Wealth and Addiction: A Complicated Correlation

Among the vast rich and diverse communities of South Florida it is becoming more common to come across individuals and families who have both a high net worth and who also have a loved one, such as a partner, child or grandchild, who is combating untreated addiction disorder(s).

Wealth and addiction can actually be a far more dangerous combination. Wealthy addicts have the financial means to afford copious amounts of lethal substances, such as heroin, opioids, and other drugs, which are increasingly laced with fentanyl. Fentanyl is an exponentially more powerful and addictive substance drug dealers will “cut” or lace their drugs with to increase profits. Drug addictions, especially those to opioids, can cloud judgement and rewire the addicts brain to do anything for that next “hit”. Where the poor may beg, pickpocket or steal, already wealthy individuals eliminate the financial devastation addictions can bring. Simply for the fact they have far more money to spend this increased access means there are more opportunities for an addict to suffer a fatal overdose as they are rarely, if ever, slowed by the steep financial costs of addiction.   

This is not to say that addict’s with limited financial resources are better off or their situations are less dangerous. In fact, it is often quite the contrary with petty crimes for drug money, and homelessness rampid. However, commerce favors people with money and therefore allows them to expedite the process of acquiring larger quantities of drugs on demand. Where the poor may only have the means to acquire a single hit, the wealthy can buy large quantities removing general access problems poverty brings about.

I am not a financial advisor or fully knowledgeable about estate planning, but I know there are some legal mechanisms families can put in place to protect their estate from an addicted heir. This includes placing an individual's inheritance in a trust, which carefully defines the terms in which they are eligible to receive money. 

The last thing you want to do is give money to an active addict or alcoholic. In the best case scenario they’ll spend the money on drugs and other outlandish expenditures still alive, but the more often worst case scenario is death or permanent health problems due to their habit(s). 

Despite having legal remedies at their disposal the best thing any family can do is make sure their dependents are on a solid path of recovery. If someone in your family is struggling with addiction, get them into an appropriate treatment program that can help them address their underlying issues. Anything a family does to protect its assets from an addicted family member is putting a bandaid on the problem. The real solution is for them to achieve lasting recovery.

For more information about helping someone you love recover from addiction, visit us at SouthFloridaintervention.com or contact us at 202-390-2273.