February 21, 2022

Oregon’s Other Bar: Where No One Shares Your Name

Law student leads efforts to help fellow students in recovery.
  • Andrew Swanson, JD ’24, leads the crowds at a past Walk for Recovery.
    Image courtesy of Andrew Swanson.

 

“Five years ago I picked up a needle for the last time,” Andrew Swanson, ’24, wrote in an email to his fellow Lewis & Clark Law students. “Today I sponsor men in recovery programs, I serve on the Other Bar Student Outreach Committee, and try to give back to the recovery community wherever possible.”

One frequently-cited study conducted by the ABA Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs and the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation showed lawyers and others in legal professions experienced high rates of abuse or misuse of alcohol: 21% self-reported as “a problem drinker” and 36% of attorneys self-reported as “struggling with alcohol abuse.” Almost 50% reported their issues with alcohol began in the first 15 years in the profession, and included time in law school.

Motivated by his own journey of recovery, Swanson is taking a step forward to share information about resources available for those in the legal community, students included. Falling outside Bar-affiliated options, these programs and support options focus on helping each individual enter long term recovery from addiction.

After “dry January,” Swanson wants to remind others there is support for continued recovery. “The single most difficult step in my own recovery journey was getting the courage to reach out and ask for help. In the highly competitive law school environment, I think it is really important for students to understand that there are many among us who are walking that same journey. You are not alone.”

The Other Bar Oregon, of which Swanson is a member, is a loosely organized “group of lawyers, judges and law students helping other lawyers, judges and law students deal with addiction and recovery.” he said. Because the only requirement to join the Other Bar—aside from being either a lawyer, judge, or law student—is a desire to stop drinking or using, easily accessing the support is intended to prevent barriers to success.

Swanson is committed to connecting people to the existing resources and intends to remain involved in the recovery community after his graduation from law school. “I’m blessed to be a part of a vibrant community of people who all share a profound experience. Literally every milestone of my life–from getting married to going to law school–is a direct result of the growth I’ve experienced in recovery and the people who have supported me along the way. Recovery remains the single most important aspect of my life and I’m honored to have the opportunity to share it with others. If you feel like you’re losing control of your drinking or using, know that there are people on campus who you can speak to safely, like myself.”

Resources:

On-Campus Weekly 12-Step Meeting

For law students either struggling with addiction or in recovery, there is now a 12 Step meeting on campus every Tuesday from 12:10-1:10p in Room 336 of LRC. This is an anonymous meeting led by students and not affiliated with any organizations.

The Other Bar - https://theotherbaroregon.com

The Other Bar is a peer led organization of lawyers, judges, and law students in recovery from addiction. They have a weekly Zoom meeting on Thursday evenings from 6-7p. Please reach out to Andrew at akswanson@lclark.edu for access to the meeting.

The Oregon Recovery Network - https://oregonrecoverynetwork.org

The Oregon Recovery Network is a statewide resource list that connects people to peer services, mutual aid meetings (e.g. Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous), recovery centers, and treatment and detox facilities.

The Alano Club - https://www.portlandalano.org

The Portland Alano Club is a recovery center located in an historic mansion in Northwest Portland that provides a variety of services for people recovering from addiction including meetings, gym access, and music and art events. All programs at the Alano Club are free.

Oregon Attorney Assistance Program (OAAP) - https://oaap.org  

Note: OAAP is associated with the Oregon State Bar

The OAAP provides counseling and mutual aid services for law students and practicing attorneys who are seeking behavioral health support.