About Me

37 comments

Hi, I’m Dick, and I’m an attorney in recovery from alcohol use disorder.

Actually, that’s not my real name, but my story is.

I started this Blog to document my personal journey through recovery and sobriety. I am an attorney practicing primarily in civil litigation. I’ve been practicing for about 16 years, and I run my own successful firm.

I came from a very stable home with loving parents. I was a 7 letter varsity athlete and honor’s student. I hardly drank until I got to college. I did drink at a decent clip in college as most of my peers did, but I got good grades. I settled down in law school, graduating top 5% of my class and on Law Review. I progressed well into my 30’s before I started having problems with alcohol.

My unhealthy drinking started with my inability to deal with life’s setbacks. I suffered an unexpected job layoff after the dot com bust, then my wife had a devastating miscarriage of what would have been our first child. We did end up having two successful pregnancies, but I bounced around from a few firms and was basically miserable being a lawyer. The stresses of providing for a young family, financial struggles, and the inevitable strain on the marriage lead to a panic attack where I wound up in the ER. That’s when I started self-medicating with alcohol.

I attended Hazelden’s 30 day program in Minnesota and was part of their new Legal Professionals recovery program. It was a great program which I’ve written about in much detail in this post. My recovery program consists of attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings (about 5/week) with Step Work, private therapy, a low dose of anti-depressant SSRI medication, exercise (particularly boxing), a little meditation and prayer as needed, and writing this blog. I’ve also attended SMART Recovery meetings which I’ve written about in these posts. I have also dealt with relapses so I know how hard it is to “come back.”

Lawyers have a higher rate of addiction than the general public. Studies say that up to 20% or more of all attorneys are afflicted with some type of alcohol or substance abuse in their careers. In the same vein, lawyers are notoriously difficult to treat. I am no different. An attorney’s strengths professionally are major liabilities in recovery. A lot of us lawyers have super-egos, ultra-competitiveness, and over-analytical ways of dealing with life which can become major impediments to recovery. We often think we can out-think and out-smart this disease. The problem is that addition is your evil twin, always smarter than you and one step ahead.

I welcome your thoughts, comments, vents, bitching and moaning of any type. Let it out. I know what you are going through as I’m going through the same thing myself. As they say in meetings where I live, sober is better!

One day at a time…

~Dick

 

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  • Sharron

    Proud of you for taking the first step. My 33-year-old son is a recovery addict/alcoholic and I know very well the feeling of defeat the families experience. February 18 is his two-year clean date, and we are rejoicing daily with his recovery.

    I am a paralegal by education and work experience and have firsthand experience with attorneys with substance abuse problems.

    I agree 100% with your assessment about the families of addicts. We are all too often forgotten in the treatment plans. Our son has been in six treatment centers and only twice we were counseled with by the case managers for a total of an hour (we got 30 minutes at each facility).

    My husband resigned from his 20-year corporate executive position to become a Certified Addiction Professional and is now in private practice. He encourages family members to enter counseling even if their loved one refuses treatment. The families need to learn how to live with their addict in such a way that recovery will become attractive and desirable.

    I am writing a devotional book for the families and loved ones of addicts. Almost all of the literature is for the addict but not much for the family except in the form of memoirs. I will be pitching my book proposal in March at a Christian Writers’ Conference and trust it will be well received. It is 90 days of devotions that will coincide with the 90 meetings in 90 days addicts are encouraged to attend. While the addict/alcoholic is attending meetings, the family members will be reading scripture and praying daily for their addicted loved one.

    May God bless you and your family as you live sober–one day at a time.

  • Dick

    Thanks Sharron. I hope this blog helps to connect and bridge understanding between the AA and Al-Anon communities.

  • http://twitter.com/SoberLawyer Sober Lawyer

    Thanks Sharron!

  • http://twitter.com/addictionguy Todd B

    Hi Dick,

    I want to invite you to explore anti-craving medications if you have yet to do that already.  My sense is that addiction is largely biochemical and that relapse is largely the result of cravings.  

    Thanks for your blog.  
    http://www.askanaddictioncounselor.com
    @addictionguy:twitter 

    • http://twitter.com/SoberLawyer Sober Lawyer

       Todd, I like your site a lot, and I’ll put it in my resource section. I don’t need more medications. I’m trying to get off what I’m already on! For me, relapse has been simply not accepting that I’m an alcoholic not succumbing to biochemical urges. I was never an everyday heavy drinker, so I never had to deal with a lot of the physical addiction stuff that others have to deal with.

  • http://level9paranoia.com/ peter

    Hi Dick, 

    I just stumbled upon your blog this evening, and I really enjoy it. Having just found it, I’m not sure how much time you’ve got, but I congratulate you on whatever it may be. I’m looking forward to reading more. My own sobriety has allowed me to pursue unbelievable things over the last 3 1/2 years, things I only spoke about doing while drinking. Anyway, just wanted to say hello.

    Take care, 

    Peter

  • http://twitter.com/SoberLawyer Sober Lawyer

     Peter, thanks for the nice words. I have a little over 4 months, one day at a time.

    • http://level9paranoia.com/ peter

      That’s great! I’m sure I won’t be the first to tell you this, but for me things really started to get some degree of easier around six months. I wish you a long slow recovery, and look forward to keeping up with it. 

  • Another Dick

    I am so happy to have found this site.  I came across it as I was searching for “1st business trip sober”.  Dick, your story is so similar to mine.  Thank you creating this site!

    • http://twitter.com/SoberLawyer Sober Lawyer

       Another, thanks for stopping by! Writing this blog is extremely therapeutic for me, as you can imagine and it’s cool to “hang out” with other sober folks like you. One day at a time…

  • Coco1224

    Hi Dick…..what an AMAZING DISCIPLE OF CHRIST AND MENTOR YOU ARE!!!! My name is Cornelia and by the GRACE OF A VERY LOVING GOD…many men and women who have “walked this walk” before me…and the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous….I have been GRACED with 26 yrs…5 months and 24 days of living a life that is HAPPY, JOYOUS AND FREE FROM ALCOHOL! I put my knees to the earth daily thanking God for this incredible gift!

    I found this site by chance as I am assisting a dear friend in the horrific turmoil in her life and family! Her husband is a very successful and brilliant attorney…incredible provider and father to 4 incredible kids. I am visiting in the town she and her family live in….and due to the fact this wonderful Irish Catholic family has supported my life….she reached out in desperation to me as I have shared over half of her life!

    I have never been ANONYMOUS WITH MY JOURNEY! Never have I wavered with Fellow members…but I have always openly shared with others my “one day at a time”. Through this I have been given the grace to assist others. I believe we are asked by Jesus…to serve and support others….and this is how I have been able to SPREAD THE NEWS!!

    May GOD’S ABUNDANCE AND GRACES BE WITH YOU AND YOURS AS YOU TRAVEL THIS INCREDIBLE JOURNEY OF BEING HAPPY JOYOUS AND FREE….

    CORNELIA

    • Dick

      Thanks for the comment Cornelia. I hope you are able to help your friend. I’m neither a disciple of Christ or mentor–just a regular dude trying to get sobriety.

      ~Dick

  • A Female Dick

    Dick,

    Wow. Thank you. Our stories are eerily similar. I’ve been practicing 23 years and am just six days sober. I’m also incredibly grateful to have stumbled on your blog.

  • Jenna

    Hi Dick. Wonderful blog. I’m flattered that you have linked to mine (drinking to distraction). Thought of you when I read this on NYT today: http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/10/01/feeling-the-pressure-to-drink-for-work/?src=recg
    Best wishes,
    Jenna

    • Dick

      I saw that article as well. Story of my life…

  • Truthdoesnotlie
    • Dick

      Mr. Orange, I’m honored that you would spend the time to offer a rebuttal to my critique of the HuffPost piece by Laura Tompkins. I guess I’ve made the big time when I’m quoted in the infamous Orange Papers! I think we can all agree that there are a number of different, and equally effective, treatment addiction programs out there, including your brand of do-it-yourself. There’s really no “right” or “wrong” so long as the alcoholic/addict gets appropriate help and can get healthy. I hope we are all on the same team in trying to help folks with addiction, rather than wasting time debating whether AA truly works. It does work for many people. And it does not work for some people.

      ~Dick

  • Brandon

    Dick, I’m interested in using one of the pictures on your site. Can you email me about how I could use it?

  • Ashley

    I am in recovery and have 3 years sober. In my past I made some pretty stupid choices which I am paying for today. I lost custody of my son and am trying to get unsupervised visits with him again. The prob is that this was a privet case and I will have to go before the judge again. I do not have the funds to do so. A attorney I know tried to help me out by typing up a simple agreement that would allow me and my sons father unsupervised as long as we could pass a UA and all parties involved signed. His father is not willing to sign and I have my suspicion as to why, I don’t think he can pass a drug test. So here I sit, making extreme strides at turning my life around and being stuck because his father refuses to sign. So because he isn’t making changes my son is suffering, my son doesn’t understand why I can pick him up to take him to school or practice etc. I have done every thing in my power to not just stop using but to turn my life around. I am a full time recovery coach and am attending school to get my LCDC. There is nothing in the order implementing a step down process from unsupervised visits, no goal, no documentation of progress, NOTHING to work towards. Please do you know of any way or anyone who can help me? I don’t have alot of money but I need help.

  • johngotwalt

    I’m sober 4 years + and want a sober lawyer to draft a will for me and be executor of my estate. I’m having difficulties locating one through my meetings in NYC. Any leads ? johngotwalt@yahoo.com
    Thanks.

  • Rachelle Fitzgerald

    It brings joy yo my heart to see this blog. Very proud of you for having the courage to share your journey! Thank you!

  • http://oneonezerozeropaces.wordpress.com/ Lade Rice

    This is an excellent blog. I particularly enjoy the post about the specific difficulties that highly analytical people face in recovery. It’s not possible to comment on that post, however, so I’ll comment here instead. Anyhow, this is the sober blog I enjoy most. I relate to it and find it very insightful.

  • David Downie

    Hello Dick,

    I thought the readers of your blog might be interested in my new book on giving
    up drinking for a while. It is called Between Drinks: Escape The
    Routine, Take Control and Join The Clear Thinkers, and the amazon link
    is http://www.amazon.com//dp/B00GFYH2H4.

    The book will be FREE for download on Amazon on 14 May
    2014 only. No catches.

    You can read more about me and the book at http://www.betweendrinksblog.com.
    This includes testimonials from people who found it useful.

    Thanks for considering and I hope it helps a reader of your blog. If you would
    like to review the book please email me and I will send you a free copy

    Any questions please let me know – I’d enjoy hearing from you.

    Thanks again.

    Regards

    David Downie

  • Carolyn Hannan Bell

    Dear Dick,
    I am a Psychotherapist in Cinnaminson, NJ and have written two books to help children cope with and understand alcoholism. These books were written at the request of a client who wanted to explain his alcoholism to his young daughter and was having trouble finding the “right” book to do the job.
    “Daddy’s Disease” and “Mommy’s Disease” have been on the cover of the “Courier Post”, featured on NPR’s “Voices in the Family” with Dr. Dan Gottleib, and on Take 12 Radio.
    I would very much appreciate your considering reviewing my books for your blog and would be happy to send you copies of the books if you are interested. (electronically or hard copy)
    Thank you so much for your time and for the good work you do.
    Best,
    Carolyn Hannan Bell, M.S., L.P.C.
    http://www.alcoholismhurtskids.com

  • Molly

    I was wondering – it’s been a while since you’ve posted. Are you still living a sober life? Tested yourself? Still attend meetings?

    • Dick

      Yes, still here, still sober. Just stopped writing.

    • Dick

      Still here, still sober. Will be posting soon.

  • Tom

    My brother is going through this program. He really needs help and needs to make sure he’s happy with himself.

  • Recovering 1L

    I have four years sober and I’m looking for some help getting through law school in recovery – it’s really hard to find people who know what i’m going through.. any advice?

    • Dick

      Hi Recovering, check out the local Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers meetings in your area. They are basically recovery meetings for lawyers. Also contact local bar associations about lawyer recovery meetings. You may gain some helpful professional contacts there at well!

    • Recovered 3L

      Hi Recovering 1L, keep in mind that what you are going through now as a student, even with exams upon you, is likely nothing compared to what you went through before you got sober. You have tools available to you, and a pattern of living to guide you, that most of your classmates could never fathom. Dick’s suggestions are spot-on. I’m a 3L and met some local recovering lawyers through meetings I was attending, but also by offering to volunteer my time through the state bar’s Lawyer Assistance Program. I was careful to maintain my anonymity until I was sure I was speaking to a fellow recovering alcoholic, but I ended up meeting some great folks in recovery. I also was able to get in contact with people locally by becoming a member of International Lawyer’s in AA, which allowed me to e-mail and meet folks who had registered themselves as members and provided their contact information. Also, a side benefit to all of this is that I now have a professional network that my classmates don’t even know exists, nor have any access to.

  • jay Leone

    this couldn’t possibly describe myself and my recovery efforts any more accurately!

    Im not a lawyer (and sadly never will be), but since a very young age, my parents told me that I should pursue a career in law – based on my over analytical reasoning “skills”, my persistence in never taking “no” for an answer, along with a super ego and an ultra conpetitive nature (basically everything the author described from his own experience!)

    Once the pink cloud wears off (and it always does, sorry to break it to those still riding theirs) my advice to you is ride it as long as you possiblely can…. but work to develop coping skills and prepare emotionally and spiritually for when real life sets in and hits you like a freight train, (cause it will ) and not to preach whatsoever, but if you are open to it, getting active in AA and working the steps will without a doubt give you these coping skills.

    So for me, when the pink cloud and the novelty of being newly sober wear off,i begin to rationalize and even convince myself that “maybe I have this addiction thing beat” and “maybe I can just drink/use once in a while”, which anyone in recovery would tell you is a GAWSHDARN PIPEDREAM!!! Like the author, I’ve tried this several times, only to confirm everything everyone’s ever told me, IT ALWAYS GETS WORSE!

    EVEN THE SMARTEST PEOPLE IN THE WORLD –ASTROPHYSICISTS, ROCKET SCIENTISTS, BRAIN SWRGEONS, ALBERT EINSTEIN, THE VALEDICTORIAN OF HARVARD -ALL OF THEIR COLLECTIVE BRAINPOWER, ARE UTTERLY INCAPABLE OF OUT SMARTING THIS DISEASE.

    The statistics are skewed heavily in favor of the disease of addiction. Ive never heard of someone out smarting this insidious disease but I sure have heard of hundreds of thousands if not millions of people who have fell victim to the disease trying to outsmart it.

    Sorry for the rant, but it’s just something I feel very strongly about, especially being an addict in recovery my self. So to everyone struggling, and those in recovery, I have unconditional love for each and everyone of you. The only person who can truly comprehend what we go through every day, every hour, every minute and for some every second, is a fellow addict!

  • Rocky

    Hey Sober Lawyer,

    Funny story, I’m a doctor and my story is similar. Drank to actually cope with my panic attacks when I wound up in the ER in college. I found that Alcohol actually worked to stop the anxiety. Amazing how that works! Of course, i think in my story I was already well on my way to alcoholism by the time I landed in the ER. Now I take a low dose SSRI as well. 😉

  • Kate

    Hello, do you have any advice/recommendations for a recovering alcoholic who is in process of taking LSATs and applying to Law schools? Are there Grants/scholarships available? Are there any schools in a particular that seek to include recovering addicts in their programs?

    • Dick

      No sorry I don’t think there are any special programs. -Dick

  • Pingback: Lawyer Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Frequent Causes of Discipline | IPethics & INsights()

  • Jessi

    Hi Dick, I have been reading your blog and I think your insight would be helpful to a research paper I am writing for school. It is going to be about substance abuse in the field of law. I cannot use blogs for my paper, but I can use personal interviews. Would you be interested in being one of my sources, and if so, what would be the best way to contact you?

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