US BANKERS SEEK TREATMENT
Reuters reports that people in finance are seeking treatment for addiction as the global economic crisis sinks its teeth into a high-stakes industry where confidence is the name of the game and nobody wants to admit to a weakness. This phenomenon occurred in the UK during the 1980s financial crisis.
"We see more people coming in naming either a job loss or huge financial reversals or big investments with Bernie Madoff. They're being admitted with depression or increases in substance abuse, or both," said Sigurd Ackerman, medical director at Silver Hill Hospital rehabilitation facility in New Canaan. There is a high concentration of financial professionals in the town, 40 miles from New York.
"You're supposed to be on top of everything," said one financial services executive who began alcohol rehab in August.
Robert Curry, founder of Turning Point for Leaders, said the financial crisis was a factor in more drink and drug use. "We've got more than 50 homes in foreclosure in this town and that's unheard of. Domestic violence incidents have spiked, and that is closely tied to substance abuse." Curry is a former financial executive who started working with substance abusers two decades ago.
Despite the recession, demand is growing. Clients include bankers, businessmen and doctors and are overwhelmingly male.
Harris Stratyner, a psychologist with Caron Treatment Centers, a leading non-profit addiction treatment foundation with offices in Manhattan, said stars of the financial world were by nature more prone to risky and extreme behaviour.
"There's an adrenalin rush that's connected to economics," he said. "Why are so many people attracted to that world? Many already are adrenalin junkies, and are looking for the high highs and the low lows."
Stratyner said economic anxiety can push people over the edge, but also allows addicts to rationalise their behaviour, blaming stress or claiming they can't afford treatment.
Joseph Califano, former US secretary of health who founded the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse in 1992, said anxiety clearly raised the risk of substance abuse in all socio-economic groups. "There's still tremendous stigma and shame – but this is not a moral failing, it's a disease."
"The cost is more than I'd like," said one businessman in rehab. “But it's less expensive than losing your job … less expensive than losing a client or losing your family, or losing your home or getting in trouble with the law."