Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - 24

LETTING GO OF THE

STIGMA AROUND RECOVERY
Attorney "C" formerly struggled with alcoholism for years, and after an incident, he
began seeking treatment. Here, C shares more about the tipping point, treatment,
and maintaining sobriety.

I

am an alcoholic. I started drinking at a young age and was a blackout
drinker. I loved alcohol and drank as much as I could, as often as I could,
for 13 years. During my first year of law school, I was working full-time and
attending law classes at night. Because of my work and study schedule,
I was only able to drink about once a month, but when I did, it was to
extreme excess. I think that's important to note here because many people
have the idea that only people who drink around the clock or every day are
alcoholics. People don't realize that alcoholism takes all shapes and forms.
After I finished my first year of law school, I started going to happy hour almost
every day after work and drinking almost every day for a few weeks. This culminated in me getting arrested for public drunkenness after a Friday night at a
nightclub. Thankfully, I wasn't actually charged with anything, but I reported
the incident to my boss because there were people from my industry at the
club. I was concerned that people may have witnessed it and that others would
be talking about it.

My peers know I don't
drink, many of them
know why, and
from what I can
tell, no one thinks
twice about it.

I was placed on a probation period at work and was told to address whatever
issues with alcohol I may have. So, I promised I wouldn't drink and started going
to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. I wasn't interested in quitting drinking,
I was just trying to save my job. I attended meetings every day, and it didn't
take long before I really began to enjoy AA. The people are great.
AA is a strong community and is very social (with approximately 1,000 meetings
per week in the D.C. metropolitan area). It's portrayed in the media as a sad
place with down-and-out people chain smoking cigarettes and complaining
about their lives. In my experience, AA is nothing like that. Especially in D.C.,
AA is full of very successful professionals, many of whom are lawyers. We are all
happy and grateful to be sober. We laugh and joke and celebrate how much
better our lives have become.
My life has only changed for the better since I quit drinking six and a half years
ago. I think a lot of people think that when you stop drinking, your social life
is over and you can't be around alcohol. I go to more happy hours and other
drinking events now than I did when I was actually drinking - and I probably
have more fun at them (not to mention that others enjoy my company much
more when I'm sober). I attend almost every event at my firm, and I'm probably
more active in my firm's social culture than any other associate. And I no longer
wake up after nights out worrying about what I may have said or done. It's
a great feeling.
I also want to mention that I have a tremendous amount of support at work.
My peers know I don't drink, many of them know why, and from what I can tell,
no one thinks twice about it. Some have even asked if they could come to
meetings with me. I also recently shared with my boss that I'm in AA, and she
has been incredibly supportive. Recently, for lack of a better expression, sh*t hit
the fan in my personal life, and I was able to say, "Hey, I need to go to a meeting
tonight." The ability to be open about being in recovery is a gift for which I am
extremely grateful.
I would say for those considering quitting drinking or other substances to
be open-minded and to let go of all the assumptions and stigma around
what recovery looks like, and what life after alcohol looks like. Just check out
a meeting to see what it's all about. I'm happier now than I ever imagined
I would be, with a life I could have only dreamed of when I was drinking.

24 WASHINGTON LAWYER

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JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2019

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http://www.dcbar.org/

Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019

Digital Extras
Your Voice
From Our President
Career & Professional Development
Calendar of Events
Goverment & Gavel
Feature: Fighting the Stigma: The D.C. Bar Lawyer Assistance Program
Feature: The Road to Wellness
Feature: Taking the Stand: How Corporate Monitorships Rein in Misbehavior
Global & Domestic Outlook
Worth Reading & Media Bytes
Attorney Briefs
Ask The Ethics Experts
Disciplinary Summaries
Community & Connections
Last Word
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - Cover1
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - Cover2
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - 1
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - 2
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - 3
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - Digital Extras
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - Your Voice
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - From Our President
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - 7
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - Career & Professional Development
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - 9
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - Calendar of Events
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - 11
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - Goverment & Gavel
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - 13
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - Feature: Fighting the Stigma: The D.C. Bar Lawyer Assistance Program
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - 15
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - 16
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Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - Feature: The Road to Wellness
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - 27
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Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - 30
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - 31
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - Feature: Taking the Stand: How Corporate Monitorships Rein in Misbehavior
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - 33
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - 34
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - 35
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - Global & Domestic Outlook
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - 37
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - Worth Reading & Media Bytes
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - 39
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - Attorney Briefs
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - 41
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - Ask The Ethics Experts
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - 43
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - Disciplinary Summaries
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - 45
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - Community & Connections
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - 47
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - Last Word
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - Cover3
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - Cover4
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