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From Rags to Riches to Addiction - The Downfall of Billionaires
When we look into the data we see a staggering 54% of the family fortunes getting lost due to addiction & mental health issues. These two issues are more often than not intertwined and further reinforce each other. Often addictive substances are used as a coping mechanism to relieve uncomfortable feelings due to mental health issues (e.g. drinking alcohol to reduce social anxiety) and/or mental health issues could be the result of having abused addictive substances (e.g. feeling depressed or anxious after an alcohol binge).
This infographic clearly shows what ultra-wealthy families don’t want anyone to know about issues in the family: the majority of family fortunes get lost because of addiction & mental health issues.
When talking about the correlation between household income and prevalence of addiction, most people think of the lower income group having a higher prevalence of addiction. This correlation has indeed been found: multiple research studies show there is a relationship between low income and addiction. However, the other side of the graph is often overlooked when considering the UHNWI’s. The Ultra High-Net-Worth Individuals, defined by having a net worth of at least US$30 million. It turns out that the prevalence of addiction shoots up tremendously at these UHNWI-levels. Even exceeding the levels of the lowest income class with roughly 10%. Furthermore, fascinating to note is that this selective group of wealthy individuals seldom reach out for help for their addiction issues, with only 4% of them seeking help for addiction during their lifetime. This is lower than the overall population average (6%), as well as lower than the lowest income group (10%).
Knowing that the majority of the family fortunes are getting lost because of addiction & mental health issues and that the prevalence of addiction peaks at high income levels, why are these ultra-wealthy individuals less likely to engage in treatment? There is no easy answer to this question and there is a multitude of reasons why people choose to postpone or not to enroll at all into treatment. The main reasons we found are a fear of leaving work, a denial and rationalizing of behavior and feeling different from other addicts.