My story begins after I started my career as an advocate. As I moved up the professional ladder, things from the outside looked good. I lived in a fancy house, drove expensive cars, and was involved in activities in my community. I had more money than I needed. Life was stressful, but I thrived off the excitement of the legal profession.
That lifestyle caught up to me when an investment decision I made went terribly wrong. I lost everything that I invested, leaving a huge amount of debt. I reacted to this financial disaster the only way I knew how: I took on more projects and chased after more money. At night, I would sleep just four hours. I would smoke sixty cigarettes a day. I felt so depressed that I developed palpitations.
My doctor prescribed a sedative, which promised to calm my nerves and preserve my alertness and ability to communicate. The drug did as it promised. I was able to maintain my lifestyle without changing unhealthy habits. For the first two years, everything appeared well. Over time though, I started to realize how uncomfortable I felt without taking the drug. Slowly, my ability to function without the crutch of medication diminished. I became someone who was unpleasant, impatient, and aggressive. My happiness vanished. I felt lonely and depressed. But worse was to come.
My body developed a tolerance to the drug, so I began to crave more. This led me to develop a second addiction, liquor. My addiction to prescription medication was hidden from the outside world, but my addiction to liquor was not so easily disguised. As my craving for liquor grew, my behavior became socially offensive and uncontrollable.
Early one random morning, I got up from bed and drove away. I do not know where I was or what I did for five whole days. It was a complete blackout. After those five days, I was arrested for swerving down the street in my car. The officers suspected I was drunk, but upon further investigation, I had been hallucinating from the prescription medication. Two days later, I was admitted into a rehabilitation center.
When I first got to the rehab center, I only thought that I was addicted to liquor, but I soon had to accept that the prescription drug lay at the root of my drinking problem. This realization shattered me completely. I was overwhelmed with a sense of failure, filled with a fear of losing my practice, forfeiting my status as a successful advocate, and having to experience withdrawal from the substances.
Addiction overtook me on every level. Physically, I felt horrible. Emotionally, I was unstable. Psychologically, I was unreliable. Spiritually, I felt alone. Slowly, I realized that the tale of loneliness that addiction had pressed upon me was only a lie. I remember asking God, “why do I get this second chance?” I had made such a mess of my life. My character and my actions had been so full of cracks, but I had been given the opportunity to try again. Thankfully, light entered the cracks of my life. I began to heal, but the hard part was going back home and into a profession that is often arrogant and unforgiving. Looking past my fears, I knew it had to be done.
I wanted to tell my story so I could share the undeserved grace of a second chance. After rehab, my life took off in ways I never imagined possible. I was chosen to be a senior counsel at my firm, elected into my city’s bar counsel, and later appointed as a judge.
After battling substance abuse, I feel like my life has a real purpose. I have been healed and forgiven, and I want the same for you. I am living proof that you can overcome addiction and still succeed in the legal field. If you are struggling with substance abuse, you do not have to face this alone. Right now is the time to take the first step by contacting a mentor at Issues Lawyers Face who can walk beside you as a friend.