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Recovery: Personal Stories   
Recovery: Personal Stories

Lawyers in Recovery: Personal Stories

  • Getting On with It: Recovery Success Stories by Donald Muccigrosso and Donna L. Spilis

If you or someone you know can identify with any of the situations related in the following stories, be assured that help is available.

Learning the Truth Too Late-Jim, California

To almost any outside observer in 1980, I was sitting on top of the world. Maybe not a very big world, but one that a lot of us know. I was 28 years old, a very successful solo practitioner with a practice growing beyond my wildest dreams, and a "hometown boy" to boot. Single, living in a beautiful new home, and driving a 450 SL Mercedes, I had money in the bank, clients knocking on my door, and all the external trappings of a successful young professional. On the inside, however, things were different. I felt lonely in a crowd much of the time. I felt like the roll was being called somewhere I was supposed to be, but I was in the wrong place trying to maintain control of a world I did not create. I wished I could let someone know how I felt, but what would that person think? I concluded that I was just missing something...something I would find and add to my life to be complete.

Now it is more than ten years later; a beautiful day outside threatens to distract me from putting words to my story, my life. But a man who helped to save my life says I might help others by doing so. "Pass it on," he reminds me. The roll is being called again here and now. The problem with "before and after" pictures is that they do not communicate the intense experiences in between, the essence of life. My own "after" photo would show a little less hair and a few more lines and wrinkles. It would not show the pain accompanying the loss of what I had, including my license to practice law. It would not show my struggle for self-respect once I was stripped, in a very public and humiliating way, of those external trappings I mentioned. For that matter, neither would it show the joy and childlike happiness coming with freedom from addiction, nor the soul-deep assurance that I no longer have to drink or use any mood- or mind-altering chemical to feel OK about myself and the world. I am the only one who can tell this story from the inside out.

It has now been more than five years since I got sober, 60-plus months since I hesitantly stepped into a treatment center for drug and alcohol dependence. I was not pleased to be there. By December 1984, my life was a shambles-personally, professionally, financially, emotionally, spiritually, physically, and in any other way one might gauge oneself. I was morally bankrupt. I was financially bankrupt. I had no future. My future was behind me. I was also more frightened than I had ever been in my life because I knew if I was to continue to draw breath, it would have to be sober breath. I was pretty sure that was impossible.

A Woman Lawyer's Story of Alcoholism & Recovery

  • Trapped...or so I Thought
I entered law school at the age of 21, graduated at 23 and at 25 had an office overlooking Stanley Park as an associate with a well known downtown law firm. My performance evaluations were excellent. Immediately after being called to the bar, I was fortunate to find myself the junior of a well-known and respected senior lawyer practicing in an area of law of great interest to me. I was provided with an opportunity to work on high-profile cases and was exposed to the type of work and client base that most young lawyers only dream of.

During the course of the year following my call, I was consistently acknowledged for the quality of my work. I was permitted to participate in just about any case that was of interest to me. I was praised for my ability to effectively deal with clients and was directly responsible for a large number of significant files. In addition, I was well liked by my co-workers at the firm and in general. Upon reflection, my career at that time could be described as nothing other than promising. It was, however, a house of cards....

Read the rest of the article.

Two Attorneys Speak Out on Depression

"There May Be a Reason Life Seems so Rough"

download the PDF

"Driving Past the Bar Center"

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