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Treat Addiction Like Cancer

OPINION – By Laura Hilgers

Ms. Hilgers has written about having a child with an addiction.

Two years ago, I spent a week in Houston helping my stepbrother while he underwent treatment for Stage 4 lymphoma at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. I sat with him while a nurse cleaned his chemo port and made records of her work, to keep his medical team updated. I accompanied him for the blood tests that determined his readiness for the next treatment. I stayed by his bed as his stem cells were harvested for a transplant, one of the cutting-edge, evidence-based therapies that ultimately saved his life.

Around the same time, I was helping my 22-year-old daughter, who struggled with alcohol and drug addiction. The contrast between the two experiences was stark. While my stepbrother received a doctor’s diagnosis, underwent a clearly defined treatment protocol and had his expenses covered by insurance, there was no road map for my daughter. She had gone undiagnosed for several years, despite my reaching out to her health care providers, who either minimized my concerns or weren’t sure what to do.

I had to hire an expensive interventionist — a professional who helps families find appropriate care and runs interventions — to find names of treatment centers. I spent weeks calling programs, asking questions and waiting to learn what insurance would cover. Finally, after my daughter agreed to treatment and we paid all costs up front, I sent her to a 45-day Arizona inpatient program, praying it would work.

Addiction, like cancer, is a complex disease that requires a multipronged approach. It also affects 1.5 times as many people as those with all cancers combined, and it was pivotal in causing some 64,000 overdose deaths in 2016 alone. It makes no sense that what is fast becoming our greatest health care crisis is still dealt with mostly outside the mainstream medical system.


2019-02-23T17:37:05-04:00August 6th, 2018|

How Positive Sobriety Institute Partners with Louisiana Judges and Lawyers Assistance Program

May 31, 2018

Note from Dan Angres, MD, Medical Director of Positive Sobriety Institute 

We are thrilled to announce that the Louisiana Judges and Lawyers Assistance Program (JLAP) has chosen Positive Sobriety Institute as one of its partners in providing treatment for substance use and co-occurring disorders for attorneys, judges, law students and their families.

As the founder and medical director of Positive Sobriety Institute, I’ve worked with professionals in safety-sensitive professions such as healthcare and the law for 35 years. I can say without reserve that the work being done by Buddy Stockwell, executive director of the Louisiana Judges and Lawyers Assistance Program, is astounding. JLAP has demonstrated annual programming success rates as high as 97% in abstinence for the members of the legal profession who utilize their monitoring program.

JLAP clinical standards are based on best practices from physicians’ health programs, which provide assessment, treatment and monitoring for physicians in recovery from alcohol and drug addiction. In published studies, physicians’ health programs have a proven high rate of success in helping healthcare professionals achieve long-term sobriety and continue to practice medicine.  

One of the questions we have sought to answer in the addiction medicine research is whether the high rates of success among healthcare professionals is translatable to other professions. Louisiana’s JLAP has shown that they are. This is profoundly important for our field.

To help attorneys struggling with addiction understand how lawyers assistance programs can help them, Stockwell shares what attorneys entering JLAP can expect, what motivates him, and how his organization works to ensure lawyers receive the best addiction rehab.


2019-02-23T17:37:05-04:00June 12th, 2018|

Continued Success at the 2nd Annual Retreat for National LAP and JLAP Directors


On May 4-6th 2018, Directors and Assistant Directors, from across the country and Canada, came together in Atlanta, GA, for the second Annual Independent LAP and JLAP Directors Retreat. Expanding on the success of last year’s meeting, this year’s event was organized by the North Carolina, Delaware, Ohio, South Carolina and Wisconsin programs.

The mission of this retreat is to provide a closed, confidential forum wherein State LAP and JLAP Directors and Assistant Directors can engage on a business level as a group and share in-depth information about the challenges they face and discuss strong strategic planning methods.

Several presentations were made over the course of the one-and-a-half-day meeting including: how to best assist law schools; spreading the word through pro-active marketing; and individual breakout sessions discussing specialized challenges for both large and small LAP/JLAP programs.

This weekend has proven to be a great resource for all programs involved.  2019 is already in the works!

2019-02-23T17:37:05-04:00June 5th, 2018|

The 2015 JLAP Performance Audit’s Expert Team Renders a Supplemental Report on “Diagnostic Monitoring”

As part of the 2015 JLAP Performance Audit, it was recommended that JLAP offer “Diagnostic Monitoring” in appropriate cases. In order to help facilitate JLAP’s ability to provide Diagnostic Monitoring, JLAP has obtained a February 2018 Supplemental Report that clearly defines Diagnostic Monitoring, the clinical situations wherein it may be appropriate, and the clinical protocols that are required in providing that type of monitoring. You can access the complete Supplemental Report on Diagnostic Monitoring here:

Audit Team Clinical Recommendations for Diagnostic Monitoring – February 2018

If you have questions about Diagnostic Monitoring, or any of JLAP’s many services, please call JLAP at (985) 778-0571 or e-mail to jlap@louisianajlap.com

2018-03-21T20:38:36-04:00March 21st, 2018|

Long-Term Marijuana Use is Associated with Health Problems Later in Life

This study found that:

  • Marijuana users exhibited six different patterns of marijuana use from ages 18 to 50.
  • Longer-term marijuana use (extending from age 18 into the late 20s or beyond) was associated with increased risk of self-reported health problems at age 50.

Attitudes and policies regarding recreational marijuana use are becoming increasingly permissive. To effectively address the implications of these developments, researchers and policy makers need to understand how much and how long people use marijuana during the lifespan, and the degree to which different use patterns are associated with long-term issues such as health status.

To read more, click here.


2018-03-06T16:12:25-04:00March 6th, 2018|

ABA Law Practice Today August 2018 Issue – Attorney Well-Being

Burning the Candle at Both Ends Backfires

There’s no getting around it—law is a high-stress, demanding profession. In a culture that measures drive and achievement in billable hours, many lawyers feel compelled to demonstrate their commitment by arriving early, working late, and being reachable around the clock. This 24/7, no-boundaries work ethic has been reinforced by technological developments that facilitate constant connectivity and firm policies that tie bonuses to face time and hours accrued.

But research shows that working longer is not necessarily working better. Rather, every marathon work session has a point of diminishing returns, where plowing forward becomes counterproductive, as cognitive resources are inevitably depleted and we become more prone to error. Some studies indicate that people who over-commit themselves to work ultimately end up underperforming, as they are far more susceptible to exhaustion and burnout.

Notably, this occurs even when people are deeply passionate about their work: According to Robert J. Vallerand, a leading scholar in motivational processes and optimal functioning, there are two distinct types of passion—“harmonious” and “obsessive”—which have markedly different implications for long-term performance. While harmoniously passionate people are able to disengage from work when appropriate (keeping their work in “harmony” with their other activities), obsessively passionate workers cannot help but to rigidly persist in their efforts, even when this creates conflict with other life domains. The end result is that, while harmoniously passionate workers enjoy increased positive emotions, flow states, and psychological resilience, obsessively passionate workers are more likely to suffer from emotional exhaustion and burnout (not to mention poorer health and lower life-and relationship-satisfaction).

In other words, it is simply not possible to consistently give your all when you are working all the time. Taking breaks, on the other hand, has been shown not only to replenish energy and promote focus, productivity, and creativity in the short-term, but also to foster long-term engagement, motivation, and goal-commitment. If you want to achieve lasting success and satisfaction in your law practice, it is in your best interest to take a little bit of time each day to relax and regenerate.

Of course, finding space in your busy schedule for daily breaks will not be easy—it will require dedication and planning. But if you are willing to apply the same level of diligence to self-care as you do in your legal career, the long-term benefits you will reap will be well worth the effort.

Here are some tips to get you started.


2019-02-26T15:59:41-04:00January 21st, 2018|