"In the 1980s cocaine and heroin were widely used on Wall Street," says Dr. Alden Cass, a psychologist who makes his living counseling bankers. "Now that drugs can be purchased over the Internet, it's much more about prescription medications."
According to Cass, drugs of choice include Adderall, a stimulant prescribed to people with attention deficit disorder. It "gives them focus and energy and revs them up," says Cass. On the other hand, "it's addictive, and if you have underlying heart problems it can cause heart attacks."
Another favorite is Vicodin, an opiate prescribed for back problems. Bankers "use it to numb themselves from the stresses of a job in which they are constantly expected to perform," Cass explains.
Of course, prescription drug abuse isn't restricted to bankers, Cass points out. It's a phenomenon he compares to doping in sports, and is prevalent in all well-paid, stressful, performance-focused jobs, including law and entertainment.
Instead of turning to drugs, Cass advises developing other coping mechanisms. "The first goal is figuring out how to be efficient and have the natural energy to get through the work day," he says. "You need to sleep enough, eat right and be prepared from a scheduling standpoint, so that you know what needs prioritizing. Adderall might help you get through the day, but it's not going to do you any good."