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When and How to Employ “Section 35”

Many of us have endured the excruciating situation in which a loved one is caught up in an addiction and we have very limited ability to protect them from themselves.  In most cases, this is where options like Intervention or resources like Al-Anon can be helpful tools.  When addictive behavior remains active and imminently life-threatening (a possibility of which we are all more aware lately in light of the surging rates of opioid overdose), a possible stopgap action is to seek to compel a period of involuntary alcohol/drug oriented hospitalization in a locked setting. 

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New Study on Substance Abuse, Depression, and Anxiety among Lawyers

A new study published this month in the Journal of Addiction Medicine confirms that lawyers have higher than average rates of alcohol abuse, depression and stress.  The Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation and the American Bar Association Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs (CoLAP) collaborated in a survey of over 12,000 attorneys in 19 states (not including Massachusetts).  We know that the legal profession is a stressful profession with prior studies showing higher rates of alcohol abuse and depression than the general population, but find it gravely concerning that the levels of substance abuse, depression and stress remain so high, particularly among younger attorneys. 

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New Year’s Resolutions – Start small

Every year I make the same resolution. My resolution is to not make any resolutions this year. And every year, I break my resolution simply by making it. This is my way of taking away the guilt or pressure of making lofty goals that will most likely be broken sometime in the near future. This is our human nature: we get excited about change, start to make a change, realize that change actually takes hard work, get discouraged by that requirement, start failing in our efforts, and then stop making progress entirely. This is why so many people buy gym memberships at the start of the year and then stop using them entirely in March. This is also why gyms do not expand their space due to the influx of new members at the beginning of the year. They know that the numbers will decrease rapidly.

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Getting Through the Holidays – Maintaining Sobriety

(Originally posted on 11/25/14)

The holiday season is upon us and it is a good time to review some helpful tips about avoiding pitfalls and setting yourself up for success this time of year. The trifecta, as it is often called (Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s), is historically a more challenging time of year for many of us. If the holiday season represents happy times with family and friends; then that’s great, enjoy. For many of us, this time of year brings with it social engagements with friends and family members that often include potentially risky, if not just uncomfortable, situations where your resolve is tested. It should come as no surprise to anyone that there is a higher likelihood of being offered, gifted, or simply being in the presence of more alcohol and substances over the holiday season. Here are some helpful tips to keep in mind as you make holiday plans. The tip that underlies all of the rest is, “Plan ahead!” As the saying goes, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

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Resilience: Internal Resources (Part 2)

In a previous post I talked about the importance of resilience in our day to day lives. One contributor to resilience is our experience of external supports (perceived and enacted). Another source of resources is within us. The more resilient we are, the more quickly we are able to rebound from challenging circumstances. This is true of major life events (adjusting to losing a job) as well as everyday sources of stress (unexpected work that gets dropped in your lap). The more resilient a person feels, the more confidence they have in their ability to withstand the turmoil that comes their way each day.

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Shedding Some Light on Blackouts

In her new book, Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget, Sarah Hepola looks back on and illuminates her drinking life, a time when she recurrently found herself awakening in the bed of a stranger and told herself that it meant that she was free and empowered rather than imprisoned in a horror show. Sarah experienced drinking as a doorway to feeling better about herself – her intellect, her body – and, as it is for many alcoholics, sexual behavior and alcohol consumption became intertwined. To hear Terry Gross’ interview with this author, who is very open about her story, click here.

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Resilience: Perceived and Enacted Supports (Part 1)

What’s the secret to coming out of a crisis stronger than before? This all-important factor is often referred to as resilience. Resilience refers to the ability to respond to negative life events in a way that preserves and strengthens a person. Resilience is not a single characteristic but instead is the grand sum of all of your protective factors. Researchers often identify several elements that add to someone’s resilience (protective factors), as opposed to the risk factors that we all face in life that can potentially break us down. A person with more protective factors will fare better under stress or during a crisis than a person with fewer protective factors.

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Getting Through the Holidays – Maintaining Sobriety

The holiday season is upon us and it is a good time to review some helpful tips about avoiding pitfalls and setting yourself up for success this time of year. The trifecta, as it is often called (Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s), is historically a more challenging time of year for many of us. If the holiday season represents happy times with family and friends; then that’s great, enjoy. For many of us, this time of year brings with it social engagements with friends and family members that often include potentially risky, if not just uncomfortable, situations where your resolve is tested. It should come as no surprise to anyone that there is a higher likelihood of being offered, gifted, or simply being in the presence of more alcohol and substances over the holiday season. Here are some helpful tips to keep in mind as you make holiday plans. The tip that underlies all of the rest is, “Plan ahead!” As the saying goes, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

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Addiction Rehab – More Caveats

This is my third blog post on the subject of alcohol/drug rehabs.  I pointed out in the first that with few exceptions insurance no longer covers rehab (meaning the month-long version that most people think of), though they may cover detox (a few days) followed by a day program (sometimes with optional self-pay lodging).  Rehabs (like some of the best known and most reliable ones, such as Hazelden and Caron) cost well over $30,000 or $40,000.  I have also cautioned about sorting out fact from hype when reading impressive claims about success rates when you attempt to choose among the many, many rehabs with glossy brochures and web sites (most of them outside Massachusetts). 

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Choosing Rehabs – The Quest to Sort Out Fact from Hype

If you or your family member is a candidate for alcohol/drug rehab of the month-long (or longer) inpatient variety, we have noted in a previous blog post that your health insurance plan will probably not help you with the cost.  So you are in the position of trying to make a choice as an “educated consumer.”  This is not easy, even for us at LCL, since we make very few such referrals in this era when access to that level of care is beyond the means of most of our clients.  

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