When Addiction Becomes Partner In The Family Business

By O'Connor Professional Group

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A business is only as good as its employees. Employee morale is affected when one member of a team is struggling with addiction. In a family dynamic, the effects of addiction are tenfold. Addiction is often called a family disease because every member of a family takes on a role in order to adapt to the presence of addiction. When a family runs a business, those family roles translate into the workplace, often for the worse. Coping with an elephant in the room, or fighting openly about a loved one’s addiction wears down on everyone’s nerves, takes away from focusing on the family business, and ultimately hurts success, including profits.

Everything about a business depends on the reliability and performance of employees. If just one member of a team is struggling with addiction, the entire team suffers. Turning a blind eye is easier in a workplace where people are like family. Family businesses cannot escape blood relation and a deep commitment to one another. Admitting the presence of addiction, facing it head on, and making a plan for treatment is hard to do when there are histories of family involved. Stigma, shame, and stereotype regarding addiction in addition to tense relationships, dramatic histories, and other dysfunctional family dynamics, puts a significant strain on business.

Communication is key in any healthy, functioning business. The weight of an addiction in a family business system inevitably leads to unhealthy, dysfunctional communication within the family, within the business, and sometimes even to clients, customers, patients, and more. Without healthy communication, addiction becomes the controlling partner in a family business, hurting everyone involved.

The facts and numbers on addiction in the workplace:

  • A 2011 Centers for Disease Control study found that the annual cost of addiction and alcoholism in America is $223.5 billion. The largest portion of that annual cost is in the loss of workplace productivity at 72 percent.
  • ReGENERATION Partners conducted a 20-year long study on addiction in family workplaces. More than 50 percent of family run businesses who seek consultation are dealing with an addiction issue, most often in management.
  • Addiction in the family business can have an effect in other ways, like when a family business is extremely successful. Our team at O’Connor Professional Group found that 20% of affluent youth meet the criterion for a substance abuse issue.

    Let the O’Connor Professional Group take the guesswork out of putting a treatment plan together. Our combined personal and professional experience empowers us to empower you with a private consultation and customized plan of action for getting the help you need. Call us today for information: 617 910-3940

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