Prosecutors

Maricopa County Attorney Allister Adel Seeking Treatment for Drinking, Eating Disorder

Allister Adel speaking after she was unanimously approved as Maricopa County Attorney by the Board of Supervisors in 2019.
Allister Adel speaking after she was unanimously approved as Maricopa County Attorney by the Board of Supervisors in 2019. Via YouTube
Maricopa County Allister Adel announced today that she is seeking treatment for alcohol use and an eating disorder stemming from anxiety.

“After a very difficult year for me medically, professionally and personally, I have made the decision to seek treatment for anxiety and to address unhealthy coping behaviors including an eating disorder and alcohol use," Adel said in a statement issued by the Maricopa County Attorney's Office (MCAO). "This is a very difficult announcement because I, like many others, have tried to address these issues on my own. However, I know that if I am to be successful in my recovery, I must be honest and hold myself accountable."

Adel went on to state that she is in daily contact with her leadership team while seeking treatment.

In an email obtained by Phoenix New Times that was sent to MCAO employees today, Adel wrote that the office's work is "hard" and that she is not "immune to its effects."

"Seeking professional help to deal with stress and anxiety is nothing to be ashamed of. Those who are suffering in silence should be able to ask for help," she added in the email. "I encourage those in this office who may be struggling with similar issues to reach out to supervisors or take advantage of the resources afforded to us as county employees."

In an email to Phoenix New Times, Jennifer Liewer, a spokesperson for MCAO, wrote that Adel is "not on leave" and will be "in contact with the office while focusing on her treatment." She declined to comment on the specifics of Adel's "unhealthy coping behaviors" or her treatment.

"Allister is providing guidance and feedback on a regular basis," Liewer wrote. "The business of the office continues."

Last November, Adel was hospitalized due to bleeding in her brain following a bad fall. She didn't return to work until months later in January 2021, according to the Arizona Republic.

The announcement came as a shock to many MCAO employees, according to one prosecutor who declined to be named. The phrasing of Adel's internal memo and the public statement left it unclear to employees who was running the agency — not unlike how employees felt following her hospitalization last November.

"Why are we not being told these things a little sooner as to who is in charge and what we should be expecting?" the prosecutor said. "We’re back to the same position of saying, 'Who is in charge here'?"
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Josh Kelety is a staff writer at Phoenix New Times. Previously, he worked as a reporter for the Inlander and Seattle Weekly.
Contact: Josh Kelety