Maricopa County Attorney Allister Adel back to work after rehab

File photo of Maricopa County attorney Allister Adel.
File photo of Maricopa County attorney Allister Adel.(Arizona's Family)
Updated: Sep. 23, 2021 at 11:53 AM MST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) — We are hearing for the first time from Maricopa County Attorney Allister Adel, who’s back at work from taking a leave of absence. She returned to work full-time Monday after a three-week stint in rehab. We had a candid one-on-one conversation about her recovery. She says it was always her intention to share this publicly and she’s glad she did, overwhelmed by all the support and prayers from colleagues and strangers. “There should be no shame associated with this to ask for help when it’s needed,” Adel said.

“It’s not easy to come forward with private struggles that often are just with your family and close friends, but I owed the duty to the community to be transparent,” Adel said.

She says being open about her alcohol abuse, anxiety and eating disorder is forcing her to be accountable to get better. “If this gives somebody, one person even, the strength to come forward, then I’m glad I helped,” she said.

She says she’s been dealing with these issues for years, not months and the last year in lockdown certainly didn’t help, but there wasn’t any specific tipping point that made her finally ask for help. “I have been really looking introspectively for a long time going, ‘OK, my life is veering off track and I’m not OK with this,’” Adel said.

“There wasn’t some, you know, triggering event, or anything like that. I mean, obviously, it was difficult when I had to say goodbye to my children to leave them for treatment, but I was very open and honest with them too because I wanted them to understand that this is a disease and that you know mom seeking help for it,” Adel said.

She took a medical leave for brain surgery after falling in her home a couple days before election night. During that time, decisions her team made in her absence, like bringing criminal gang charges against Phoenix protestors, are now the subject of a federal investigation. “Once I was aware of what had transpired, I made sure we dismissed those cases immediately, “Adel said.

Democratic Maricopa County Supervisor Steve Gallardo told us last week he wishes her well in recovery, but they have a duty and obligation to make sure her office is running well. “When mistakes are made, it costs taxpayers money,” Gallardo said.

Less than one week after her office released a memo asking for patience and grace so Adel could take time off for treatment, the Maricopa County Democratic Party was pushing for her resignation. And the very next day, Adel’s team released another statement, saying she was ready to come back. We asked if that put too much of an unfair weight on her critics to set an arbitrary and unreasonable deadline for her recovery. “You know, people are going to say what they’re going to say. I’m still in recovery. It’s a lifelong commitment, it really is,” Adel said.

She is continuing treatment now, working on an aftercare plan, digging- into work which has been a healthy distraction through recovery. She says, if anything, it’s giving her even more empathy to find more treatment first options for social justice reform.

“It’s unfortunate that whether you’re in a public light or not, that a decision to seek help and better yourself would be criticized. And that’s what a lot of the defendants have to deal with, that shame that’s inflicted upon them. As a public official, I anticipate being scrutinized. But I’m also going to be honest and transparent and human,” she said.