Opiates don't discriminate, says former Wall Street trader and recovering addict

Key Points
  • Trey Laird succumbed to opioid addiction while working as a trader on Wall Street.
  • He says there are functioning addicts working in almost every industry and that stigma impacts recovery.

Trey Laird, a Wall Street trader for 22 years, knows firsthand how quickly addiction can take hold.

After undergoing surgery, Laird's primary care doctor wrote him a 90-pill prescription, plus a refill, for pain management. He said it only took about two weeks for the addiction to take hold.

"It happened super quick," Laird said. "There's no coming back from it."

From West Virginia to Wall Street, Laird is one of 2 million Americans who has suffered from prescription opioid use disorder, according to the Dept. of Health and Human Services.

Prescription opioids, heroin and fentanyl killed more than 33,000 people in 2015. Overdose-related deaths have quadrupled since 1999, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

The problem of opioid addiction has become so widespread that the White House has taken action. President Trump labeled the opioid epidemic a public health emergency on Thursday.

Though opioid addiction has hit rural communities in states like West Virginia, Ohio and New Hampshire particularly hard, the crisis has also reached Wall Street.

"Addiction pervades every single socioeconomic demographic that there is," Laird said on Power Lunch. "Every industry, every race, men, women - it doesn't care who you are."

Laird couldn't provide specific statistics regarding addiction in the financial industry, but he believes it is a widespread problem.

"I'm not the only guy," Laird said. "Statistics would tell us in every industry there are functioning addicts."

Laird blames the opioid epidemic on the medical industry first and foremost. Pharmaceutical companies have pushed general practitioners to prescribe opioids, he said. Prevention begins with educating doctors on how to responsibly prescribe drugs and communicate the risk of addiction to patients, Laird said

"There was never a doctor who said to me as he handed me the prescription or the pills, 'be very careful with these, they're very dangerous,''' Laird said. "That was never part of the conversation."

He also believes the epidemic has been exacerbated by the social stigma surrounding addiction and recovery. To address that stigma and build a community of support for recovering addicts, Laird founded the Lighthouse, a sober living community in Connecticut, for professional men who've been through detox.

"In reality, the hardest part of recovery is the day you walk out of that treatment facility and figure out how to live your life sober one day at a time," Laird said.

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