INTRODUCTION EXCERPT: These excerpts are not professionally edited as my book will be. These excerpts may appear differently in the final product. They are posted only for a preview of content.
I am a lawyer. Well, I was once a lawyer. I was an addicted lawyer.
I was addicted to cocaine, alcohol and Ambien for starters. (Ambien withdrawal is brutal) Loved the long oblong Xanax pills and opioid medication when I could get it either through a friend who battled leukemia or making up pain I didn’t have for a prescription.
I never used heroin, crack cocaine or “meth”. I don’t know why. Maybe just the circles I ran in. Maybe my self- deception of “privileged status” cause me to consider crack and meth beneath me. Not just status of occupation but status of a last name in a town where more often than not it was recognized. It got me things. It got me drugs and easier access to drugs. I was a high class, suburban addict. Poor people used crack. Suburban housewives, “Hillbillies” and “Rednecks” used meth. Powdered cocaine only. My drug buddies only used powdered cocaine(at least in front of me). I knew where to get my powdered cocaine. Hand to hand cocaine and money exchanges in the garage of the Merrill Lynch Building where my gym was. Cocaine and a workout. Transactions outside of bars just off the campus of Southern Methodist University were easy. Hundred dollars in hand, window open. Boom! Just keep driving. A personal drug-dealer who made house calls and gave me coke on credit when I was broke. My kind of guy.
The only pause and second guessing I ever had during the climb to the apex of the addiction roller coaster, was the very first time I used as thoughts of Lenny Bias went through my mind as the powder entered my right nostril. Lenny, a first round draft pick of the NBA Boston Celtics in 1986 is a cautionary tale that anyone can die using cocaine the first time or the one thousand time. No warning. No second chance. Just dead. Lenny died on in such a way on July 19th 1986. Just under three months before I took my first snort. I had no idea what I was putting my my nose any more than Lenny did. I was chasing a feeling that I had been chasing since my teens. That chase was more powerful than thoughts of Lenny. That chase was more powerful than being prevented from taking the Texas bar exam if I was caught. The latter thought never entered my mind then or a few moments later when I was officially a drug addict. The very… first.. time..
Heroin was not my thing. I’ve never seen anyone use heroin. If I had, and it looked like they were having the feelings I considered important in my high, I would have gone that way. It was all about achieving a feeling that made me feel like I was accepted and loved and confident. Cocaine gave me that (at first) so that was fine. Heroin was also very expensive at that time as compared to cocaine. Today it has reversed and we are in the midst of a heroin addiction and prescription opioid addiction epidemic. It’s in the news every day. People dying. Young people. Old people.
I am currently in long term recovery and have been since April 8th 2007. Hopefully still going strong, one day at a time, when you read this book. I attend 12-step meetings at various rates. I have never been to in-patient drug or alcohol treatment. I have been in private counseling with a shrink for many years. Think that’s enough? I’m not done yet..
I also battled an eating disorder for over two decades. Yes, men do get eating disorders. Let’s keep going. I self-harmed for a while. Loved to punch myself in the face when I felt stupid. Who does that? Clinically depressed. Came close to suicide in 2005. Two trips to a local psychiatric facility. Wrap it all up in a package called body dysmorphic disorder. Ok. I’m done.
Quite a resume of dysfunction if I must say so myself! I know what you’re thinking. “He’s a lawyer” With all that going on, this guy had to have been disciplined by a state bar at some point. Stolen client money at some point to fund his habit. Sued for malpractice? Disbarred? My answer is no to all.
You forgot one question. Ask me if my ongoing dysfunction prevented me from providing my clients with the effort and service they expect and deserve when giving me their hard earned money to represent them. Ask me if I should have been have had grievances filed against me for failure to provide proper representation and taking cases I was not qualified to take because I needed money to fund my addiction. The answer is yes.
Ask me if I would have done better as a law student if I would have taken advantage of whatever mental health resources the University Of Pittsburgh had in the mid 1980’s. I honestly don’t know. I generally don’t believe in looking back on “revisionist recovery” but it probably would have only helped. In this book I will engage in it to some degree and tell you what I wish I had done and what I wish was available to me and what is available to you present day.
None of this is something a lawyer probably wants to include on his/her Biglaw or in-house resume or a law student wants to reveal to the National Conference of Bar Examiners when applying to take the bar exam or even to the student health services of his/her law school. Better to maintain the appearance of strength than actually be strong. That’s what being a lawyer is about right? The projection of confidence and strength in an adversarial system inherently designed for our opponents to take advantage of perceived weakness, no matter what that weakness, including mental health challenges. Why even bother getting help. Why even talk about it?