Article 7. Families, Wealth & Addiction

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1 How We Help Families and Advisors Address Addiction in Affluent Families A New Clinical Approach to Addiction, Treatment and Recovery Based On Highly Successful Recovery Programs For Pilots and Physicians Article 7 Families, Wealth & Addiction William F. Messinger, JD, LADC Terry Hunt, EdD Ginger Washburn, RN, PHN Aureus, Inc. Affluence and Addiction Specialists 325 Cedar Street, Suite 700 St. Paul, MN Phone:

2 Families, Wealth & Addiction No one is immune to the powerful grasp of alcohol and drug addiction. Wealth, success, educational achievement, social rank and celebrity are no protection from this dangerous disease. For families of wealth and prominence, money and status fuel addiction and create a devastating cycle that impacts the wealth and security of families for generations. For advisors and trustees, the active alcoholic or addict presents an enormously frustrating and seemingly impossible challenge. But it can also present a unique opportunity to help clients identify and address destructive addictions and provide valuable support for finding appropriate treatment for lifelong recovery. This article discusses a new clinical approach to addiction, treatment and recovery for the affluent, wealthy and famous. This clinical approach is modeled after highly successful recovery programs for airline pilots and physicians, modified to take into account the treatment needs of the well-off and wellknown. We think you will be excited to learn more about this innovative program, as it brings hope to clients facing addiction related disorders in their families Alcoholism and Drug Addiction: A Frustrating Disease For the advisor, there is perhaps no more vexing or seemingly impossible problem to resolve than dealing with the active alcoholic or addict, particularly those who continue to use despite treatment. More than just a distraction, addiction fosters complex dysfunction that affects decision-making on all levels throughout the family system: from the rampant financial drain of supporting the addict s habit to the exhausting tension and conflict of family interactions to the public relations nightmare of outbursts and arrests. For some families, this dysfunction is ingrained a generational impairment that threatens the very underpinnings of the family wealth and security. Addiction is a chronic disease as baffling and complex as cancer, diabetes or heart disease, and equally as deadly. While addicts initially choose their addictive behavior, research confirms that addiction actually changes brain chemistry and function in fundamental, longlasting ways. Some addicts can even be highfunctioning individuals capable of achieving continued success. However, left untreated, the addict becomes increasingly selfdestructive, with their addiction dominating and directing their behaviors. Common myths about addiction Addicts can quit whenever they want. Most addicts believe in the beginning that they can stop using drugs on their own, and most try to stop without treatment. Rarely do those attempts result in long-term abstinence. Research shows that long-term drug use results in significant changes in brain function that persist long after the individual stops using drugs. These drug-induced changes in brain function have many behavioral consequences, including the compulsion to keep using alcohol or drugs despite adverse consequences. All drug treatment programs are the same. No single treatment is the same for all addicts. The most effective approaches attend to multiple needs of the individual the physical, emotional, psychological and social factors that contribute to the addictive behaviors. Medical management is needed for the critical first stage of withdrawal. Counseling and other behavioral therapies are important components of effective treatment options. As with other chronic, relapsing diseases, recovery from drug addiction is be a long-term process that requires an ongoing continuing care plan. You have to be willing to accept drug treatment for it to be effective. No one typically wants drug treatment. Two of the primary reasons people seek drug treatment are because a court has ordered them to do so, or because loved ones have urged them to seek treatment. Studies show that those most successful in treatment are those with strong external motivators such as loss of money, status, family or work. Despite this physical, psychological and emotional complexity of addiction, it is a treatable disease. Ultimately, through comprehensive, interdisciplinary treatment, an individual can achieve lasting 2

3 abstinence. Reaching that goal typically involves a cycle of treatment successes and relapse a challenging journey for the addict as well as their family and advisors. Wealth and addiction A basic tenet of addiction is that no person drinks or uses drugs in a vacuum. Family, friends, and business associates can easily find themselves drawn into a maelstrom of anxiety and dysfunctional relationships and pain from the addict s behavior. Their sincere efforts to support the alcoholic/addict may be ineffective and in many cases counter productive. This is particularly true in cases of wealth and prominence where one has unlimited access to money and possessions, relies on others to manage personal and business affairs and often has little or no personal accountability. Money provides a cushion to avoid the consequences of drinking and using. Even the typical course of hitting rock bottom is skewed with wealthy individuals because unlimited access to money and Signs and symptoms to look for: Attitude changes and shifts in priorities from chronically showing up late to skipping functions altogether. Frequent requests for money, especially if the person has typically been financially responsible. Lack of control over thoughts, feelings or behaviors including angry outbursts, public intoxication or selfdestructive acts. Serious events such as arrests, dropping out of school, a failing relationship or marriage, work or financial problems. Changes in physical appearance such as sudden weight loss, fatigue, slurred speech, dull or bloodshot eyes, blotchy skin, hyperactivity or a general decline in grooming habits Changes in family and business relationships including others covering for the individual, making excuses, lending money or distancing themselves. resources means that a financial bottom may never be reached, paving the way for even greater selfdestruction. Wealthy addicts typically surrounds themselves with people and support systems that maintain a social environment conducive to their drug and alcohol use. Add to that the inherent pressures of protecting the family s name, a lifetime of being treated differently and the security of always having someone to bail you out, and you have a complex, dysfunctional, inward-facing family model that simultaneously isolates and insulates the addict. The Treatment Cycle While treatment and recovery from addiction is attainable, it is important to understand that success rates vary greatly. This is especially true for those of wealth and prominence, where treatment failures and continued drug and alcohol use are ingrained in the culture. Today, there are a wide variety of treatment options available, including many that claim to cater to the wealthy and prominent. Where privacy and discretion were once a premium with treatment facilities, there is a disturbing trend among those of wealth and prominence to view treatment as a sign of status or a rite of passage. Fueled by Hollywood celebrity publicity machines, there is seemingly unending list of options from quick-fix centers to abstinence-optional to luxury resorts. The challenge is that too often, these options are more focused on catering to the high-end lifestyle than they are to providing the integrated medical and behavioral support for lasting recovery. The false assumption is that any in-patient treatment will fix the problem, with little regard given to the work involved in supporting life-long recovery. As a result, low recovery rates for treatment are common, and subsequent relapse is especially frustrating and unnerving for all involved. This reality is why it is so important to find the right 3

4 treatment center and the right expert advice for the family from counselors with the clinical background and experience in successfully helping wealthy families. The role of the advisor Wealth advisors today play an increasingly important role in assisting families on issues of family governance, asset transfers, philanthropy training and mission. It is the advisor s knowledgeable and effective advice that is crucial to support the goals of healthy family interaction and wealth preservation. The focus on short-term crisis management detracts mightily from the advisor s ability to manage longterm success for their clients. Instead, you have a unique opportunity to address addictions head-on by working with families to exert effective external pressure, identify the proper resources and engaging support for your clients. Here are steps that advisors can take to help families address addiction issues: 1. Consult the experts Just as with financial planning or investment, the savvy advisor consults with experts. When problems with addiction become apparent, the family advisor is best suited to facilitate locating and recommending experts. When identifying experts, look for specific experience and training in dealing with the unique needs of families of wealth and prominence. Ask for licensing information and references from other professionals. 2. Involve the family The challenge for the advisor is to know when to intervene. Many families have become so enmeshed and consumed in the chaos of addictive behavior that over time their coping mechanisms and responses to the addict range from complete estrangement and cutoff to head in the sand denial. While some may seek assistance voluntarily, it is more likely that a specific incident or consequence will elevate the pain and discomfort within the family that forces the question. Once again, getting trained addiction experts involved is crucial. Family interaction in any form of intervention, treatment and post-treatment planning is Things to consider when choosing an addiction treatment program Ask for outcomes data if they do claim to measure their outcomes, facilities should be able to clearly explain the specifics on how they measure their success. Consider their experience in working with families of wealth and prominence Pick a treatment center that places high importance on the therapeutic relationship; this means finding programs with experienced counselors who will spend the time to develop a trusting relationship with their patient, particularly those experienced at working with the unique needs of wealthy and prominent individuals. Ask about post-treatment support and planning; the eighteen-month period after treatment is critical to the success of recovery, and a strong treatment program will have effective continuing care plans to deal with relapses and ongoing support. Don t let the addict choose their treatment; talk to the experts, get an evaluation and identify the options that provide integrated approach to the physical, psychological, social and spiritual needs of the individual. essential to an individual s recovery. Trained addiction specialists can help identify all options available to the family from intervention strategies to treatment to ongoing support. 3. Set motivation for treatment Getting the addict to seek treatment and follow a course to recovery requires strong motivation both internally and externally. External pressure to enter treatment can take on many forms from cutting off access to funds to terminating employment to severing a relationship. Put simply, creating and maintaining leverage through both natural and professionally guided consequences dramatically increases the likelihood that the addict enters treatment and follows through with long-term care plans. As advisor, you can facilitate a partnering between family leaders and licensed addiction professionals who will provide clear perspective and assist in the process. 4

5 4. Create a long-term recovery plan A written and structured post-treatment plan will help promote accountability and communication once treatment has been completed. This plan should include family member roles and responsibilities, as well as specific relapse prevention strategies that identify triggers and situations to avoid. Having the individual sign off on the plan prior to leaving treatment is also helpful in establishing clear expectations and consequences for breaches of the agreement. Your next step Despite the complex and frustrating nature of addiction, there is still hope for addicts and alcoholics. Even those families with generations of addiction, it is possible to achieve sustained recovery and secure the family s finances and preserve their health. Finding the right help for those of wealth and prominence requires persistence, knowledge and professional cooperation with proven, reliable treatment programs. In facilitating the difficult issues of wealth transfer, estate planning, or family business succession, you will find your clients will come closer to achieving their goals if they acknowledge this disease in the family system and bravely, intentionally move together towards recovery. Both as the disease is manifested in active addictions and related disorders and in protective provisions in governing and estate and trust documents. As an advisor, you have a unique opportunity to work with family leaders to proactively address addictions in the family and improve the value of the wealth enhancement and family support services you provide. 5

6 Improving Recovery Rates for Affluent Addicts and Alcoholics TWENTY ARTICLES Introduction A. The Successful Pilot/Physician Programs: Proven Standards for Recovery Outcomes 1. The Pilot/Physician Programs have 85% to 95% Success Rates The Gold Standard Contrasts the high success rates for pilots/physicians with the low (and misleading) outcomes rates promoted by treatment centers. Discusses addiction as a statistically probable disease to be anticipated and planned for by families, as well as different intervention strategies and an overview on improving recovery rates by adopting the pilot /physician model to other groups. B. Encouraging and Inducing Change 2. Use Leverage to Support Long Term Recovery and Improve Outcomes Explains how we modify the pilot/physician program when applying leverage to affluent alcoholics and addicts to improve outcomes. Describes fifteen differences between programs for pilots/physicians and programs for the affluent. 3. Change Strategies For Advisors with Low Leverage or Low Interest Families Advice on change strategies for advisors facing reluctance in client families to address difficult problems. Strategies range from education and risk protection to using the momentum generated by addiction related incidents to promote change. 4. Creating Leverage in Governance Documents to Support Early Intervention and Stable Recovery Discusses a problem solving approach in dealing with family members exhibiting addictive or other dysfunctional behavior. Suggests language to include in family documents, the reasons underlying these suggestions and explains from a stages of recovery perspective why leverage must remain in place for many months. C. Systems Transformation to Improve Outcomes 5. The New Treatment Model: Systems Transformation to Improve Outcomes Discusses why current treatment is ineffective and describes a new model derived from the pilot/physician programs. Reviews family relationships in affluent family systems. Describes 12 Core Concepts to consider in promoting recovery in affluent families. D. Improving Treatment for the Affluent: Substantive Program and Clinical Issues 6. Practical Advice on Achieving High Recovery Rates for Affluent Alcoholics and Addicts, In depth review of the clinical needs of the affluent in treatment and in the context of applying the pilot/physician program model to the affluent. Explains why current treatment is inadequate and describes strategies to improve outcomes. 7. Families, Wealth and Addiction A new clinical approach to addiction, treatment and recovery for affluent families. Discusses barriers to finding and receiving effective treatment (four page overview). E. Advice for Families 8. Flawed Family Assumptions about Addiction and Treatment: Information for Families Misconceptions by parents about treatment impede recovery for their adolescents and young adults. 9. Fifty Seven (57) Things I Wish I Had Told You When First Becoming Aware Your Loved One Has A Problem Written after a friend s child died five months after leaving treatment. This tragedy motivated the author to enroll in addiction studies school and become an advocate for improved treatment outcomes, using the pilot/physician model as a prototype for services to other groups*. 10. Advice for Parents of Adolescents and Young Adults A parent s perspective on the developmental impact of addiction and recovery issues*. F. Individual Blocks to Change: Childhood Experiences and Counseling Inadequacies 11. How Childhood Experiences in Affluent Families Impede Change as Adults Counselors and family members must understand how these experiences negatively influence the addict s ability to benefit from treatment, including lack of trust and inability to connect with peers*. 12. Counselor - Client Relationship and Conditions Promoting Change Identifies blocks to recovery for the affluent in the treatment and counseling setting*. G. For Family Offices, Family Businesses, Trustees, Lawyers, Accountants and Advisors 13. Trustees and Beneficiaries* The Demise of Trustee Discretion and Ascertainable Standards as Effective Controls on Dysfunctional and Underperforming Beneficiaries. Discusses ways beneficiaries access funds despite restrictions on distributions. Suggests language to include in trusts and other governance documents to address addictive behavior in family members (See Article 4, above). 14. Advisors, Trustees, Account Managers and Family Offices Solutions for Dealing with Alcoholism and Drug Addiction in Affluent Families: What Advisors, Account Managers, Trustees and Family Offices Need to Know 15. Financial Managers and Dysfunctional Clients Financial Managers and Dysfunctional Clients: Addiction s Effect on Staff Morale and Fiduciary Responsibilities in the Family and Wealth Management Office 6

7 16. Family Integration Services; the Key to Successful Succession Planning for the Family Business, Foundation and other Enterprises (with Larry Hause)* Families need much than sound legal and financial planning; they also need to make sure their relationships and roles are on a sound footing for the business to survive. 17. Functional Alcoholism Distinguishing Between Safe and Potentially Dependent use of Alcohol and Drugs* Reducing risk to family wealth and well-being by understanding contemporary medical definitions of safe drinking, at risk drinking and prescription medicine use, and definitions of abuse of and dependence on addictive substances. 18. Core Needs in Wealthy Families Part 1: A Developmental and Experiential Model for Advisors and Consultants Part 2: An Alternative Model for Planners and Consultants H. Lawyers and Law Firms 19. Law Firms Achieving High Recovery Rates for Addicted Attorneys, What Every Law Firm and Lawyer Needs to Know (Based on the Highly Successful Recovery Programs for Physicians and Airline Pilots) 20. Bench and Bar Article Lawyer Seeks Treatment, Boss Seeks Assurance by Todd Scott, GPSolo Magazine October/November 2009 * Articles marked with an asterisk are in progress or being revised Author Information Primary Authors William Messinger, JD, LADC Bill started Aureus (formerly Addiction Recovery Professionals) to improve recovery rates for functional alcoholics and addicts. Inspired by highly successful programs for physicians and pilots, Bill developed similar approaches for complex family systems. He writes articles on topics relating to addiction and recovery for families and their advisors. Bill is a member of AFHE, FOX, FFI and CFF. He is a graduate of Yale College, U. of Minnesota Law School and the Hazelden School of Addiction Studies. Contributors Dr. Terry Hunt, Ed.D Terry is a Harvard-educated therapist specializing in family systems and the emotional trauma resulting from addiction and other destructive behaviors. He is co-author of the books Emotional Healing and Secrets to Keep, Secrets to Tell. Terry advises extended families and leads workshops on affluence and addiction. He excels at conflict resolution and facilitation of family meetings. Ginger Washburn, RN, PHN Ginger specializes in managing the effects of addiction within the family, and her empathetic approach is very effective helping clients sort through complicated and longstanding their medications is an invaluable resource for adult children discovering a parent is addicted to alcohol or prescription medicines. Aureus, Inc. Established by William Messinger, Aureus specializes in helping families and their advisors facing alcohol, drug and other addictions in loved ones. We model our program after highly successful programs for pilots and physicians. We provide our clients with comprehensive support, thorough assessment services, selecting and utilizing the right interventions, referral and placement with the treatment providers, and post-treatment care and monitoring. Our clients include family businesses, family business advisors, family offices, and law firms. Office: 325 Cedar Street, Suite 700 St. Paul, MN Phone: Article courtesy of the Family Office Exchange (FOX) which is a definitive source of information and best practices associated with the business of managing family wealth. The strength of the FOX network is derived from the collective knowledge and experience of over 500 FOX members. Mirador is a member of the FOX network of advisors and family offices. 7

Families, Wealth & Addiction

Families, Wealth & Addiction Family Support and Addiction Management for Long-Term Success Families, Wealth & Addiction William F. Messinger, JD, LADC Aureus, Inc. 325 Cedar Street, Suite 700 Saint Paul, MN 55101 Phone: 651.209.7670

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