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“The trading desk is surrounded by glass. I work in a fishbowl. I’m in the middle of a newly renovated office on Park Avenue . . . As the opening bell rings, every muscle in my body clenches. I sit upright and try to focus on the eight computer screens in front of me. There are 25 orders on my desk, each from five to 10 million dollars and involving some sort of investment decision. My head throbs.”

In his book The Buy Side: A Wall Street Trader’s Tale of Spectacular Excess, Turney Duff tells his story, in memoir form, of a Wall Street cocaine addict turned published author, and that quote above is just the beginning.

The Picture Is Painted

The life of a high-pressured, highly-successful money manager shows how the world of trading is lined with addiction (pun intended.) “I’m on the buy side,” Duff tells a impossible-to-get-into restaurant in Manhattan. She stares back, puzzled, as Duff expects to be seated right away. In the Wall Street trading industry, “the buy side” is the best side. As the head trader at one of the largest hedge funds in the world, Turney Duff was on “the buy side” which is said to be as close to royalty as you can get in the United States.

In his own words, Duff says, “You’re on every guest list, the tab is always picked up, and you’re invited everywhere by your new ‘best’ friends.” He goes on to disclose his “celebrity” life of, “private jets, floor seats, limousines, and parties.” Everyone wants to be around you because you are partying, seemingly living the dream life, and holding tons of money and all of the power.

Life Was Not Sweet

Life seems sweet, but a whirlwind of addiction cannot sustain for long. What goes up must come down, and Duff speaks firsthand of the truth in that statement. He recounts nights of drinking and drugging for hours into the next day. He was making more money than he needed, and that lead to his cocaine habit.

The high of quick deals that yield large amounts of money, the high of cocaine to work the long hours required, and the high of constantly seeking the next high forces anyone to come crashing back down to Earth. His habit became his addiction, and his life suffered. He lost his girlfriend and had to leave his larger-than-life job to save his life.

Going To Rehab

Turney Duff went to rehab. As you can imagine, the life he was living makes for a titillating book, but what readers may fail to see is that he was slowly killing himself to keep up with the official and unofficial job description of a Wall Street buy-side trader.

Money is great; it affords you many things in this life, but at what point is it a problem? If you can buy hookers and cocaine night after night, where do you draw the line? When you become addicted to cocaine, or any other substance, as will always happen because addiction is progressive, you are unable to draw your own lines anymore. As a grown man working on Wall Street, you are out of control. It seems your life will come down to 3 options: rehab, jail, or death. Simple as that.

Millions Are Addicted

Millions of people are addicted to something, and many argue that everyone has at least a mild addiction to a person, place, thing, activity or feeling. Are people who are predisposed genetically to addiction, and who live for the next exciting thrill attracted to the world of trading? Could the connection between Wall Street and cocaine be less than coincidental?

Turney Duff is showing the masses what his life was like, and how he went from a Wall Street cocaine addict to a published author.

How many more traders like him will choose rehab before one of the other two options is chosen for them?

About the Author: Jared Friedman is an addiction expert from his time spent as quality improvement manager for Sovereign Health a dual diagnosis treatment center Keep up with Jared Friedman and his work on Twitter @sovhealthofca.


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