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Alcohol Awareness Month: Federal judge ordered to undergo treatment for alcoholism
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As April is being observed as the Alcohol Awareness Month (AAM) across the country, it has come to light that a federal judge was ordered to get treatment for severe alcoholism post her unusual behavior on the bench that led to her mysterious removal from a string of cases. According to court records released on April 13, 2017, District Judge Patricia Minaldi was diagnosed with alcohol use disorder (AUD) and severe Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome, a degenerative brain disorder that is linked to alcohol abuse.

While the court records do not reveal whether Minaldi’s alcoholism was a factor in the interruptions in her Louisiana courtroom, they show that the 58-year-old judge moved into a facility that specialized in memory care within three months of a criminal case she was presiding over. According to the records, Minaldi arrived at the rehab facility on Jan. 4, 2017.

Minaldi, who has served in the Lake Charles division of the Western District of Louisiana since her nomination in 2003, had been on medical leave since December 2016. The mandate to undergo at least 90 days of substance abuse treatment came from Carl Stewart, Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, based in New Orleans, Louisiana.

The newly released records are part of a lawsuit filed under seal by a longtime friend and colleague, U.S. Magistrate Kathleen Kay. However, post challenge by the Associated Press (AP) and the American Press newspaper in Lake Charles, lawyers for Minaldi and the magistrate released a redacted version of the records, the AP reported.

In February 2014, Minaldi was found guilty of drunken driving and was sentenced to a one-year probation. Two years later in February 2016, following a series of mistakes in the routine trial procedure, the district judge was pulled off a man’s fraud case. In December 2016, a criminal trial was cut short in Minaldi’s courtroom before a jury could be picked to hear a child pornography case. Since then, dozens of other cases assigned to her have been reassigned to other judges.

Vowed to go down fighting

In an interview with KPLC-TV and The American Press of Lake Charles, citing the case where proceedings were halted, District Judge Minaldi said that there had been thousands of cases that she handled where that was never an issue. As per her, anyone can file a lawsuit regardless of its merit and that she does not believe that any of those cases will be challenged meritoriously. She also added that she was not going to downplay the alcohol issue. “There is no disputing that I am in a battle with alcohol. So far, I’m winning that battle, and I intend to win it for the rest of my life,” Minaldi said.

While the judge is weighing her options, she did not rule out return to the bench someday. Minaldi also spoke about the action by U.S. Magistrate Kay who challenged her ability to handle her own affairs. She vowed to “go down fighting” the Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome, a disorder that has no cure. According to Minaldi’s attorney Glen Vamvoras, she is competent and is able to manage her own affairs.

Alcohol abuse riskier in women than thought

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), 60 percent of American women have at least one drink a year and among those who drink, 13 percent consume more than seven drinks per week. As per the guidelines issued by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, women having more than one drink could be at risk of high blood pressure, violence, suicide and motor vehicle crashes, among others.

The NIAAA also reports that an estimated 5.3 million American women drink in a way that is harmful to their health, safety and general well-being. Research shows that as compared to men, women have a different drinking pattern and their bodies react differently to alcohol. As men weigh more than women, the latter have less water in their bodies exposing their brain and other body organs to more alcohol and more of the toxic byproducts released by the body when it breaks down and eliminates alcohol. Women’s bodies do not tolerate alcohol the way men’s bodies do and they are more susceptible to the long-term negative side effects of alcohol.

Studies suggest those who drink excessively are at a greater risk of health hazards. Apart from depression, anxiety and eating disorders, they are vulnerable to heart disease and liver damage, among other ailments.

Alcoholism is a chronic illness but with a cure

Alcohol dependence or alcoholism is a chronic, lifelong disease that can be both progressive and life threatening. While its short-term effect causes a person to feel high, relaxed or sleepy, its long-term effects can change the way brain reacts to alcohol. Women easily fall into the addiction trap due to different circumstances. Although treatment for alcohol abuse depends on its severity, women suffering from a drinking-related problem should seek immediate help at a women’s addiction treatment center.

At Sovereign Health, we understand that plight of a woman who is grappling with alcohol addiction and trying to get rid of the disorder. Treatment for alcoholism in women involves treatment of their physical, mental and behavioral symptoms. At our Chandler facility, treatment for alcohol abuse combines medication, detoxification and counseling. In addition to detox from alcohol, our women’s alcohol rehab program involves psychotherapy along with alternative therapies such as meditation, yoga and neurofeedback.

Sovereign Health’s Chandler facility is a female-only residential rehab center that offers highest quality care for drug and alcohol addiction, mental health disorders and co-occurring conditions. For more information about our treatment programs for women alcohol addiction, call us at our 24/7 helpline number 866-598-5661. You can also chat online with our trained counselors to know about the finest alcohol treatment centers for women near you.

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