Untangling The complexities of Wealth and Addiction
They maybe high functioning and have continued success, come from well-respected families, have gold standard educations and speak multiple languages. The reality is, 1 in 4 people will experience a behavioural or mental health condition in their lifetime, and extremely affluent people are absolutely not immune to these challenges.
Unfortunately, wealth does not protect or preclude them from behavioural and mental illness. In fact, the opposite occurs; wealth can function as both a potential pressurising factor as well as a surrogate co-dependency which, lengthens the time it takes for someone to accept their issue and seek professional help.
This is why the freedoms that affluence accords also comes with potentially significant challenges. This unique set of problems can complicate and prolong high-risk behaviours. The combination of privilege, risk, and social fears can combine to make accessing treatment potentially difficult.
Tragically, many wealthy people suffer alone, their illness isolating them from family, friends, business and ultimately happiness within their life. Their wealth acts as a shield against any perceived threat to their lifestyle, providing access to refuge in any corner of the globe where they can continue the downward spiral of despair. This can occur intergenerationally, thus exacerbating multiple levels of problems and dysfunctional behaviour that further complicates family communication. Therefore, untreated addiction can become progressively worse over time and consequentially undermine family cohesion, happiness, as well as family wealth.
Locked in the cycle of dysfunction
The maintaining factors for UHNW and addictions create triggers and traps that are likely to increase the risks of instability. The fear of leaving the high life and facing the anticipation of what other people may think can drive compartmentalised and dysfunctional behaviour, even suicide. The ability to use one’s means to buy friends and influence people can create a “yes man” culture. This can cover many domains of one’s life, from socialites needing to manage how sobriety affects their popularity, to a CEO feeling swallowed by stress and the need to use alcohol to try to sleep. The initial decision to step out of the familiarity of the drink and drug culture can feel daunting.
The relationship between high net worth and low self worth
- Ego drives addiction and dangerous behaviour
- Self deception, rationalisation, justification, and denial
- Perceived ability to control people, places, and things
- Fear of incompetence and the wider impact it may have on their standing
- Manipulation and co-dependency
- Sees “the problem” as the result of something or someone else
- The propensity to control their world and all that is in it
Reputation Damage & Family Standing
Families, through lack of knowledge and understanding, may stand back and watch their loved one’s condition get progressively worse instead of risking potential damage to family standing or reputation.
Most ultra affluent people are highly visible, particularly those in the public eye. The psychology of fear and emotional contamination can have a profound impact as it intersects with how these factors link with self-identity, especially within one’s peer or social group. They may fear if it becomes known that a family member is struggling with drug or alcohol addiction the subsequent impact on family wealth and security could be staggering, even effecting future generations.
The highly visible profile and global features that accompany executive leadership frequently include profound personal sacrifice as well as intense social vulnerability to public perception. This personal impact was certainly the case for Lloyds Bank CEO, Antonio Horta Osorio who while turning around the bank’s fortune almost shattered his mental health in the process of rescuing the bank. The uncertainties of change and the difference between losing or winning brings to bear a unique level of super-competitiveness that is akin to the fine-tuned pressure point of a formula-1 racing pit crew. The feeling is with this level of pressure there are zero margins for mistakes, never-mind failure. The reality is, the world is a much more understanding place than the ultra wealthy may perceive it to be. The anticipated stigma associated with behavioural and mental health has lessened, and people may even be applauded for their courage to ask for help.
Very rarely do we see addicted or mentally ill people get well without specialist medical, psychological intervention, and the appropriate specialist care. Unfortunately, left untreated, the illness becomes progressively worse, and the loved one grows increasingly self-destructive. The family can become disconnected, hopeless, and feel powerless in the face of these problems. Ultimately they have run out of options and begin to lose control over their loved one, they fear for the worse… What do they do?
The relationship of stress, pressure, and public image carries with it a powerful triangulated relationship. This relationship can switch from a protective and supportive barrier to a toxic and negative one. Subsequently, the addiction becomes worse; percieved protective barrier can switch to undermine their mental stability, and the same environments can appear in an entirely different way. More specifically, the stress hormones weaken all aspects of physical and mental wellbeing, everything from undermining restorative sleep, interfering with the capacity to ensure proper diet, self care, as well as any number of ways to establish a healthy work life balance becomes largely dysregulated. Treatment offers a path towards better health and provides a pathway to access a better tomorrow through long term sustainable recovery.
Addcounsel is the UK’s first provider of bespoke 1-2-1 care for behavioural health. Operating from London’s Mayfair, we offer a multi disciplinary in pateint healthcare service for those experiencing behavioural health disorders.
Our highly experienced team have been selected to ensure we have a high level of specialist capability. Our expertise covers a range of areas including substance abuse, and process addiction and mental health disorders associated with drugs, alcohol, sex, and gambling. Treating other conditions such as; depression, anxiety, stress, eating disorders and burnout.
We provide a world class services to individuals & families that expect complete discretion and privacy currently unavailable in residential treatment facilities.
To view our recent CQC Inspection report click here: https://addcounsel.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/Addcounsel-CQC-Report-2018.pdf
If you would like further information or to arrange a meeting to understand our engagement process and how we can help your clients access a better tomorrow, please contact Jonathan Edgeley, Relationship Director on 0203 709 3967 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Authors: Jonathan Edgeley & Dr. Richard Sherry, Consultant Chartered Clinical Psychologist