Addiction And Substance Abuse In The Finance Industry

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Many financial professionals work in high-risk, adrenaline-charged positions that can bring immense success, though it’s often a rough road to get there. Nearly one in 10 of these professionals abuse substances. Fortunately, there are many resources available to support addiction recovery.

Rate Of Addiction Among Finance Professionals

Finance is a broad field that revolves around the management of money. Financial professionals provide services that include budgeting, saving, investing, borrowing, lending, and forecasting.

Finance is a satisfying career path for people who thrive when challenged. The competition is stiff and stress is high, but the potential for success is palpable.

Nonetheless, nearly one in 10 financial professionals abuse drugs or alcohol. While some may do so to manage stress levels, others may use substances to manage boredom or to loosen up around peers.

Rate Of Addiction Among Finance Professionals

Approximately 9.4% of financial professionals deal with substance misuse issues. The extent of substance abuse in this industry has been widely portrayed in films, like The Wolf of Wall Street and The Big Short.

Alcohol consumption is the most prominent substance issue among financial professionals. About 7.4% of them experience alcohol addiction, though the number is believed to be higher.

There are a few reasons why the use of alcohol is common among these professionals, especially bankers. Heavy pressure to make the most money is one of the biggest risk factors.

Financial professionals may drink to “take the edge” off a hard workday. This demographic is also known for their love of caffeinated beverages, and alcohol may serve as a way to wind down.

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The Financial Industry And Drug Addiction

About 6.5% of finance professionals abuse illicit drugs. Cocaine, a powerful and short-lived stimulant, grew popular in the 1970s, though it remains so among this cohort today.

Referred to as a “rich man’s party drug,” cocaine is particularly prevalent among finance workers in big cities like New York, Los Angeles, and Miami, where a lot of money is concentrated.

In addition to cocaine, marijuana is also one of the most popularly used illicit drugs in this industry. However, legalization has led to some ambiguities about workplace policies regarding cannabis.

Financial Professionals And Prescription Drug Use

Prescription drugs used to treat attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), like Adderall and Vyvanse, are perhaps even more popular than cocaine among financial professionals.

It’s believed that prescription stimulants are more heavily abused by younger professionals. However, the exact figure remains unknown.

Opioid painkillers are also a problem, particularly among investment bankers, though the exact figure is also unknown. Some professionals may use opioids to self-medicate the stress related to their careers.

Type Of Drug Use Rate Of Addiction Trend
Alcohol Use 7.4% Consistent
Illicit Drug Use 6.5% Cocaine and marijuana are the most used illicit drugs
Prescription Drug Abuse N/A Adderall and opioids are the most abused

Signs Of Addiction Among Professionals In The Financial Sector

When a person is experiencing drug or alcohol abuse, there may be changes regarding physical and/or behavioral health and overall well-being.

Common signs of a substance use disorder (SUD) include:

There are also signs of addiction that may be apparent in the workplace specifically.

Common signs of substance abuse among finance workers include:

  • lost productivity
  • impaired coordination
  • neglecting work-related responsibilities
  • decreased ability to meet deadlines and make meetings
  • unnecessary risk-taking
  • increased absenteeism
  • problems with coworkers

Possible Contributing Factors To Addiction Among Finance Professionals

The American financial industry consists of 7.6 million professionals. The atmosphere of many companies, though not all, is one of high competition and intense personalities.

There is often pressure to perform and little compromise when it comes to money. Though professionals are often awarded with competitive salaries, the journey to success is not always a smooth ride.

Social Acceptance Of Alcohol

Drinking is very much a part of the financial industry. Alcohol sits in the center of many business talks, deals, and celebrations.

It’s both common and socially acceptable for people to use alcohol to blow off steam after a deal-gone-sour, or when a stressful deal is finalized.

In an industry where drinking is normal and even expected, some professionals may view non-drinkers or light drinkers with suspicion.

Risk-Taking Workplace Culture

Some jobs in the financial industry come with a higher level of risk. When people and corporations entrust someone to use their investments to make money, there are also high expectations.

Thus, the financial industry may attract people who enjoy the adrenaline rush of risk-taking. Consequently, adrenaline-seeking behaviors can make someone more prone to addictive behaviors.

Pressure To Perform

The financial industry is highly competitive. There are many professionals who strive to become the best of the best, and who are determined to become just that.

There are also many people in this industry, as in other highly competitive fields, who associate self-worth with work performance. Hence, there is a major pressure to perform.

This constant pressure may lead to substance abuse and other health problems over time, including insomnia, anxiety, depression, weight loss or gain, and even heart disease.

Fear Of Asking For Help

Because of the high pressure, financial professionals may be hesitant to admit they have substance abuse issues or seek help.

Some professionals may fear that admitting to an addiction can make them susceptible to being laid off or fired. With so much focus on success, it can be difficult to take on such a risk.

There is also the notion that upper management may be willing to overlook drug or alcohol abuse if a professional is making them money. This behavior further normalizes substance use in the workplace.

Financial Resources

Financial professionals who are successful and also have substance abuse issues may face a more difficult road than those who are financially struggling.

Having the financial means to continue feeding an addiction, and the type of job where drugs or alcohol may be used to help earn more money, can only perpetuate the cycle of addiction.

Having available financial resources also makes it possible for a person’s addiction to grow more severe before consequences begin to surface.

Resources For Finance Professionals With Substance Abuse Issues

Every person is vulnerable to substance abuse, regardless of their career or how successful they are. Still, everyone with an addiction issue is worthy of receiving the help needed to recover.

Many financial institutions offer paid health care to full-time employees. Thus, companies should educate their employees on local treatment options that offer inpatient and/or outpatient addiction treatment services.

An effort can be made to educate employees on the signs of substance abuse and the benefits of treatment programs. Employers can also enforce a drug-free workplace policy.

Companies can provide employees with information on employee-assistance programs (EAPs), which includes voluntary counseling for people with substance abuse and/or mental health issues.

Financial professionals can also participate in talk therapy with a licensed professional, or attend peer-led support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous.

Freedom From Addiction Is Possible

Addiction doesn’t discriminate; it can affect anyone at any time. Fortunately, help is only a phone call away.

If you or a loved one is dealing with substance abuse, contact to get connected with a treatment center today.

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