Maryland Bar Center
520 West Fayette Street
Baltimore, MD 21201
Direct Line: 443-703-3041
Lisa Caplan, LCSW-C, CAC
Lawyers Assistance Program Counselor
Direct Line: 443-703-3042
Honorable William G. Simmons
Lawyer Assistance Committee Chair
By: Carol P. Waldhauser
The National Drug and Alcohol Commission describe substance abuse as a national public health problem that affects millions of people and imposes enormous financial and social burdens on society. It destroys families, victimizes individuals and communities, and suffocates the educational, criminal justice, and social services systems. It is a disease that can affect anyone, regardless of age, cultural background or profession.
Because people with substance abuse problems often have legal problems, the lawyer is in the unique position to identify, facilitate and support substance abuse treatment and recovery.
If the lawyer is equipped with the knowledge and the skills to identify not treat, chronic substance abuse and/or depression, the lawyer can become a change-agent whereby the client can make a positive change in their life. When the lawyer suspect’s substance abuse, he or she is free to, and should, ask detailed questions about the client, the client's background and the facts and circumstances surrounding a particular problem. Very aware of the confidentiality of their relationship, the client usually will confide facts and circumstances to the lawyer that a spouse, best friend or relative may never hear. If the lawyer's suspicions are confirmed, the lawyer then can zero in on the painful realities, as well as the potential disasters, that can, and most probably will, go hand in hand with the client if he/she fails to change their negative patterns of behavior. Furthermore an informed lawyer has an additional opportunity to suggest treatment options and available recovery support.
A valid argument is made that a lawyer is a counselor in law not a counselor in substance abuse. However, it is the attorney who is usually the first in line to assist the client through a maze of legal problems and to guide them to a favorable solution which may include an evaluation by a substance abuse expert. Why not at least try?
For more information call:
The Lawyer Assistance program
410-685 -7878 x3041