Are You a Trading Junkie?

Doc Steenberger addresses a problem we rarely hear discussed: when trading becomes an addictive activity.

I can personally validate the truth of this discussion:  I started out in this business as a trader, and the high you get from the combination of adrenaline and endorphins — and making a great trade — is every bit as much a buzz as any drug you choose to name.

The hardest part about moving to "Research" was pulling the needle out of my arm, and the loss of that sweet, sweet junk every day . . .  (hmmmm, oh yeah, thats the ticket . . . ummm, nice).

Huh? Where was I? Oh, yes.

Anyway, the Doc notes that what is often described as "losses of discipline" can in actuality be revealing of addictive patterns of behavior:

"An addiction occurs when an activity provides a strong source of stimulation that, over time, leads to psychological and sometimes physical dependence. We generally label a behavior as an addiction when people seek out the activity even in the face of demonstrable negative consequences. It is the inability to stop the activity when those consequences interfere with life that marks any addiction.

Let’s look at the facts:

* According to research cited by the National Council on Problem Gambling, 2 million adults (1% of the population) meet the diagnostic criteria for pathological gambling. Another 4-8 million adults (2-4% of the population) can be considered problem gamblers who are experiencing direct problems as a consequence of gambling.

* Research in psychology and psychiatry reported in the Oxford Textbook of Psychopathology finds that between 14 and 16 million Americans meet diagnostic criteria for alcohol abuse or dependence. Between 4-6 million Americans are dependent upon illegal drugs.

* Rates of substance abuse among men ages 18-44 are double those of the general population.

* A family history of addictive problems is one of the best predictors of risk for addiction. Peer influence is another significant risk factor.

* According to a research review in the Oxford Textbook, rates of depression are significantly higher among people with addictions than in the general population, with indications that people are using the addictive activities to medicate themselves for the pain of depression.

* Addictions are also most common among individuals with attention deficits and hyperactivity problems and appear to be related to sensation-seeking among those needing stimulation.

Fascinating stuff, and an important and often overlooked issue.

Thanks, Doc.


Addictive Trading
Brett Steenbarger
TradingMarkets, Friday November 3, 9:27 am ET

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  1. bob commented on Nov 5

    Oh absolutely. Many (10?) years ago I was making > 300 trades per year and I agree it was some kind of madness.

    It takes understanding of the market, discipline, financial responsibility toward your family members to stop. Now I’m making 20-30 trades per year and I feel calm and have no love or hate toward my positions.

  2. SINGER commented on Nov 5

    the great thing about the BIG PICTURE…..

    is no matter how hopelessly addicted one becomes to it…

    it fails to produce any demonstrable negative consequences…

  3. cm commented on Nov 5

    SINGER: Carpal tunnel, tendonitis, and back problems from overusing and slouching in front of the computer.

  4. Fletcher commented on Nov 5

    I have observed over time that lawyers are especially susceptible to addiction because of the daily pressures and rush of activity – often leading to alcohol dependence.

  5. Borett Steenbarger commented on Nov 5

    Jak się masz? My name Borett. I read this Jew doctor, and he lie to the people. When I trade goat for sister of Azimov, I no become addict. I see she lose her virgine, so I take back goat and we make sexy time. High fiive! Dzięnkuję!

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