Rich, Powerful and Alcoholic

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    The rich and powerful from New Canaan, who make a living in the world of high-stakes world of finance, are doing what was unheard of before -- admitting weakness.

    Last year, if someone tried sending a Master of the Universe to rehab, he’d say “No, no, no.” But that was before Big Bad Bernie and the economic meltdown.

    Now, the rich and powerful from New Canaan, who once made a living in the world of high-stakes world of finance, are doing what was unheard of before -- admitting weakness.

    More and more men in banking, business and medicine are admitting they have a problem and seeking treatment for addiction or depression, experts told Reuters.

    "We absolutely do see more people coming in, naming either a job loss or huge financial reversals or big investments with Bernie Madoff," said Sigurd Ackerman, medical director at Silver Hill Hospital rehabilitation facility in New Canaan.

    New Canaan is not a place where you expect to see high rates of substance abuse.

    It’s a high-end haven for financial professionals, 40 miles from New York, where the average income is more than $200,000 a year and the average house is worth about $1.5 million.

    Yet, the rich and powerful here have fallen and looking for help, Ackerman said.

    This is a tough thing for these guys to admit, especially when booze is part of business. Entertaining clients usually includes kicking back with hard liquor, and sometimes drugs.

    "There's not a lot of sensitivity training or meetings where you sit around and ask how everyone is feeling," a Connecticut executive, who spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity, said. "No one walks around saying 'I feel your pain.'"

    Robert Curry, founder of Turning Point for Leaders, a New Canaan firm that creates treatment programs for senior executives, told Reuters the financial crisis was a factor in more drink and drug use.

    "We've got more than 50 homes in foreclosure in this town and that's unheard of," Curry told Reuters. "Domestic violence incidents have spiked, and that is very closely tied to substance abuse. … Companies are downsizing. … Budgets are being trimmed, and yet we're seeing an increase in our business."

    You almost have to be rich and powerful to seek this kind of treatment.

    A month in rehab costs from $25,000 at Caron Treatment Centers up to around $60,000 at high-end private facilities. Curry said most of his clients pay out of pocket for privacy reasons.