Wealthy, famous, powerful, and addicted

15/08/14 1:52 PM

Why do those of us with so much, get so little from recovery programs?

Most people would assume that those with wealth, fame, or power could afford to do what it takes to stay clean and sober, but that is often not the case. Recovery rates for these groups are significantly lower than for other alcoholics and addicts, and there are a multitude of reasons how these seeming privileges end up hindering sustained sobriety – and happiness.


Given the recent deaths of Philip Seymour Hoffman, Peaches Geldof, and Robin Williams, it’s time for us to come out of the shadows and talk about it.


We are a community of recovering individuals and professionals with backgrounds in family businesses, affluence, and prominence – dedicated to educating, connecting with, and encouraging people living with addiction and significant resources, media visibility and status. If you are a substance abuser, family member, or concerned friend, you have come to the right place.

Our reality: Our resources are killing us

Money and power are an integral part of our addiction, alcoholism, and family dysfunction. The advantages and privileges of wealth or fame support and feed our substance use. When using, these very resources distinguishing us from others are, in fact, part of our disease and, in essence, killing us.


In many ways, we are like other addicts: We do whatever it takes to get our drug of choice; we can’t imagine life without alcohol; we use drugs to cope with our emotions; etc.


But unlike other addicts, we can use our resources, position, and influence to obtain our drug, manipulate the world around us, and – most dangerously – isolate and shield us from our consequences.

Money fuels the fire of addiction

The dangers are in our access to money, our lifestyle, our attitudes, and our family secrets. While these traits are present to some extent in most wealthy people, when addiction strikes, they can become toxic. They allow us to appear normal, while the obsession to drink or use continues to grow unabated. Unless examined and addressed, sustained recovery is almost unobtainable.

Barriers to recovery

In talking among ourselves, we’ve identified seven areas that are common barriers to recovery – barriers that keep us stuck in trying not to use rather moving on to the tranformation of soul and spirit that is the foundation for sobriety.


Being special: Feeling unique, different, and superior.

I’m not like those other lowlife addicts.


Lack of consequences: Using resources that enable us to deny our problem.

What problem? Talk to my lawyer!

Resentment and envy: Envy, perceived or real, hindering our recovery.

“If I had your money, I’d never be an alcoholic.”


Cultural and social rules: Cultural rules encouraging our addictions and preventing us from asking for help.

What shows is what matters; keep it in the family.


Materialism: Putting money and possessions ahead of self-care and recovery.

Doing and having, rather than being.


Myth of the “American Dream”: Expecting money and success to lead to happiness.

What’s wrong with me that my lifestyle and toys don’t make me happy?


Suppressed pain: Submerging the intolerable and denying our experiences.

Hey, it’s not so bad.


Fame: The personal and family impact of being prominent/famous.

Reconciling what is real versus what is imagined.


Above all, if recovery is about moving from isolation to relationships, how can reach our goal if so few people are trustworthy?  


In our next blogs, let’s explore these topics and see how they impact use and recovery.


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