"Wayne Darwen, the model for Downey's newsman character in 'Natural Born Killers,' told me [Richard Johnson], 'Junior was a lot more interesting when he was a substance-abusing, suffering artist - brave and silly enough to push the envelope.'" - Richard Johnson, New York Post, May 20, 2015. Here is the article.
Name one recovered professional you know, including the many lawyers successfully in 12-step programs, who are still the fascinating people they had been. The reality is: We change. We have to. The mantra in recovery is exactly that - Change or die. And likely the change is in the direction of being content vegetables, at least in terms of our social lives.
For instance, the odds are that we, the recovered, no longer do club crawls. So we don't befriend others who do. That leaves a hole in having access to cool and edgy behaviors. A whole parallel universe happens in that kind of world. Hanging with "normies" can be dulling.
Our work performance may or may not improve. Usually it is the latter, but not always. One wonders how F. Scott Fitzgerald would have done artistically and commercially if he been able to sustain sobriety.
However, lawyers in 12-step programs are often there because it is was the last gas station in the desert. Their performance therefore might have improved because they were then able to show up looking okay for meetings with clients and court dates.
On the other hand, they might get pushed out of the firm after their post-recovery self emerges. It happens all the time. See, they may no longer be capable of pushing the envelope in rainmaking and actually doing the work. Without the burden of guilt about their not-so-secret life of substance abuse they are less driven. Also, they don't have artificial stimulants. With all its sugar, alcohol certainly can be viewed as an unnatural stimulant.
Face it: Getting straight is a risk. No one can predict the social animal and professional who will come out of the other end of that process. Often those recovering folks themselves can't get comfortable with that New Man or New Woman. Relapse is likely.