To the Editor,
Congratulations to Texas Lawyer for publishing the timely and extremely important article by Lisa Blue Barron, Alexandra Figari and Robert Hirschhorn regarding recognition of the signs of substance abuse among our peers. [See " Recognize the Signs of Substance Abuse," Aug. 26, 2013, page 28.] Having practiced law for more than 41 years and seen firsthand the destructive nature of drug and alcohol addiction and mental illness among our peers, I believe strongly there is no more important job for all of us than understanding these illnesses and assisting our friends to the extent we can in obtaining therapeutic services.
Having said this, I suggest these fine writers and my friends left out a very important paragraph from their article. A short paragraph about the availability and importance of the State Bar of Texas Lawyers Assistance Program should have been included. Ann Foster and her staff do an outstanding job of running this completely confidential service for lawyers with addiction or mental illness problems on a very limited budget. TLAP has tremendous resources and support from literally hundreds of recovering lawyers who are always willing and able to do whatever is asked of them to assist one of their peers. Recently, I was personally faced with a situation in which a good friend was drinking heavily and making threats of suicide. I called Ann and received great advice as to things I could do to, at the very least, reduce the risk of this person taking his life.
Ann Foster can be reached at 800-343-8527 or www.texasbar.com/tlap. Lisa, Alexandra and Robert are entirely correct in urging us to recognize the signs of substance abuse. I would only add that once those signs are recognized, TLAP should become involved.
Sommerman & Quesada