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Addiction in the Family Business 6 Nov 2017

Addiction in the Family Business

Drug abuse and addiction in any business is messy, complicated and destructive. But nowhere is it more destructive than in a family business. Sometimes your biggest competitor as a family business is your labor-force i.e. your family members. This is especially true if one of your family members happens to struggle with the disease of addiction. The amount of profits you earn, the value you bring to the market and your business longevity depends in large part on how effective and reliable your employees are. This is a troubling reality if your family member is controlled by drug addiction. The problem becomes that much bigger when you consider the stigma attached to addiction and the fear of admitting this to your own family, especially when they are your boss.

Many people aren’t aware of the prevalence of addiction within family businesses. According to researchers at the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, three in ten drink at levels that put them at risk for liver disease and other health and emotional problems. It’s important to understand how widespread and common drug and alcohol abuse and addiction is in society, and it is important to understand antecedent factors and the consequences for family businesses.

Prevalence of Addiction

It would be impossible to discuss the impact addiction has on family businesses without briefly covering the impact addiction has on society in general. In the United States of America, addiction has become extremely prevalent; the cost of excessive alcohol consumption alone is in the billions, $223.5 billion to be exact according to a 2011 Centers for Disease Control study. This $223.5 billion cost breaks down as follows; 72% in lost workplace productivity, 11% for healthcare payouts due to alcohol-related illness and injury, 9% for law enforcement and criminal justice related expenses, and 6% for alcohol-related motor vehicle accidents. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health numbers aren’t much more encouraging. In the month prior to the survey, 58 million Americans aged 12 years and older, (approximately 23% of the population) participated in binge drinking and 23 million Americans aged 12 and older used illicit drugs.

I don’t mean to bore anyone with numbers but these statistics paint a grim picture. It is hard to imagine that any business could possibly escape the affect drug and alcohol addiction has had on our society. But because we are referring to family businesses, in particular, the impact of drug and alcohol addiction presents some challenges and hurdles that are unique to the family business. One such challenge is succession; how to maintain the same level of commitment as that of the founding generations.

business man doing cocaine

It is painfully ironic to note that one reason family businesses struggle down the line is experiencing enormous success very quickly. As new generations enter into the family business without having to struggle to achieve success as their earlier generations did, they become complacent. It’s also worth noting that because the newer generation of family members in the successful business grew up in a higher socioeconomic status, they are far more likely to become entangled in a lifestyle of drug and alcohol addiction statistically. Reasons for this may be isolation from parents because they are always busy with the business, and increased pressure due to higher expectations in a wealthy and successful family. As the newer generation succumbs to these addiction issues and rises to the management level within the family business, this is where quality begins to decrease dramatically.

The Elephant in the Room

When it comes to the effectiveness of a family business addiction is a very significant factor. When drug and alcohol addiction exists within the executive decision makers of the family business, it is often the very reason why the firm ultimately fails. Another issue that is highly unique to the family business plagued by addiction is a plethora of communication issues. Often times the addicted family member becomes the “elephant in the room” that no one wants to mention despite severe consequences. If the addicted family member is the matriarch or patriarch of the family, employees that are also members of the family may feel as though they cannot confront the addicted person. They may fear reprisal or just simply be too uncomfortable to confront their own mother or father about their addiction. Who really wants to have to sit their mom or dad down for a chat about their excessive drug use?

Another issue with attempting to intervene on a drug or alcohol addicted family member with whom you’re in business with is a lack of meaningful consequences. If the addicted person owns a large and successful company with many employees, it may be difficult to confront them. They may not be used to someone telling them what to do, and they may not react well to any guidelines or ultimatums you set. This can be just as true of mothers and fathers attempting to intervene on their son or daughters drug or alcohol addiction. If their dream or goal in life was always to pass the business down to their own children, they may feel inclined to ignore and deny the obvious addiction instead of facing it head-on.

Regardless of the specific issue in question, it is clear that being part of a family business plagued by addiction is complicated and messy. This situation comes with many unique and challenging issues. Fortunately, there is always a way out. There are more qualified facilities now than there ever were, and there is always someone available to help. Coming together as a family and facing the addicted family member(s) head-on is the only way to prompt real change.

Freedom From Addiction

If you or a loved one is suffering from alcoholism or addiction, understand that you are not alone in your struggles! If you are ready to change your life and finally be free of your addiction, then Holistic Recovery Centers can help. We can give you the jump start you need in order to experience the recovery you have always wanted. Our holistic programs are unique in that they don’t just treat the addiction, but rather they treat the whole person, so if you are interested in finding out more information, please do not hesitate to give us a call today at 1-877-723-7117.