Facing and Treating Addiction in a Family Business

Alcoholism and other drug abuse is an epidemic in our country. We are all aware of the general problem nationwide. Yet among family firms, drug addiction and alcohol abuse are frequently overlooked. The secret that everyone knows is that there is a family member who is addicted or engaging in drug or alcohol abuse, yet no one is to talk about it. The family member is protected not only by the family, but also by a general conspiracy among employees. The conspiracy begins because the function of the family is to nurture and protect its members. The family is likely to overlook, condone, deny, rationalize or minimize the problem for the sake of keeping the family system intact.

Should this conspiracy be treated? Yes! By ignoring the problem the addict accepts this as tacit approval of their behavior. And by ignoring the problem, the potential threat to the integrity of the family and business grows. Alcoholism and other addictions leads to the breakdown of the family, just what a family firm wants to avoid.

What can be done?

First, consider that the addict is fortunate to have the backing of both his/her family as well as his/her business. With the support of the two most important systems in one’s life, the addict has increased potential to succeed in treatment.

Second, everyone in the family has to support the decision to confront the addict and to seek family therapy with them. If there are dissenters, the addict will solicit allies to defend their continued drug abuse.

Third, education will help. Professional treatment centers emphasize that alcoholism and drug abuse are best understood as diseases. They must be confronted with their irresponsible and manipulative behavior so that they can change it. With professional treatment and ongoing support, they can be returned to their former productive and loving lives.

For further information on this subject, click on the link to read my article, “Addiction ‘Conspiracy’ of Silence Hurts the Family and Business.”

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