The following is written by Chuck Pekor, personally:

It will certainly not come as a surprise to anyone reading this that substance abuse in all its varied forms has become a major blight in Georgia and throughout America. Illegal drugs such as methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin, "Extacy," and many others are destroying the lives of individuals, familes, and entire communities. "Legal" prescription drugs, often obtained without prescriptions, including "painkilers" such as oxycotin, hydrocodone, and others are incredibly addictive, and their use is approaching epidemic scale. And then of course we always have with us our old friend, alcohol.

Many people drink socially, and do not have the "addictive gene", so occasional alcohol use is not a problem for individuals who are not addicts or alcoholics, or have the gene. I certainly do not condemn responsible social imbibing of alcohol. However, I myself, am a recovering alchlolic. On February 28, 2010, I reached 25 years in AA and sobriety.
Before I was able to find my way to sobriety through AA, I created an enormous amount of pain and devastation for myself and many people around me, most of whom cared about me. I am honored that I am able to "pay back" some of what I have gained by servng as the Vice-Chairperson of the State Bar of Georgia's Lawyer Assistance Program Committee. The State Bar of Georgia runs a very wide ranging "assistance program" somewhat similiar to the "Employee Assistance Programs" that most major corporation now offer. All large organizations have learned that in addition to helping their employees, they help their organization by providing help to employees who need it.

In our State Bar of Georgia Lawyer Assistance Program, while a great deal of this work is helping lawyers with substance abuse problems, and their partners and families, our "LAP" program is a very broad program, offering help with many of the family and personal problems and issues we all find we have to deal with from time to time in today's complicated world. This includes everything from marital and family counseling to assistance with finding programs, facilities and help with elderly parents, or in some cases elderly lawyers who don't have a firm or partners, or family members able to help.
At the same time in my fairly broad civil, consumer, and criminal defense practice, I constantly find myself dealing with client issues that are either centered on, or involve some aspect of substance abuse or mental health issues. The most obvious are clients with drug charges. Although I don't normally handle DUI matters myself, I see many clients whose DUI charges have enormously impacted their lives, and abilities to earn a living. Also, I see families torn apart by drug problems. One of the most disheartening things I deal with is a client who had a good job, family, and life, which has been essentially destroyed by their drug addiction.

Luckily, many of our courts are recognizing more and more that drug and alcohol addiction is a disease. This will never be a "get out of jail free" card, because you still have to deal with the damage you have done, but the attitudes of courts and prosecutors are changing, particularly where the individual is willing to admit and confront the addiction, and take honest and sincere steps to try to deal with it.

in any event, because of my personal experience as a recovering alcoholic with many years of sobriety, and my involvement with the State Bar drug, alcohol and mental health programs, I am sometimes uniquely able to assist such clients, as long as they want to help themselves.

Chuck Pekor, March, 2010


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