When Lewis Finch started on his road to recovery from alcoholism, he felt out of place at the treatment sessions he was attending. A highly successful advertising agency owner, Finch was in a group of 40 people, only three of whom were businesspeople.
So, several years into his recovery, he launched Raleigh-based Welwynn Outpatient Center specifically for people like himself who are high-level performers such as doctors, lawyers, business executives, and pilots, among others.
“Ours is a peer-to-peer outpatient program. Many of our clients are high-functioning professionals who have experienced large amounts of success in one discipline,” Finch said. “Most people think that because they have been successful in one field, it allows them the ability to control using and obtain abstinence on their own. That can be an impediment. It is difficult for these professionals to fully let go of control and to seek help. At Welwynn, individuals form bonds and friendships because they have so many similarities.”
Finch’s own story was one of being a social drinker and opportune drug user. After he started an ad agency, the pressures of finding new clients, paying the bills, and meeting payroll triggered his drinking to go out of control. He hit bottom in 2007 following two DWI arrests and the loss of his driving privileges for three years.
Impediment for Lawyers
Earlier this year, Finch and Welwynn teamed with Attorney at Law Magazine for a roundtable discussion with deans from the local law schools and bar organization leaders. The discourse highlighted increasing incidences of substance abuse, suicide and depression among lawyers and sought solutions.
“The biggest impediment facing attorneys seeking help is their high public standing and how well known and well thought of they find themselves,” Finch said. “That status in the community can keep them from seeking help because they don’t want to lose all that they worked so hard to get. Their thought process is that if the people knew about their drinking, they would stop coming to them as an attorney. So, they just keep hoping that they can stop drinking on their own.”
According to Finch, 85% of the population can drink and use drugs without consequences. High functioning individuals in the other 15% don’t understand why they can’t do the same. “Alcohol and substance abuse is a disease. Alcohol and drugs are simply symptoms of underlying conditions. It could be anxiety; it could be depression. Unless you address the underlying condition, the addiction never really goes away. Most people think, ‘If I stop drinking, everything will be okay.’”
Impact on the Family
“You would expect families to be part of the solution,” Finch said. “In fact, families and friends are either willing participants or unknowing participants in that person’s drinking. Families have a lot at stake financially, and until the bottom falls out and there is a consequence of the situation, the family doesn’t react the way it should. If that lawyer is the sole provider for that family, the family is dependent on that provider to give them what they need in their lives. A family member coming to the provider and convincing them they have a problem and then holding them accountable to get the help they need is very rare.
“Families take the brunt of our addictions and are the collateral damage,” he continued. “The irony is that you always hurt the ones you love the most. The people you have the most respect for and who you should be the most honest with are the ones you wind up lying to the most and who have to deal with the aftermath of your addiction.”
How Much Will This Cost
Finch says prospective new clients want to know how much treatment at Welwynn will cost and how long do they have to be there.
“The answer is, ‘We don’t know,’” said Finch. “Addiction treatment is not a short-term obligation. The time parameter is based on your level of commitment. Do you really want something to happen to change the dynamic you’ve been going through? Your ability to engage in recovery is critical to your success.”
For more information contact, Shannon Ware, director of client services at [email protected] or 984-200-2780.