California Lawyers Association

September Is National Recovery Month

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September 2022

By Greg Dorst JD, CADC II 

Recovery is for Everyone: Every Person, Every Family, Every Community.

Celebrating recovery from addiction and mental health challenges is a key feature of National Recovery Month. This September marks the 32nd year of this event. National Recovery Month serves to highlight successful recovery from the insidious nature of addiction and mental health concerns. It is also a time to educate and inspire people in all walks of life to take a look at what is going on in their lives and to explore change. The theme, “Recovery is for Everyone:  Every Person, Every Family, Every Community”, has within it the kernel of truth that substance use disorders (SUD) and mental health (MH) conditions affect everyone, from those suffering, to their circle of family and friends, as well as ancillary affects throughout the broader community. Although National Recovery Month was first developed as a way to highlight SUD and MH concerns and instill in our communities the truth that sufferers can recover from these seemingly hopeless states of mind and body, recovery has now become the rallying cry for behavioral change in any area of one’s life. “Recovery” has now taken on the broader mantle of healing. Everyone has an element of their life that needs healing; we can all relate to this idea and begin to dispense with the shame and guilt around this fact.

September is also the month for the Annual Membership Meeting of the CLA. What a time to combine Attorney Wellness with the healing consciousness of National Recovery Month! The CLA Wellness Committee has designed a suite within the San Diego Hilton Bayfront dedicated to Wellness. The Wellness Suite will be open from September 15-17, and offer recovery meetings, meditation meetings, quiet contemplation and conversation away from the hustle and bustle of bars and parties. Drop by and take a break; have a snack and a cup of coffee or tea. Come and enjoy the library of resources and the view. Recover for the moment or plant the seed for a new way of living-either way, the Wellness Suite welcomes you.

When the topic of recovery arises, lawyers think of the Other Bar, a private nonprofit dedicated to serving lawyers, judges and law students who wish to find continuous sobriety and a fellowship of like-minded people and the Lawyers Assistance Program (LAP), an intensive recovery resource which truly does save lives and careers. Both of these resources will be available through the Wellness Suite at the Annual Meeting this year. We believe that it is important to provide this kind of support as research continues to scientifically establish that being a lawyer is hard. As lawyers, we have our own issues with life. All indicators point to the conclusion that, as a profession, we do not handle the complex demands of lawyering in a way that promotes wellness in other areas of our lives. The American Bar Association & Hazelden-Betty Ford Foundation Study completed in 2016 as well as the Stress, drink, leave: An examination of gender-specific risk factors for mental health problems and attrition among licensed attorneys  published in 2021, highlight how unhealthy we have become as a professional community. These studies along with our knowledge that recovery is not only possible but available to those who are willing to change, has brought about a movement which is building momentum throughout out nation. This lawyer health and wellness movement is focused on making the profession better by keying on relevant wellness topics including but not limited to SUD and MH recovery issues. Lawyer wellness has 8 dimensions:

  • Physical
  • Social
  • Emotional
  • Occupational
  • Financial
  • Spiritual
  • Intellectual
  • Environmental

These 8 dimensions are often intertwined; each of the dimensions is worth exploring to see if change may be necessary. Holistic health and wellness may be found in balancing wellness strategies in each dimension. Developing clarity and focus which is so necessary in the change process requires an awareness of who we are and how we operate in these various dimensions. Exploration of these various dimensions and how they relate to the life of a lawyer has been a key aspect of lawyer wellbeing.

The lawyer wellbeing movement is gaining momentum. In 2016, in response to The American Bar Association & Hazelden-Betty Ford Foundation Study referenced above, The Institute for Well-Being in Law (IWIL) was established. IWIL is dedicated to the betterment of the legal profession by focusing on a holistic approach to well-being. Through advocacy, research, education, technical and resource support, and stakeholders’ partnerships, the IWIL is driven to lead a culture shift in law to establish health and well-being as core centerpieces of professional success. The seeds of change are sown. The fruit is balance, fulfillment and joy in the practice of law.

“The lights are now on, and somebody is home.”    Greg Dorst

Greg Dorst is a consultant for the Other Bar and can be reached at and/or (626) 222-6299. Please visit for more information.

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