Learn / Elite Recovery: How Social Status Affects Substance Use Disorders
Substance use disorders can affect people from all walks of life. And despite certain cultural stereotypes, elite clients may be especially vulnerable. Because people with high status face a specific set of stressors, they also have unique needs during recovery. If you’re a person who faces these unique challenges, it may be helpful to seek out a rehab that caters to luxury clientele.
These programs are specifically designed to provide support for people who are accustomed to a certain standard of living. What’s more, the staff at these facilities are highly qualified to help people of your demographic. By working with people who can intuitively understand your personal history, your current experience, and your goals for the future, you may have a much easier time approaching recovery.
Luxury rehabs are there to help you live your best life. In this type of treatment, you won’t be asked to give up the amenities you rely on, and you won’t be pressured to make changes that might jeopardize your future. Instead, your team will help you learn to navigate ongoing stress and triggers, without giving up the most meaningful parts of your life.
Every person has their own experience of stress. Elite social status doesn’t protect you from this. It may actually increase your stress levels, and as a result, make you more vulnerable to certain mental health conditions.
One expert writes, “Stress is a well-known risk factor in the development of addiction1 and in addiction relapse vulnerability.” Even the most affluent lifestyles may come with unique difficulties. As you consider attending rehab, you might benefit from reflecting on which areas of your life are the most challenging, in spite of their potential rewards.
People with high social status also tend to have high visibility. Whether your position comes from your family, your career, or any other source, it can feel as though you’re being scrutinized by the public. Your actions may reflect on the people around you, including your loved ones, colleagues, and employees. If you have celebrity status, your behavior may even have a direct impact on the lives of your fanbase.
When your behavior has such far-reaching consequences, it’s natural to feel pressure to perform. And because of the stigma surrounding substance use disorders2, well-known figures may delay admitting that they need help. However, new research suggests that the public acknowledgement of mental health conditions can “serve as a powerful method of communication to increase awareness of mental health3 and normalize psychiatric illnesses.
Some elite clients have a great deal of responsibility. This is often true of high level executives, who may be responsible for the success of their colleagues, shareholders, and employees. Others may have responsibilities to their family, or even to the public.
When people are depending on you, you may be concerned about letting them down. And if you have a substance use disorder, you may struggle with associated guilt and shame about your condition. But you’re only human. If you had a physical illness, seeking treatment would be seen as reasonable and responsible. Although it may not feel this way, the same is true of mental health diagnoses. Asking for help is not a failure.
Although it can bring people great security and pleasure, material success does not protect your mental health4. In fact, your annual income may be directly related to your experience of stress. In a 2018 study, “researchers found that people who earn between $51,000 and $75,000 generally feel the least stressed. By contrast, of those who make an income of $200,000 or more, nearly 70 percent said they feel stressed.”
And stress is just one component of mental health. Additionally, affluent people “are at a higher risk for depression5.” For some clients—but certainly not all—this can be related to your attitude about your finances.
Managing wealth requires a great deal of emotional energy. And when you’re responsible for protecting yourself, your family, or your legacy, that may be unavoidable. However, it’s important to remember that your finances are just one aspect of your life. You are more than your external circumstances. It’s easy for elite clients to lose track of this, and as a result, become disconnected from the activities that make them feel most fulfilled.
Perhaps due to these unique and isolating stressors, substance use disorders are common among high-powered clients. As one expert writes, “while money itself doesn’t cause addiction or substance abuse, wealth has been linked with a higher susceptibility to addiction problems6.”
In addition, numerous studies have found that in particular, the children of wealthy parents are extremely vulnerable to substance use disorders7. In fact, teens of high socioeconomic status are significantly more likely to use alcohol and drugs than those with less privilege.
The stereotypical image of a substance user as destitute couldn’t be further from the truth. While it’s true that people with this diagnosis may come from any social class, substance misuse is likely on the rise among the elite. Reporting for Forbes, Alice Walton writes, “the prevalence of substance abuse in the CEO circle8 is hard to gauge because it is so clandestine–these are not the people who are checking themselves into rehab, they’re the people who [are] staying out of it and continuing to function. A recent study from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism found that about 20% of alcoholics are high functioning and well-educated. Prescription medication addiction is rising in many circles, the C-suite among them.”
However, this demographic also experiences unique barriers to treatment. Walton goes on to explain that some elite clients may be less trusting, and therefore resistant to receiving care. What’s more, many high-powered clients are high-functioning substance users. If you’re used to performing under pressure, you may be able to keep up appearances for a long time, despite overwhelming emotional turmoil. “There’s often the if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it mentality.”
It can be difficult to internalize the idea that you don’t need to lose everything before you admit you need treatment. This can be especially hard for clients who enjoy an especially high standard of living. If you’re accustomed to a certain lifestyle, it can be difficult to imagine giving it up, even temporarily.
Many elite clients may delay seeking help because they’re unable to step away from pressing responsibilities. And others have trouble considering inpatient treatment, because they’re concerned about leaving certain amenities behind. Fortunately, some rehab programs are designed specifically for these clients. You may be able to benefit from inpatient treatment without losing access to the healthy parts of a lifestyle you love.
There are luxury rehab programs all over the world. These upscale facilities are capable of offering treatment to elite clients, without interrupting their access to important amenities. You may even be able to attend a bespoke rehab facility that will tailor the program to suit your exact standards.
Many rehabs offer individualized treatment. These programs may be personalized in a number of ways, giving clients a great deal of control over their own recovery processes. For example, you may be able to decide what type of therapy you participate in, how much access you have to technology, and how long you spend in residence.
Clients at Mercui Recovery, for example, are housed in “private luxury accommodations in a natural wilderness environment.” This rehab boasts five-star service, offering clinical therapy, business coaching, massage, and infrared sauna therapy, among many other modalities. By serving only one client at a time, they offer utmost discretion and highly personalized care.
High-level executives may have difficulty leaving work to attend rehab. To accommodate their needs, some programs allow you to work remotely while you’re in residence. Orenda at Futures, for instance, provides executive clients with a private workspace during their stay.
The team at this facility recognizes that this hard-working demographic has a unique set of needs, goals, and barriers to treatment. Clients have the freedom to work during rehab, while still receiving care of the highest quality.
Recovery is hard work, but parts of it can be enjoyable! Remember: rehab is an opportunity for you to reset. Finding activities you can healthily enjoy is a very important part of the healing process.
Luxury rehabs offer a wide variety of amenities. White River Manor, in South Africa, offers spa services, one-on-one personal training, and Pilates. At ABHASA Rehabilitation and Wellness Home, you can engage in pet therapy, music and dance classes, aromatherapy, massage, and yoga. Many programs also invite clients on adventure outings, in which you might go on safari, swim with the dolphins, or explore the rim of a volcano.
Some therapeutic modalities—such as mindfulness and meditation—are commonly found at holistic rehabs. This approach is designed to treat every aspect of a client’s health as a whole, and may focus on strengthening the mind-body connection.
Healing is hard work. However, one of rehab’s main goals is to help you create a life you love, even without the use of illicit substances. At the right facility, you won’t be denied access to the activities you find most meaningful and fulfilling. On the contrary, you’ll be encouraged to learn new skills, and develop healthier habits as a result.
When you complete inpatient treatment, you may ultimately decide to return home. This is not a necessity, of course. And you may first spend time in a transitional facility, such as a sober living environment. But for elite clients, especially those who continue working during rehab, it’s often the appropriate choice.
Returning to your previous environment may mean that your stress levels increase. Although that can be challenging, it’s not necessarily a barrier to recovery. From the moment you arrive at rehab, your team will begin to help you strategize ways to avoid or cope with relapse. Some programs, like Orenda at Futures, may also offer you in-person support for social functions that may be triggering.
Perhaps most importantly, remember that a life without substance use can still be fun. For some clients, it proves to be even more fun and more meaningful than life before rehab. The goal of healing is not to deny yourself life’s many pleasures. Instead, you’ll learn how to live your life to the fullest, in a much more sustainable way.
Everyone deserves care. No matter how affluent you are, how much pressure you’re under, or how many responsibilities you have, that includes you. First and foremost, you are responsible to yourself. And by getting help, you’ll be in a far better position to support the people who rely on you.
For many elite clients, rehab feels out of reach. It can be hard to imagine letting go of certain behaviors, spending time out of the office, or stepping back from social engagements. However, recovery doesn’t mean giving up the best parts of your life. It means letting go of unhealthy patterns, to make room for something even better.
To learn more about programs tailored to high-powered clients, you can browse our list of luxury rehabs here.
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