How the One Percent Pays to Stay Sober

By McCarton Ackerman 06/11/13

The trend of hiring secret "sober companions" is taking off among wealthy NY businesspeople.

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Money can't buy happiness, but can it buy sobriety? Elite addicts like Lindsay Lohan and Charlie Sheen have paid big bucks for the luxury of hiring "sober companions" to help them steer clear of their former vices. And now the trend is growing among wealthy New York executives in recovery, the New York Post reports. These sober companions work mainly undercover—so that their clients may save face—and their around-the-clock duties may include personal assistant, bodyguards, researchers and drivers. Sober companion Chuck Kanner recalls one of his former clients, a multi-millionaire digital technology bigwig, "sitting there [meeting] with people like Bill ClintonRudolph Giuliani and Mario Cuomo, spaced out, and I'd be saying: 'Dude, this is not okay!'" Sixty percent of investment bankers suffer “serious stress,” according to research from the University of Pennsylvania, and increasing numbers are abusing illegal and prescription drugs.To capitalize on rising consumer demand, Dunes Rehab Center in the Hamptons has established an Executive Treatment Program at the cost of $50,000-80,000 per month, which allows clients to leave the site with their undercover assistants in order to continue their day job. “These guys can’t possibly conceive of burying themselves away somewhere for 30, 60, 90 days,” says Dunes founder Joe McKinsey. “They have empires to run.” Of course, the arrangement is not foolproof; sober companion Peter Downing says a Hamptons real estate mogul he once worked for disappeared and went off on a two-day bender. When the client returned, prostitutes and a drug dealer appeared at the door demanding money. He recalls: "I told them to scram."

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.

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