Prior to the creation (and funding) of the Maine Assistance Program, there was an informal affiliation of attorneys and one judge (as far as I know) in recovery, who held themselves out to help attorneys and judges experiencing alcohol and/or drug problems. The names of those offering to help, with their phone numbers, was published regularly in the Maine Bar Newsletter as “Lawyers Helping Lawyers”.
In the early months of 1985, I was in a steep alcoholic decline after two decades of “problem drinking”. On April 11th of that year, and in my second term as the elected District Attorney of Aroostook County, I was arrested for OUI in southern Maine. Within hours of my arrest, I got some very good advice from a colleague, which resulted in my plea of guilty, service of a two-day jail sentence and entry into rehab at Mercy Hospital – all within 72 hours.
During my first night in the hospital, I got a very supportive call from [MAP representative]; and within a few days, the first card I received was from Jessie B. Both were then active in Lawyers Helping Lawyers; and they wanted to let me know that I was not alone! I’ve not had a drink since; and both remain good friends.
Also, at the time of my OUI conviction, the Maine Bar Rules had a provision that a lawyer could be disqualified for actions involving “moral turpitude”; and in some jurisdictions with similar provisions, drunk driving had been deemed a “moral” failure? While no authority ever pursued a proceeding against me under that provision, relying in part on the adoption in 1957 of the “disease concept of alcoholism” by the American Medical Association, Dave and Jessie were instrumental in having the Bar Rules amended to protect against such an interpretation. • Maine attorney
“The process of recovery can be scary as is asking for help. I was really resistant to asking for help and to reach out to MAP. Yet once I did so, it was so much different than i feared it would be. It provided support and accountability with the ultimate goal of helping me (and my career as well) recover. Bill and Kristin are caring and kind people. I cannot express how grateful I am for MAP’s help in getting my life back” • Maine Judge
I used to think of quitting drinking as giving something up, now I think of it as taking back my life: taking back the chance to be fully present for my family, my colleagues, my clients, my neighbors, and most importantly for myself. Another thing I’ve come to know is that connection is the antidote to addiction. Since I’m a lawyer and an introvert, I’m used to wanting to do everything myself and thinking I can, but this is one where I needed (and will continue to need) help. When I made the call to Kristin and to rehab and to a few trusted members of the bar, I didn’t hear any shaming – I heard support, practical guidance, and empathy. Getting that shame out of the way helped me to connect with people honestly and meaningfully for the first time in a long time, and that connection has been the cornerstone of my recovery. • Maine attorney
“I had just about given up when another lawyer who I met at an AA meeting suggested that I contact the MAP. I was out of ideas, so I picked up the phone and called. The very next day, [MAP representative] visited me at my home and, because I felt he really understood what was going on with me, I decided to give this sobriety thing another try. With the help of MAP, I got sober. It wasn’t easy and my path to sobriety was definitely not a straight line. It took a while. But no matter what was going on with me, the MAP was with me every step of the way. I truly believe that the help I got from the MAP saved my life. For that, I am truly grateful”. • Maine attorney
It is my privilege to participate in MAP. I began in early 2014 as a one-year condition to restore my law license after two years away. That condition ended in 2015 but I kept coming back, attending meetings and supporting other Maine lawyers. MAP has been a diverse community of genuine peer support. The group listens to one another and offers suggestions to lawyers who reach out for help. We share common experiences, honor our accomplishments, and stay accountable to one another. Practicing law may not be easy, but it is easier with MAP. All I need to do is show up, pay attention, tell the truth, and I no longer feel alone about my work. My law practice has grown larger each year MAP has been a part of my life. Thanks to Bill, now Kristin, and all who make MAP what it is. • Maine attorney
“My issue was alcohol. For brief periods I could reduce the frequency or amount I drank, convincing myself the problem was not as bad as I thought. But I always went back to drinking the way I had. It grew progressively worse, with mounting catastrophes with family, my partners and ultimately the law. The Maine Lawyers Assistance Program had made itself available to me for several years, but I thought I could handle things alone. When desperation hit and I did the unthinkable and asked for help, MAP was there to help me get through the fear of being a lawyer asking for help. Of meeting other lawyers with similar challenges. Learning I was not alone. And learning a way out. That was over ten years ago.” • Maine Attorney