends and confidantes are people I met through my involvement in LCL. If you are a lawyer, or know a lawyer that needs help, please contact LCL. There is a solution.
A Life and Career Saver
I first contacted Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers (LCL) back in 1988 as a young lawyer when I was discharged from a psych unit with a dual diagnosis of bipolar disorder and alcoholism. At the time the weekly recovery meeting was being held at my soon-to-become AA sponsor’s private home. LCL combined with AA and an excellent psychiatrist who prescribed the right meds literally saved my life and legal career.
I have stayed connected with LCL-CT as it has grown into the multi-dimensional support agency it is today for Connecticut legal professionals. I have remained sober since 1988 and am very grateful for all the help I received from LCL-CT. I strongly recommend if you need help with any of the issues listed on this website that you reach out to LCL. Doing so could save your life like it did mine.
Control is an Illusion
Nearly six years ago a professional colleague—a lawyer with no substance issues at all—gave me the contact information for Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers (LCL). I was a little reluctant at first. But then I went to a couple of meetings. I found them to be very relaxed and completely non-confrontational. I decided that it just might be good for me.
My pattern of alcoholic drinking was somewhat different from others because I never drank alcoholically until I was 70 years old. (I’m 80 now but feel like 55—I was blessed with excellent health and work out a lot to remain that way). The conclusion of three relationships over time left me looking for some sort of ‘connection’. Track work and swimming kept me free of stress, but I needed something more, something that provided a psychic reward and that I could more or less control completely. In retrospect, it was this thirst for control that got me in trouble.
My drinking increased slowly but steadily. I was satisfied that I had the ability to control my intake. On the surface, it worked, and I rarely got drunk or into trouble socially. But it definitely “snuck up” on me. Although I maintained a regular work schedule as a lawyer, I would find myself at about 11:00 a.m. filling my coffee cup with some wine that would bring to the office. And I didn’t drink much during the day but did so gradually and then a lot more when I got home. I preferred wine to hard liquor. I had plenty of wine.
In March of 2018 my son, then 28, and his wife visited overnight at my house. I had had too much to drink, and he let me know the following morning. That did it. In a way that I now see as the culmination of a mostly unconscious development of maturity, I realized that drinking was not the way I should be navigating through life. I became inured to the reality that I had lost “control”, and that was a horrible reality to exhibit to my children and grandchildren.
I joined LCL and started attending a second weekly AA meeting as well. I have had a truly gratifying and blessed journey ever since.
One Lawyers Story
I am one of the unfortunate attorneys who did not seek help for his alcoholism before it destroyed his career. Despite every intention to succeed in an honest and professional manner, I was unable to do so. My drinking resulted in the loss of my career, a criminal record, and harm to everyone I cared for and who cared for me.
Though I will always regret the harm to others caused by my alcoholism, the loss of my career was the best thing that ever happened to me. When I look back on my drinking history, my inability to stop still frightens me. The consequences were obvious, but I always thought I could control it. There were numerous strategies I employed to manage my drinking, but they all failed. Many times I made sincere promises to loved ones regarding my alcohol use. Despite my best intentions, I was never able to keep them. Even after my legal troubles began, I still drank for seven months. During this time I never sought help of any kind. The idea that I was unable to choose whether to drink, or that I could not manage it myself, was simply inconceivable to me. This was despite all my failed attempts to stop drinking and the disastrous impact it had on my life.
Further legal troubles finally caused me to attend a 12-step group meeting. I have no doubt it saved my life. I was introduced to people who had suffered from the same problem with alcohol. The difference was that they had found a solution which enabled them to stop drinking. I have not had to have a drink since that first meeting, which was over 30 years ago.
After returning from serving time in prison, I had no intention of being involved with the legal profession. My shame and embarrassment were profound. Fortunately, I met another attorney at a 12-step meeting I knew from the time I was practicing. She mentioned Lawyers Concerned Lawyers (LCL) and suggested I should attend. Quite frankly, I was embarrassed and afraid to do so. However, I had a mentor from my 12-step group who encouraged me (forced is a better description) to go to the meeting.
I will always be grateful that I put my fear aside and went to that first LCL meeting. At the time, it was an informal group organized by two attorneys. It met at one of their offices. I have been active in LCL for over 25 years. LCL has evolved from an informal group to the sanctioned program that now exists. I have met many wonderful people and made numerous friends. Hopefully I have made a contribution myself.
During the entire time I have been involved in LCL, I have never seen one attorney whose career or position was negatively impacted by their participation in the program. In fact, if they were able to stay sober, just the opposite occurred. Not only did their careers improve significantly, the rest of their lives benefited. Also, valuable friendships and relationships were created with other program participants. I have met many wonderful people in LCL, some of whom I am happy to call friends today.
During my time in recovery, I have met countless people seeking help for their alcohol and drug use. Many recognize early their need for help and can stay sober without suffering the loss and humiliation I had to endure. I envy them, and I hope they know how lucky they are. There have also been many people who have hung on to the belief that their addiction was not serious or that they could solve it on their own. Many of them have died alcoholic or drug overdose deaths, usually only after suffering immeasurable pain themselves and also inflicting it on loved ones. That includes a number of attorneys. I am grateful that circumstances caused enough pain in my life to accept my need for help. Though there have been difficulties during sobriety, by being sober I have enjoyed a richer life than I ever could have imagined.