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Individuals Who “Have It All” Need Better Treatment Accessibility

Deb Kuzmin, LCSW – Executive Director of Hanley Center

Sitting upright yet looking defeated, one of the most influential CEOs in this region told me, “I built an entire empire! I took risks, worked endlessly, built relationships, and made folks successful. I can do anything! But for some reason, I cannot stop drinking.”

The same personality traits and ethics that make individuals successful such as working hard, taking risks, desiring success, and being obsessive and dedicated, are also found in individuals with substance use conditions. The pleasure and reward pathways are affected in both highly successful individuals and those with substance use disorders. Individuals and family members with high wealth, who have positions of authority and power or have grown up in a culture of privilege, often have tremendous expectations placed on them. Extremely wealthy business executives or high-profile individuals are under constant public scrutiny, competition, and pressure, which can lead to increased use of alcohol and other drugs and increased isolation and lack of connection to their families and others.

Traditional treatment centers have failed those at the highest end of the socioeconomic continuum.

Addiction treatment centers have historically attempted to place all people struggling with substance use conditions into a “one-size-fits-all” model for groups, meetings, and care plans. They have neglected the unique challenges of this culture’s tendency toward increased suspicion of others’ motives related to their wealth. A general mistrust in outsiders and increased isolation is pervasive in the lives of those with the highest wealth.

The stigma in our society that addiction is a weakness may make asking for help more challenging.

To serve highly successful individuals, facilities need to respect that these individuals are often central to their business’s function and would rarely agree to “take a break” from their work to seek help. They have increased fear of the stigma of seeking out treatment because successful individuals self-identify as being confident and strong.

High-wealth individuals and their families need care that can tune into their needs.

Programs designed to benefit high-wealth communities need to meet individuals where they are. Skilled providers know when to challenge their belief systems and when to leave space for self-reflection. Individualized services paired with the practice of inviting families, colleagues, and friends into the high-wealth individual’s treatment experience rather than limiting their connection to the people who will remain in their lives is critical. People with high profiles and powerful positions need absolute assurance in their right to privacy and confidentiality. Lastly, the need for programs that cater to and support their ability to continue to work while in treatment to learn ways to balance their responsibilities with self-care without the use of alcohol and other drugs is paramount.

The prognosis for lifelong recovery success with this group is significant.

Many highly successful individuals can stop drinking and discover renewed purpose and meaning in their work and their relationships and communities. Since they already possess life skills of determination, innovation, dedication, and incredible resilience, they can learn to apply these same qualities to their growth and evolution into a meaningful, happy, and connected life.


HeadWaters at Origins is a well-known care provider offering a range of treatment programs targeting the recovery from substance use, mental health issues, and beyond. Our primary mission is to provide a clear path to a life of healing and restoration. We offer renowned clinical care for addiction and have the compassion and professional expertise to guide you toward lasting sobriety. For information on our programs, call us today: 561-841-1296.

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If you or someone you love has a substance use or mental health disorder, Origins Behavioral HealthCare can help. We will work alongside you to provide the most comprehensive treatment available.