PORTLAND, Maine — Christopher Poulos, whose struggles with addiction caused him to drop out of the University of Southern Maine and serve a stint in federal prison, has taken a job with an organization committed to helping college students deal with substance abuse problems.
Poulos, 33, of Yarmouth graduated in May from the University of Maine School of Law. He will work as the executive director for Life of Purpose from the organization’s location at the University of North Texas in Denton.
“I am thrilled to be joining the Life of Purpose Treatment team because I have found that education is an antidote to helplessness and finding purpose and direction strongly promotes successful recovery,” he said last week in a news release announcing the appointment.
Poulos was convicted of selling $7,780 worth of cocaine to a confidential informant in March 2007. He served 2½ years in prison and returned to college after his release in January 2011. While in law school, he was an intern at the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.
“What makes Life of Purpose so different is the academically focused aspect of our program,” information posted on the organization’s website said. “Whereas the standard model of 30-day residential program tends to focus on having clients minimize their life, do things that are humbling and easy, and not stress themselves out, we encourage our clients to push the boundaries on what they think they can achieve. Young adults are a special population requiring focused motivation and tangible results in order to restore their confidence and feelings of self-worth in order to achieve long lasting sobriety.”
The first Life of Purpose residential treatment facility opened in 2013 on the campus of Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton. Poulos will oversee the implementation of a similar facility in Denton so students may receive treatment and remain in school.
“ The idea is that through education people will find a path or passion in recovery and be moving toward something rather than just away from alcohol and drugs,” he said.
Poulos, who is to begin working Aug. 22 in Texas, said Monday that he will put his legal career on hold for the time being.
“I still intend to practice law, but what we are developing can help change policies at a broad level and directly impact thousands of lives, whereas when I’m representing individual clients, the systematic issues remain,” he said. “I love working with individual clients and being in court, so I plan to take some cases, when possible.”
Poulos will have to pass the Texas bar exam before he can represent clients in that state. He took the Maine bar exam last month but does not yet know whether he passed.
“I would like eventually to return to Maine to practice, but that may not be for a while,” he said.