We live in a very fast paced society where the acquisition of material wealth and the almighty dollar oftentimes takes precedence over all other areas of our lives. The place where most of us spend our days to accumulate this most prized possession is usually an unavoidable source of stress. For those working in the area of finance, the level of stress can be so overwhelming, it drives some people to self-medicate, which can spiral out of control and lead to addiction.

he choice of finance as a career enables job opportunities in many areas to include commercial and investment banking, corporate finance, hedge funds, private equity and venture capital. A stockbroker on Wall Street is an example of a professional working in finance. Jobs in finance are usually very demanding and require long hours to become successful. The competition and drive to excel and maintain a certain status exert an enormous amount of pressure and stress at work, driving some to work 60 to 70 hours per week. This can wreak havoc on the psyche. It’s also detrimental to one’s mental and physical health forcing them to find a drug rehab center for help and hopefully before it’s not too late to keep their jobs and careers on track.

The constant stress of long, taxing workdays and handling large sums of money for other people, can eventually wear the mind and body down to a point where one is functioning on autopilot. Finance professionals often push themselves past an acceptable limit, thereby causing a breakdown of normal functioning. Self-medicating is a means to relieve the stress and feel revitalized.

The corporate culture exerts tremendous organizational control over white-collar workers’ performance and thought processes, sometimes on a subconscious level. Some companies offer round the clock support to their employees by incorporating free time during working hours and giving free perks such as childcare, car service, and free meals. They effectively blur the division of work and free time. This tends to facilitate an employee’s sense of obligation and needs to get the job done at whatever cost. In addition, performance is the deciding factor in many cases of employees getting fired so energy levels have to be unceasingly high.

As the pressure to achieve and succeed mounts, many are forced into making difficult choices. Every other part of their life becomes secondary to meeting and exceeding their goals at work. Family obligations and personal well being take a backseat to moving up the ladder, making money and crushing the competition.

This leads to a variety of addictions, dysfunctional behavior and feeling out of control. Tempers flare and patience becomes nonexistent. In order to maintain their performance level while simultaneously experiencing these disorders, they have to push themselves even harder, which is when a “meltdown” may occur. Addicts tend to be excessively critical of themselves and in denial about substance abuse, not wanting to admit the problem for fear of being stigmatized.

Substance abuse is used as a means to push their mind and body past its limits and self-medicate in the process. They are risk takers and rationalize the use of alcohol or drugs with a “whatever it takes” mentality, which is supported by the culture. We see this portrayed in the media as well; Wall Street executives working around the clock with no sleep and doing any and everything to win. The addiction may start with a prescription for Xanax or Oxycontin, written for pain resulting from a minor injury or maybe something to “take the edge off.” The feelings experienced while medicated are similar to that of illicit drugs and alcohol and they become addictive, even more so as they may be more easily obtained. Professionals in finance are extremely intelligent individuals that are used to running things and being in control at all times. The idea of succumbing to alcohol or prescription drugs is not an option for them.

Even when the addiction is broken and the individual is free of substance abuse; it is as if it never happened. In the world of high finance, more than any other profession, being an addict, even in the past, is not conducive to trust and confidence when handling millions of dollars. It is not information one would want to become public knowledge, as the competition would surely use it against you.

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