In this episode, Ellie Frey Zagel and Arden O’Connor talk about addiction and its impact on families. Arden grew up in a family business and is the Founder of O’Connor Professional Group, a company she started to address the needs of families and individuals struggling with an array of behavioral health issues, including addiction, mental health disorders, eating disorders, learning, and other developmental challenges. Arden’s team includes a variety of social workers, case managers, attorneys, physicians, and other clinical specialists.
Arden’s connection to addiction is personal. She has several relatives in recovery, and she lost a brother to the disease. From that experience, Arden saw the challenges with the system and knew there had to be a better way. Today, she is passionate about helping families and individuals navigate the highly fragmented treatment system in a way that creates positive outcomes and allows families to heal.
In the interview, Arden shares several statistics about addiction, including:
- Sons of alcoholic fathers are 4 to 6 times more likely to become alcoholics themselves
- 10% of the population has some type of addictive disorder (and this is likely low due to underreporting)
- Overdose is the leading cause of death for people under the age of 50
- A growing percent of baby boomers are being hit with addictive disorders
- At least 50% of people with an addictive disorder have a co-occurring mental health issue (e.g., anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia)
- The relapse rate for someone going through treatment is as high as 80%
- Moderate drinking is 7-10 drinks for women and 10-14 drinks for men
In this episode:
- Meet Arden O’Connor (2:11)
- Why O’Connor Professional Group was founded (3:25)
- What addiction is and what it is not (6:30)
- Is addiction genetic? (10:30)
- Addictive personalities (11:25)
- Stats on addiction (13:30)
- Addiction is a family issue (17:17)
- About denial (23:35)
- Understanding why (and when that matters) (35:00)
- Top 3 things to help families heal (37:30)
- Words of wisdom for friends (42:42)
- Words for individuals struggling with addiction (46:00)
- Resources (52:10)
- About O’Connor Professional Group (53:48)
- Bonus questions (56:10)
Resources from this episode:
O’Connor Professional Group’s Resources Page
Addiction Recovery: A Family’s Journey by Diana Clark
Beyond Addiction: How Science and Kindness Help People Change by Jeff Foote
Clean by David Sheff
Raised Healthy, Wealthy and Wise by Coventry Edwards Pitts
Dopey Podcast (warning: very edgy)
Notable and Quotable:
Addiction is a chronic relapsing disease. —Arden O’Connor
Addiction is not a moral failing or a sign that someone is lacking willpower. —Arden O’Connor
Family members should understand how their own behaviors are contributing to the person getting better or contributing to the addiction growing. —Arden O’Connor
Arden O’Connor founded the O’Connor Professional Group to address the needs of families and individuals struggling with an array of behavioral health issues, including addiction, mental health disorders, eating disorders, learning, and other developmental challenges. With several relatives in recovery, Arden is passionate about helping families and individuals navigate the highly fragmented treatment system in a way that creates positive outcomes and allows families to heal.
Arden is a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Business School. She remains heavily involved in community activities, as a board member of Winsor School Corporation, Collaboration for Family Flourishing, Massachusetts Association of Mental Health, Attorneys for Family Held Enterprises, and C4 Recovery Solutions. Previously, she served as a board member for the Justice Resource Institute (former chair), Harvard Club of Boston, Victory Programs, and Harvard Business School Alumni Association of Boston. She maintains professional affiliations with the following organizations: Boston Estate Planning Council, Worthy Circles and Family Firm Institute.
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