Editor’s note: TLAP offers confidential assistance for lawyers, law students, and judges with substance use or mental health issues. Call or text TLAP at 1-800-343-8527 (TLAP) or find more information at tlaphelps.org.
My story starts in high school where I was introduced to drugs and alcohol. Where it went off the rails was the fall of my college freshman year. I went to a party with someone I just met where I was publicly sexually assaulted. I didn’t tell anyone and instead fell into a deep pit of drugs, alcohol, and an eating disorder. These self-destructive behaviors were easy solutions to push away my anxiety, fears, and self-loathing. At this point, I was blackout drinking most weekends. After graduation it got worse. At this point, my drug use was a daily struggle. Cocaine got me out of bed and kept me skinny. I had surrounded myself with a group of people where this was acceptable behavior until I started law school and met someone with a similar past. She showed me that there was another way. I started attending AA with her because I knew I couldn’t keep living this way. I knew I needed to stop drugs, but alcohol was harder for me to see the problem. I have learned that is part of my disease. Since that time, I have been successful in keeping drugs at bay, but I, like many young lawyers, thought the binge drinking happy hours were just a way of life. In 2006, I woke up in the ER with alcohol poisoning and that shook me. For the next 10 years, I kept my drinking to holidays or special occasions, but still over indulged every time. But I couldn’t have a drinking problem because I wasn’t drinking daily—so I thought.
In 2017 I divorced, and instead of dealing with all of those emotions, I yet again looked to alcohol. I would swear it off and then start the cycle again. In May 2020, I went to a friend’s for a glass of wine. I must have said, “just one glass” ten times before we polished off four bottles. I woke up the next morning with no memory of how I got home, knowing full well I drove. That was it. I made a call to a fellow attorney I knew who was in recovery. He listened to me and took me to a meeting. I credit him for saving my life by answering that call.
What I have learned is that alcoholics come in all variations. Just because I didn’t drink daily, didn’t mean my drinking wasn’t a serious problem. What I have found in LCL is a place where we can discuss our struggles and the solutions. It isn’t only a 12-step meeting so the topics can be more varied and include other struggles that we may face. I just celebrated a year of sobriety. What I expected was to stop my merry-go-round of drinking. What I have gained is a new perspective on life, a support system, an amazing group of friends, and finally a real understanding of how all of these self-destructive behaviors are rooted in the same place. But most importantly I was given the solution. The relief I have found in participating in recovery and working the steps have given me the peace and serenity I had been missing most of my life.