Nothing provides more hope to a person struggling with addiction or a mental health problem than a story of success. The stories included in this section are intended to offer inspiration as you continue on your path to recovery.

An Attorney’s Story of Recovery

attorneyI grew up in a family surrounded by alcohol and alcoholic behavior, totally unaware at the time that there was anything unhealthy or dysfunctional about my environment. Despite the chaos and unpredictability of my early years, I seemed to thrive. I largely avoided alcohol and drugs throughout my years in college and law school due to an overwhelming fear of failure. I was fully convinced I must spend every waking hour studying, striving, and trying to succeed – constantly seeking to prove to myself and others that my success as a student would prove my value as a person.

By most external standards, I was successful. I did well in school and later did well in the practice of law. I managed to marry and have a family. My constant fear of failure, however, never left me. I discovered early in my practice that there was one thing that seemed to allay my ever-present fears – alcohol. With just a few drinks, I could make those fears go away for a time. I could enjoy myself and enjoy others; I could avoid obsessing about this client or that upcoming trial. Very simply, I could live.

At first, I managed to balance my drinking and my law practice so that neither seemed to interfere with the other. The trajectory of my drinking was classic. My tolerance increased dramatically. My 3 or 4 drinks after work became insufficient to do their magic; 6 or 8 drinks eventually became necessary. After 20+ years, I needed not only significantly greater amounts of alcohol, but I needed alcohol consistently throughout my day. I would drink shortly after getting up in the morning, on my way to work, during the noon hour, in the mid-afternoon, and throughout the evening. I hid most of my drinking from my family and my law partners—it was my business, not theirs.

Eventually, my wife and others intervened and got me into treatment. I was introduced to the 12-Step program of Alcoholics Anonymous and there I found other men and women who shared many of my own experiences and fears. They showed me that life without alcohol and drugs was really possible; that it could actually be fun, rewarding, and even joyful. I learned that life’s challenges would certainly continue, but they could be faced, and survived, in sobriety. I learned to address my fears in healthy ways.

During early recovery, I contacted the Oregon Attorney Assistance Program (www.oaap.org), a confidential, voluntary, and free program available to all Oregon attorneys, judges, and law students. They provided me with many invaluable resources and introduced me to other lawyers in recovery. I am immensely grateful to them, to my wonderful family, and all those who have helped me when I could not help myself. They saved my life. I continue to work my program of recovery, to reach out to others, and to try to give back some of what has been so freely given to me.

—A Recovering Lawyer

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