What I do when there’s nothing on my calendar…

October 30, 2017
Good afternoon, everyone. This is the first video that I’ve shot in my office. I’m sitting at my desk. This is where I do my thing. This is where I come every day to get work done and meet with clients. I come in here to get things done. Today, I didn’t have any appointments set. I’m one of those people who, if there’s not enough going on, I get frustrated. I don’t know if I get depressed, but I think I get bored.   I need the stimulation. I need to be in the fight. I need to be helping people. I spend a lot of time listening to personal growth and self-help audio books. One of the people that I’ve been listening to a lot lately is Grant Cardone. Grant is based in Miami. He’s a self-made guy. He puts out a lot of amazing content. He’s in recovery. Between the ages of 15 and 25, he was using drugs and alcohol as a way to drown out the pain of losing his father at an early age. He’s been a significant source of inspiration for me.   Normally, when I’m in the gym in the morning, I listening to something that he’s put out. He puts a lot of content out on YouTube. He also has some really great audio books. As someone who doesn’t have time to sit down and read, I listen to a lot of audio books. While I’m tuning up my body, I’m also working to tune up my mind. It gets my mind set straight to come into work, into this office, get things done and try to help as many people as I possibly can.   Today I came in and didn’t have any appointments booked. One of the things that Grant Cardone talks about is touching base with some of your old clients. That serves two purposes. First, your former clients can be a great source of business. You reach out to a former client and it turns out that they need your help or a referral to someone who can help them. You can help former clients. Second, it lets people know that you’re still thinking about them and you still care about them.   Sometimes as lawyers, we lose sight of the forest for the trees. We’re so busy doing our thing. We’re focused on the next file in front us. We forget the other people we may have helped in the past. I reached out to a couple of clients today, one of whom had come to me for counsel about a potential Marchman Act. He was also working on potentially getting divorced. It turned out that he was able to get his then-spouse into treatment. She’s now in treatment. He’s taking care of the kids. He’s under enormous pressure and strain. He said to me, “I need help. I need someone to talk to. I feel like I’m starting to lose my mind.” I was able

My Latest Guest Appearance on the Addiction 911 Show

October 27, 2017
On October 19th, I was honored to be invited to be a guest on the Addiction 911 Show with Christina Rowe. The topic was How To Help Your Addicted Loved One.

Why I spend so much time and effort talking about the Marchman Act

October 23, 2017
Good morning, everyone. I just got done with a workout. I have my IU baseball cap on that I bought this weekend after spending a couple of days with a good friend in Indiana. I came back with a cold. This week was tough. Every day, I get up and try to spread the word about what I do. I encourage you to do the same.   One of the questions that I’m asked about is why I spend so much time and effort talking about the Marchman Act. We live in a world where we go about our own business. When we see an opportunity to make a difference, we turn a blind eye. I don’t know why that is. I don’t think it’s because people are bad. We’ve become a society where we’ve forgotten that we are our brother and sister’s keeper.   I still maintain that we are our brother and sister’s keeper. After 23 years of working predominantly in the criminal justice system, I’ve come to the conclusion that someone who is an addict or with a mental health issue can only go to one of three places. They are the morgue, prison or treatment. That’s it. There’s no other place that these people can go. The other thing that I know for sure is that addiction and mental health only get worse with time. They don’t get better. As time goes on, the likelihood of the first option of the morgue and the second option of prison become increasingly more likely. I haven’t yet figured out how to deal with option one. I routinely have to deal with option two.   I’m passionate about the Marchman Act because I believe that it is a way to make sure that option three happens so that one and two don’t happen. If you know someone who is in crisis or a family dealing with this, be their brother’s keeper. Say something to them. Let them know that there is a way to get someone into treatment. It doesn’t matter if you refer them to me. I would appreciate if you did. Say something to them. You can help someone.   The other question I am asked often is if I do pro bono work. Yes, but it’s limited. I’m a solo small firm. I’m building my business one family, one client and one young person at a time. As my business grows, I can help more people. As I help more people, my business will grow. Then I can do more pro bono. One of the reasons that I like to share my thoughts with you is because I want to help more people. Then I can grow my business, help more people and do more pro bono work.   It’s clear that there’s some inequity in our system. Not everyone has access to treatment. Not everyone has access to private counsel. I think that’s a terrible shame. As members of the bar, I think it’s incumbent

Keep Moving Forward

October 17, 2017
Hi, everyone. I am coming to you today from Memorial Stadium, which is the football stadium for Indiana University. I decided to take a weekend off. My dad told me many years ago that, the older we get, the faster the time goes. He was absolutely right.   It’s almost 30 years since I was last at Memorial Stadium. I came with my close friend, Phil Slotnick, who is a personal injury lawyer in Tampa. We came here to visit his cousin Kenny about 30 years ago. Michigan was playing Indiana, and here we are today, visiting his son who is a freshman at Indiana University. I’m watching my Wolverines play Indiana. The people in Indiana are unbelievably friendly. They have been welcoming.   We’re sitting with a bunch of IU fans. They are unbelievable people in the Midwest. I really appreciate being here. The weather is phenomenal. I bought myself an Indiana hat. I’m wearing my Michigan t-shirt. This is the t-shirt I bought in college. I only wear it during games. It’s pretty old, but I bring it out when it’s game time. I’ve really appreciated all the feedback I’ve been getting on my videos. It has motivated me to share a lot more of the personal side of my practice, which is helping families and individuals who are in crisis because of addiction and mental health.   When you give of yourself, as myself and my colleagues do in our practices, it’s tiring. Yesterday before I got on the plane, I felt like I was getting a cold. I said to myself, “Do I need to do this? Do I need to spend a weekend away with a friend?” I’m glad that I did. On the way here to the game, I got a call from whose child is in Florida and having issues. While I was sitting at the game, I got another call about a family that is in crisis. When you start to get those calls, you realize how important it is the work that we do. I don’t think it just applies to me and what I do. It applies to anyone who is building a business, trying to help people. I know lots of people who are doing that.   When you’re feeling tired, down and like you’ve had the energy sucked out of you, keep moving forward. It’s not always easy to do. On the days where I don’t feel like working as hard as I usually do, or when I go to the gym and don’t feel like being as intense as I normally am, I try to put one foot in front of the other. Maybe I don’t move as quick, but I keep moving forward. That’s the important thing. Keep moving forward.   I have flashbacks to the famous scene in Rocky when he is standing on the side of the street, giving his son a lecture about life. I think it was Rocky IV. The son was

Punishment, Rehabilitation or Both

October 11, 2017
Good morning, everyone. I am coming to you this morning from the Federal Correctional Institute in Miami. This is the federal prison. I was here visiting with a client and a friend. I spend a fair amount of time visiting clients in jail. Typically, I’m in Palm Beach County dealing with individuals who are charged with violations of state crime. This is a federal penitentiary. This is a whole different ballgame down here.   I wanted to share this with you because we seem to have the mindset that we want to punish everyone. I don’t want you to think that I think people shouldn’t be going to prison for specific crimes. You get violent people, people who are committing murders, rapists and people who are abusing kids. Those people have to go to prison. We should lock them up for as long as we possibly can.   There are other people who are committing crimes because they have substance abuse and mental health issues. If you’ve spent as much time in the system as I have, you realize that it’s the bulk of individuals. When I was a prosecutor, especially when I was fresh out of law school, I said to myself, “Everyone that’s here is bad. We must lock everyone up.” If you read the mandate of the legislature in Florida, our mandate here in Florida and in most states is to punish people.   There’s no mandate for rehabilitation. We just want to punish people. Some people need to be punished and locked away. The vast majority of people who are incarcerated shouldn’t be there. We are locking up more people here in America than the rest of the world combined. We’ve turned incarcerating people into a business. Instead of rehabilitating people, we’re locking them up and spending tax payer dollars to keep them locked up. When they get out, we wonder why their addiction issue has not been fixed.   Coming to visit a client, even as their lawyer, is exhausting. It’s emotionally draining. Prosecutors may be carrying 200 or 300 files at any one time. We don’t have any contact with the defendant. It’s just a file. I don’t mean that prosecutors don’t care, that we’re not there to do justice or that we’re doing something that’s inappropriate. We don’t have that level of personal involvement in a case. When you are doing defense work, you get to know the client. That’s a person. It’s someone’s husband. It’s someone’s father. It’s someone’s wife. It’s someone’s son. When I spend a couple of hours visiting with a client that I’ve known for a long time, it’s exhausting. It’s emotionally draining.   I’m going to spend the rest of the day with family. That tends to make me realize that all the things we do to try and make life better for other people is really worth it. I was up at 6:00 on a Sunday morning so I could get here in time to visit with

The Financial Side of Substance Abuse and Mental Health Issues for Families

September 29, 2017
Hi, everyone. I’m taking a break to share some thoughts with you. Myself and Audra Simovitch, who is part of my team at Drug & Alcohol Attorneys, are attending a small meeting at NAMI. NAMI is the National Association of Mental Illness. We come down here once a month to hear different professionals speak about things that have to do with mental illness and substance abuse. That is very much a part of what we do at Drug & Alcohol Attorneys. We were blessed this evening to hear a presentation by a financial planner named Allen Giese. I would be happy to put anyone in touch with him who may want his information. Several years ago, he discovered that one of his children was suffering from mental illness. That set him on a course to discover the best way for families to plan for the cost of taking care of a child who is dealing with mental illness. One of the conversations that we have regularly with families is the cost of taking care of a child who is dealing with substance abuse. No family has that Marchman Act or criminal defense savings account sitting there, because they’ve planned for their child to end up in the criminal justice system as a result of substance abuse and a mental health disorder. They don’t have an account set aside so that they can hire a lawyer and pay for the expense of dealing with substance abuse and mental health issues. Allen now counsels families on how to plan for the future of taking care of a child. He has really great information. It’s something that we hadn’t really considered before. It was a blessing to have the opportunity to hear someone like this speak. If you know someone or you’re a family that is struggling with the cost of taking care of a child like this and you would like more information, I will be happy to share it with you. Send me an email at mark@drugandalcoholattorneys.com.

The Mental Health and Substance Abuse Connection

September 26, 2017
An individual who’s in crisis because of a substance abuse disorder, is more often than not, also suffering from a co-occurring mental health disorder.  In many cases, when a child or young adult has been prescribed medication for ADHD, anxiety or depression, the slippery slope of addiction and substance abuse rears its ugly head soon thereafter.   “Studies have shown a strong connection between ADHD, alcoholism and drug abuse.  Moreover, ADHD is five to ten times more common among adult alcoholics than it is in people without ADHD. It is also more common for children with ADHD to start abusing alcohol during their teenage years.” says attorney, Mark Astor, founder of Drug And Alcohol Attorneys. While every person is different, the common thread with many substance abusers is the diagnosis of a mental heath disorder at a young age accompanied by the prescribing of medication, which frequently makes matters worse.  There are a limited number of treatment centers that can appropriately diagnose and treat a dual diagnosis client. To observe such a client become stable and in recovery is the difference between Mr. Hyde and Dr. Jekyll.  There are professionals who are ready, willing and able to assist with these issues. The team at Drug and Alcohol Attorneys can help you and your loved ones get back on track.  They do not charge for a consultation or for access to their resources. So, if your family is in crisis, you are encouraged to reach out for help.   

A Good Question To Ponder…

September 22, 2017
Good afternoon, everyone. For my fellow members of the tribe, Shanah Tovah, a Happy New Year. I hope this will be a happy, healthy and prosperous year for all of us, even those who don’t celebrate. I wanted to take the opportunity to share with you a question that was asked of me a couple of nights ago when I was at an event with the South Palm Beach County Bar Association and the Florida Association of Women Lawyers. It was asked by a good friend of mine who I see frequently at networking events. To be honest, it struck a chord with me. He asked what percentage of our clients that we send into treatment are successful in staying clean. I don’t keep statistics of successes and cases where we don’t get such a successful outcome. It gave me food for thought. I wanted to give you the perspective of a lawyer who deals with this on a daily basis. Here’s what I see. We have a lot of great treatment centers here in South Florida. Sometimes we have to make our clients go using the Marchman Act. The clients that go, whether involuntarily or voluntarily, for the most part, when they go through treatment for 30, 60 or 90 days, when they come out the other end, they’re clean. I believe that there’s a big difference between being clean and being in recovery. Someone who goes through treatment is more than likely going to come out clean, especially if they’ve gone to one of the treatment centers that I’m comfortable sending clients and family members to. If you want to get a really successful outcome, it’s not about being clean. It’s about getting the client or loved one into recovery. Recovery means being clean on a daily basis. It’s someone who is no longer using drugs or alcohol and is staying away from using the types of drugs that we see on a daily basis. For that to happen, it requires a lifestyle change. You don’t just go through treatment, and then you’re done. The clients who get the best results are the ones who get into recovery after going through treatment, and then work at it every single day. Perhaps they go to outpatient. Perhaps they go to AA. Perhaps they get a sponsor. Perhaps they do all of those things. From what I see, I believe that going into recovery and staying in recovery is a daily challenge and fight that people who are dealing with this disease have to overcome. I told my friend, “It’s not a matter of going to treatment for 30, 60 or 90 days and then going back to your old lifestyle.” It doesn’t work that way. It’s a lifestyle change. It’s something that you have to work at on a daily basis. If I said to you, “I want you to run a marathon in three months,” and you worked out, trained every day for three months, ran the marathon,

Iron Sharpens Iron: Spend Time With People Who Help, Not Enable

September 21, 2017
Good evening, everyone. It’s about 9:45. I had one of those crazy, busy days. I realized when I’d gotten home that I’d forgotten to stop at Publix and get something that I really needed. I’m about to run back out to the store.   It was a great day. I had an opportunity this evening with the South Palm Beach County Bar and the Florida Association of Women Lawyers to spend time with some really great lawyers.   A mentor once taught me that iron sharpens iron. You are the average of the five or six people that you spend a lot of time with. When you get to spend an evening with great lawyers and other professionals, people who are working really hard to build their businesses, to provide a better life for their families and to help a lot of people, it’s very inspiring. I feel blessed to be able to spend some time with professionals like that.   During most days, I’m dealing with families who are in crisis. One of the hardest things when you’re dealing with someone who is dealing with the disease of addiction is trying to get across to them how important it is for them not to spend time with other people who are doing drugs, drinking and having their life go in the wrong direction.   One of the conversations that I have with families is how important it is to get their loved ones away from people who are a bad influence on them. At the end of the day, iron sharpens iron. Whether you are a lawyer, another type of professional or someone who is trying to deal with addiction, it’s important to spend time with people who want to see your life go in the right direction, and who will encourage you to move your life in the right direction. That’s my thought for the day. Thank you.

Krav Maga: My Peace…

September 20, 2017
This is what we do, learning real techniques for real street encounters. This is my place of peace. I try to come here three times a week when I can, but when you run a practice like I do and we’re dealing with people in crisis, it’s not always possible. Have a good rest of the day.