Former lawyer helps others as addiction recovery coach
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — At age 43, Brian McManus was living the dream. McManus had a wife, two children, a home in Fairfield and a successful New Haven law practice.
But he couldn’t escape alcohol and drug abuse and by 2010 had stolen over $1 million from clients. As the FBI investigated, McManus found himself in a treatment bed in Bridgeport Hospital.
Today, he’s back in the hospital as an addiction recovery coach.
“I see that person lying in a (hospital) bed and I tell them, ‘that used to be me,‘” McManus said. “My life was a complete shambles. I am an alcoholic and when I took to drink I became what I refer to as ‘a human garbage can.’”
McManus is a full-time recovery coach for Connecticut Community for Addiction Recovery. Coaches receive calls from emergency room employees about overdoses, heavy drinking, or any crisis involving substance abuse. MidState Medical Center in Meriden is one of the hospitals where he works.
McManus is effective in helping addicts, staff members said, because his experience reflects achievement, despair and recovery.
“I definitely knew I had an interesting story,” he said. “And I could use that story.”
After 17 years of practicing law, McManus knew he could no longer hide the more than $1 million he stole from clients during real estate transactions.
After one particularly nasty bender in 2010, he ended up in the emergency room at Bridgeport Hospital. He received seven days of treatment, and the social workers referred him to Alcoholics Anonymous. He attended meetings every day, sometimes multiple times a day. He was sober when he stood before U.S. District Judge Ellen Bree Burns in October 2011 for sentencing.
McManus was convicted of misappropriating mortgage funds and served 15 months of a 21 month sentence followed by three months in a half-way house and a year of supervised release, according to the U.S. Justice Department.
His oldest daughter was in middle school when McManus went to prison, where he found a lot of time to think.
“I remember very vividly those feelings,” he said. “Not knowing if I would have a future, not knowing if I would have a career.”
Recovery coaches are now in 10 hospitals statewide. Connecticut Community for Addiction Recovery receives funding from the state Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, but hopes more hospitals will add recovery coaches to their budgets.
Patients are asked if they would like to speak to a recovery coach after clinical treatment is over, said Rebecca Allen, CCAR’s director of recovery support services. They are offered detox, recovery treatment and introduction to community resources at a CCAR center or at Rushford Center in Meriden.
Allen has been drug free for more than 19 years. She lived in Willimantic and after a few short stints in rehabilitation treatment, returned for a year long program. She eventually went on to receive her master’s degree in public health from UConn in 2015.
Allen and Jay Osborne, CCAR’s emergency department recovery coach manager, said coaches get more people into treatment and connected to community resources sooner. McManus has about 30 clients he checks in with regularly. CCAR recently hired four more coaches.
Osborne is not a recovering addict, but has witnessed addiction in his family. He shares that with his clients and their families. When and if they relapse, he picks up the ball and removes barriers.
“I’m a family member and an ally to the (recovery) community,” Osborne said. “You have to empower them to drive their own bus.”
Information from: Record-Journal, http://www.record-journal.com