Processing Your Payment

Please do not leave this page until complete. This can take a few moments.

November 23, 2009 LOCAL INSIGHT

Discreetly Helping Professionals Stay Sober

When alcohol and drugs crash down on an executive’s life at work and home, there are 28-day detox programs, Alcoholics Anonymous counseling programs, and treatment professionals.

But staying clean and sober isn’t so easy outside the safe walls of a treatment facility or away from an AA meeting, which is why relapse rates are so high.

In 2006, Hartford attorney Mary Alice Moore Leonhardt founded RecoverWell, a business that provides private, confidential assistance for individuals in recovery because she says the extra attention following treatment helps to achieve ongoing sobriety.

“I found myself helping a lot of impaired people from the corporate community, and I felt I was doing much more than lawyering,” Moore Leonhardt said. In particular, she found that executives with workplace and family issues often needed some recovery support tailored to their needs.

As she evolved a network of addiction specialists — psychiatrists, psychologists, drug and alcohol counselors, and nutrition consultants — an increasing number of referrals came her way. Studies show that about half of those suffering from alcoholism or substance abuse also suffer from anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, or other mental illnesses.

As Moore Leonhardt conducted research on various addiction treatment models, she confirmed her belief that there is a support gap following a patient’s release from most in-patient and out-patient treatment programs. RecoverWell was founded to bridge that gap, she said.

“There are few organizations that offer this type of private and discreet holistic recovery support: personal recovery coaching and monitoring, coupled with referrals to a network of resources for assistance with health care, legal problems, housing issues, and other lifestyle challenges. RecoverWell’s clients are connected with vetted addiction professionals and providers who can help direct the person struggling with alcohol or drug issues to adopt the critical lifestyle changes and habits necessary to support long-term sobriety and fulfilling lives,” said Moore Leonhardt.

“Our recovery coach model is similar to that utilized by the volunteer coaches working through Phil Valentine’s nonprofit CCAR (Connecticut Community for Addiction and Recovery). In fact, we are partnering with CCAR for training and encourage all of our coaches to get certified through the CCAR program. This positions us with highly qualified personal sober coaches to provide the most successful and effective private and discreet support services to our clients,” she said.

RecoverWell develops an individualized support plan for clients and matches them to a recovery coach. The recovery coach monitors the client’s progress and advises him or her on adopting lifestyle changes that will help prevent a relapse.

Moore Leonhardt isn’t a stranger to addiction. A recovering alcoholic, more than 22 years ago, her life as a young attorney came to a screeching halt when she was fired from her job at a Connecticut law firm because of relapse. It was a turning point in her life.

Sober ever since, she counts herself lucky. Family and friends rallied behind her as she sought treatment and began a lifelong road of recovery. She also caught a break professionally when a senior attorney from a New Haven firm hired her, giving her career a second chance.

She now heads her own firm on Russ Street in Hartford and has an office in Stamford. While her law firm handles all types of cases, the firm’s work often focuses on helping individuals whose alcohol and substance abuse has created legal problems for them, particularly at work. In those cases, the firm mediates a recovery plan with an employer or the state, which includes ongoing monitoring and drug/alcohol screening and treatment to ensure sobriety, which becomes a condition of employment or licensure reinstatement for legal and health care professionals.

Moore Leonhardt maintains that RecoverWell is not intended to replace AA or NA, but it is for individuals where the 12-step program is not enough or doesn’t resonate. With RecoverWell’s business model developed, Moore Leonhardt has updated her Web site, and is about to launch a marketing program. “A lot of people are reluctant to be public about alcohol and drug abuse,’’ she said. “RecoverWell offers a haven for discreet and private recovery coaching where they can feel comfortable.”



Diane Weaver Dunne is the Hartford Business Journal managing editor.

Sign up for Enews


Order a PDF