Financial Industry Culture: High-Intensity Jobs and Drug Abuse

Sad businessman next to some wall looking down

Pressure, … pushing down on me, pushing down on you … are the familiar lyrics sung by Queen and David Bowie. Having a secure job should mean financial security, less pressure and less stress. However, working in the financial industry has a culture all its own and one that may have you singing along with Queen and Bowie.

Although the stories seem less publicized in comparison to those of Hollywood stars or athletes, there are plenty of drug abuse tales about excesses that exists in the financial industry.

For example, Former Galleon Group Trader and author Turney Duff talks about it in his book The Buy Side: A Wall Street Trader’s Tale of Spectacular Excess. The book explores the competitive and aggressive nature that occurs in the financial industry and how that can influence drinking habits and drug use.

For many in this industry, client entertainment is how deals get done and that can lead to excessive drinking and drug use.  The flip side of the coin is that once you’re in this industry, many describe their need to pretend to feel happy. Whether you’re trying to keep up or you are just drowning in your own misery, addiction among this crowd can be common.

Some are addicted to fitness, some to gambling, some to trophy wives, and others to drugs—or any mix of these. Similarities between the world of an addict and those in the banking industry are striking. Both can get caught up in the cycle of addiction.

Addicts will tell you they are not addicted so they can take one more hit or one more drink. The same can be said for financial industry bankers who say they can leave the industry at any time, but continue working for “just one more” bonus check. Meanwhile, any associated alcohol or substance addiction can persist.

No one can be perfect all the time, make all the right decisions and never show signs of stress, but in an industry where that would make you appear unreliable, it’s easy to see how lines get crossed. Whether you are on the outside looking in or the inside looking out, perspectives and points of view on this topic seem to vary widely. Those in the industry believe it’s how the game is played and they stick together. Those outside the industry feel like if you make the big bucks, that’s the price you pay. No matter what side of the fence you fall, the reality is that a problem does exist.

According to an article by Bill Granahan in the business publication Investment Dealer’s Digest, “abuse of cocaine, prescription drugs and alcohol remains widespread on the Street [Wall Street].”

No matter how often or how little you’re consuming, if drug use is causing problems in your life, you may have a drug abuse or addiction problem. Using drugs to escape stress or depression, alter your mood, or push your body to the brink for performance is an open invitation for falling prey to addiction.  If you feel this may relate to your personal situation, do not hesitate to speak with a professional about your individual situation.