Addiction is an unfortunate but common issue that many families have to deal with. Families in business together are not exempt from this issue.
When a family member has an addiction, be it drugs, sex, gambling, alcohol, etc., it is necessary to address the problem in order to have long term family harmony and stability. This is especially critical if the addict is the anticipated successor.
Unaddressed, addiction can wreak havoc on a succession plan. As a consultant and family therapist, I have seen the results and consequences of addiction on families. The addict places a huge burden on the family. Their erratic and irrational behavior takes an emotional toll on everyone.
Unfortunately, for a family in business together, a lack of family harmony not only affects the family, but negatively impacts the business’ success as well.
There are two common ways families deal with an addict in the family. The first is they pretend the problem doesn’t exist, or they end up enabling the addict as a way of coping.
However, in reality the problem does not magically disappear. If your family is facing this tough situation, here are some steps family members can take to effectively deal with an addict.
- Encourage (not threaten or force) the addict to seek professional treatment. The best case scenario is for the addict to enter treatment willingly and take responsibility of his or her own healing.
- Regardless of whether or not the addict decides to seek treatment, you should attend support groups. Support groups will teach you about setting boundaries, consequences, compassion when it comes to dealing with an addict, not taking on the responsibility for the addict staying in treatment, being supportive versus enabling and what to expect from the addict.
- Have all family member’s employees sign a Family Member Employment Policy that includes the requirement for them to be addiction free. You can stipulate in the policy that anyone found to be suffering from an addiction must seek treatment and show proof of successfully completing a treatment program as a condition of continued employment.
The third step is important for any business owner, whether or not you currently have a member of the family suffering from addiction, in recovery, or even if everyone appears to be doing well.
Implementing policies and safeguards to protect what you have worked so hard for is just common sense. No one knows what tomorrow may bring, but planning for all possible contingencies will provide for the best chance of future success for both your business and family.