Lawyers, judges getting substance abuse help from assistance program

Alcohol and drug addiction can attack anyone, even lawyers and judges. But there is a program out there to help.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) -- Many of us have stressful jobs and some take their toll more than others.

Research from the American Society of Addiction Medicine shows lawyers are much more likely to abuse substances or have mental health concerns, when compared to the general population.

But there is a program out there to help them, and their families. It's called JLAP.

Alcohol and drug addiction can attack anyone. "Nobody chooses to be an addict…trust me," said Colin Jorgensen.  He speaks from experience. "My name is Colin, and I'm an alcoholic.”

Jorgensen is an attorney and a recovering alcoholic. He's healing thanks to a call he made seven years ago to JLAP, the Arkansas Judges and Lawyers Assistance Program.

"Addiction is a progressive, sinister and fatal disease. Those of us in recovery, we understand that. JLAP understands that."

JLAP helps with more than just addiction. They also teach lawyers and judges and their families how to overcome stress. Something former Arkansas Supreme Court Justice Annabelle Imber Tuck constantly battled.

"You're dealing with issues that are there for good reasons," she said. Before she sat on the high court, there was no JLAP, so she took it upon herself to stay mentally clear. "I made a personal decision that I would have a therapist.”

She said the stigma of mental health issues today is not the same as it was back then. "But, I'm just not going to worry about that any more. I'm 67 and I've decided here's what you get."

What Jorgensen got was sober. He's using his life to reach out to other alcoholics or addicts, telling them his story. "They hear a lot of similarity in that story," he said. "And it may be the first time they realize they are not terminally unique. There are other people just like me, this guy went through the same thing, and he's smiling and his life is fine, maybe I can have a life like that too. And then you work from there on recovery."

JLAP is having a benefit dinner Tuesday, November 7 at the Robinson Center.

If you'd like more information about JLAP, the dinner or how to donate, click here.

And if you need help, please know you are not alone. Talk to your doctor.

© 2017 KTHV-TV


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