There is no denying that working as a financial professional can be an extremely stressful career. With volatile stock markets, badgering clients and millions of dollars on the line, it has become a prime field for addiction. As movies like Wall Street and The Wolf of Wall Street have illustrated, it’s an industry filled with cocaine binges, chronic alcoholism and unhealthy lifestyles. One new vice that appears to have crept in, however, is opioid abuse and its ability to soothe brokers’ daily demands.
The New York Post recently did an expose on this growing epidemic and the efforts that are being made to shield the facts from the public. As writer, Gregory Bresiger put it, opioid addiction has become Wall Street’s “dirty little secret.” Recovery specialist, Dr. Nancy Irwin, was quoted in the piece and described the allure of painkillers for stressed out traders.
“Opiates are a great way to numb out from the psychological pressures of the business, [and] forget if you have physical pain,” she told The Post. “Professionals may begin taking these drugs to treat a physical problem but continue using them after a wound or cut has healed because these drugs now help them get through trying times at the firm.”
The article went on to highlight the secretive nature of this problem and the reasons Wall Street execs want to keep it hidden. For one thing these professionals are handling large sums of money, so any type of misconduct (such as abusing pills on the job) could not only cost them their career, it could lead to federal charges. Image and reputation are also big components of this industry and being branded an “addict” can do tremendous damage within these tight-knit professional communities.
One former trader has come forward and spoke to The Post about the importance of addressing this problem. Financial exec Trey Laird admitted that a simple knee injury led to a downward addiction spiral that took him years to recover from. Speaking with outlets like CNBC and Bloomberg News, Laird has now switched his emphasis towards recovery and exposing this dangers facing financial professionals.
“The industry is turning a blind eye to the problem because money is the bottom line,” he explained. “To my knowledge, there are no published studies on the Wall Street opiate epidemic.”
Dr. Irwin supported Laird’s claim and felt that de-stigmatizing this issue is one of the crucial steps needed to turn things around. “I see three primary reasons why financial professionals aren’t seeking more help,” she concluded. “The fear of losing their jobs, the fear of stigma and shame and the lack of information on how to handle treatment while abiding by their professional boards.”’