Performance Enhancing Trading Drugs

Discussions about personal psychology for the individual trader.
DPH
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Performance Enhancing Trading Drugs

Post by DPH » Mon Dec 12, 2011 11:35 pm

Here is a bit of a Taboo subject...

Using drugs to enhance human performance is as old as the hills, but I think the consensus is that any benefits derived get equally offset by negative side effects (Not to mention that many drugs are illegal!)

Although, there is no question that in some situations drugs can give one an “unfairâ€

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Post by Moto moto » Tue Dec 13, 2011 3:32 am

meditation and deep thinking might be more helpful.
Most drugs are more short term solutions and like derivatives can too easily be miss used.

Otherwise a good gin and tonic works for me at the start...whoops end of a busy day.

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Post by AFJ Garner » Tue Dec 13, 2011 3:33 am

I was pondering much the same subject recently. I remember when Prozac first came out there were reports that the "miracle" drug changed some people's personality and, depressed or not, they simply felt better. It enhanced their life. I don't think that this is a silly topic at all. Our bodies and minds are run by chemicals anyway. If there were a safe drug to alter the balance of my body chemicals and enhance my outlook on life, I would take it. I believe it will come eventually and I would welcome it. I practice meditation and have certainly worked enormously hard over the years to alter my perception of life. These practices have most definitely enhanced my life and changed my thought processes - I am a very different person today than 20 years ago. Yet despite many years of hard work I am none too sure that I have been able to alter the bedrock of my personality and there are certainly times when I would welcome the magic wand.

There are often times when I believe my judgement may be clouded by my moods, my body chemicals. There are times when I believe I may be adversely affected by external events which, in more buoyant moments, I would be oblivious to. On an intellectual basis I am usually very well aware of what is going on but on an emotional basis it is sometimes difficult to align my feelings with my reason.

This is one of those times.

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Post by Chris67 » Tue Dec 13, 2011 6:08 am

prozac - cant eat , cant sleep , cant pee, cant s%$£t , cant get an erection !!!!

And they call them happy pills !

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Post by rhc » Tue Dec 13, 2011 6:28 am

AFJ Garner wrote:There are often times when I believe my judgement may be clouded by my moods, my body chemicals. There are times when I believe I may be adversely affected by external events which, in more buoyant moments, I would be oblivious to.
On an intellectual basis I am usually very well aware of what is going on but on an emotional basis it is sometimes difficult to align my feelings with my reason.
It's confirmed! . . .you are a Human Being.
Congratulations!!

As for my good self, I find my moods can be somewhat correlated to my equity swings . . . . I doubt I would ever want to take Rx medication to 'correct' this though.
Generally speaking, 'Modern' Medicine tends to want to fix the symptom and not worry so much about the underlying cause. . . I'm more interested in why I am, why I am and not so much to ‘fix’ (via meds) why I’m feeling the way I am.

Trading speculative markets has the side benefit of offering a very good way to find out many things about yourself, if you're willing (able?) to pay attention that is.
Dropping Acid, or Prozac or some Thorazine (as mentioned recently in another thread) or some other 'performance' enhancer might dull you to such a degree that you may not be able to find out these things
(Do note that this is only my opinion on the matter)


Further on moods;
Chuang Tzu wrote:Joy and anger, sorrow and happiness, caution and remorse, come upon us by turns, with ever changing mood.
They come like music from hollowness, like mushrooms from damp.
Day and night they alternate within us, but we cannot tell whence they spring.
How can we hope in the spur of the moment* to lay our finger upon their true cause? . . . . . . . . (*Bold emphasis mine)
Last edited by rhc on Tue Dec 13, 2011 7:04 am, edited 1 time in total.

rhc
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Post by rhc » Tue Dec 13, 2011 6:32 am

Chris67 wrote:prozac - cant eat , cant sleep , cant pee, cant s%$£t , cant get an erection !!!!
These side effects are remarkably similar to a new drug called "Corzine". :wink:

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Post by drm7 » Tue Dec 13, 2011 8:06 am

My "drug" of choice is a cup of black coffee in the morning. Caffiene helps me focus, as I'm borderline ADD.

I remember reading an article a long time ago where high-level symphony orchestra musicians had a thriving black market in beta-blockers. Beta blockers reduce high blood pressure, but also induce an unnatural calmness - which helps people in high-pressure situations.

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Post by stopsareforwimps » Tue Dec 13, 2011 6:20 pm

drm7 wrote:My "drug" of choice is a cup of black coffee in the morning.
I have some relations with ADHD and had the opportunity to try Ritalin and Dexamphetamine. Naturally I declined the opportunity. From my readings, these drugs can help people with poor attention, but do not help those who already have good attention. The side-effects can be undesirable; they are amphetamines and can over-stimulate the heart, cause high BP etc - I know at least one person who had to stop taking them due to resulting heart problems.

I like green tea because it stimulates but calms at the same time. None of that edgy wired feeling that I get with coffee.

The problem with beta-blockers, according to those who have tried them and reported the results to me, is that they produce a flattening of one's emotional state such that life becomes drab and dreary and seems rather pointless. It might be useful at selected times of high stress. Alpha blockers could be another option here.

I find Creatine (~3g/day) is very useful as a concentration aid and to avoid mental fatigue. Weightlifters take it (up to 20g/day) to improve muscle endurance, so they can do more and longer 'sets' with heavier weights, but Creatine is also good brain food. <caveat - see your doctor before taking anything>

The biggest wins for me are not pharmacological:

There is a fair bit of research that suggests that having a nap at lunch time (25 minutes, no more) can be very useful in allowing good concentration in the afternoon. For example, taking a nap was one thing that distinguished young concert violinists who made it to solo performer status from those who ended up as music teachers. The nap allowed them to have two really hard practice sessions a day.

Some people also report good benefits from a short nap at around 6pm, though it did not work for me.

Also I participate in an Ed Seykota style trading tribe which is the biggest win in my life over the past 5 years.

The only thing that comes close is the astonishing power of having written goals and a written plan. I can't believe how much difference these two simple things make.

Demon

Post by Demon » Wed Dec 14, 2011 10:49 am

I seem to remember a story about a trader at SAC Capital who was convinced by management to take female hormones in an effort to calm his temper. He ended up leaving the company as he kept bursting into tears over the slightest thing, but I think the final straw was when he began to grow a pair of breasts! In the end I think he sued them.

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Post by AFJ Garner » Wed Dec 14, 2011 1:35 pm

I have spent many years practicing meditation and self hypnosis and it has certainly greatly helped to give me perspective and self awareness. It has been of great benefit. But if I feel low, the real antidote is the huge burst of chemicals following an hour and a half in the gym. We are our bodies, we are our chemicals. Intellectually, I realize that the glum feelings the market often brings about at times like these is not so rational in the grand scheme of things but emotionally, it is still like being at the receiving end of repeated blows from a sledgehammer.

Research on drugs to control "accide" have made no progress over the past 20 o 30 years. Tests have suggested the likes of Prozac are of little more effect than a placebo. I would not touch alcohol or recreational drugs but if, as Dean was suggesting, there was a cure for the listless, slothful acedia which so often sets in at these troubled times I would willingly and unashamedly try it out!

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Post by stopsareforwimps » Wed Dec 14, 2011 6:10 pm

AFJ Garner wrote:an hour and a half in the gym. We are our bodies
I'll second that. I recently discovered weightlifting. Really good if done right.

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Post by Moto moto » Thu Dec 15, 2011 5:26 am

AFJ Garner wrote: there was a cure for the listless, slothful acedia which so often sets in at these troubled times I would willingly and unashamedly try it out!
try a walk in the park on a sunny day, a long slow lazy lunch with friends, a visit to an animal sanctuary......or if these fail try bungee jumping, parachuting, car racing. Otherwise if symptoms prevail seek professional advice.

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Post by DPH » Thu Dec 15, 2011 7:21 am

I feel the comments here thus far (except AFJ’s) are giving this topic short shrift and lack of serious consideration. Maybe the problem is that this subject is too personal for a forum. There also seems to be a sort of stigma attached to those that use any form of “therapeuticâ€

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Post by Moto moto » Thu Dec 15, 2011 9:39 am

DPH wrote: Let’s play what if for a moment…….Assume a trusted friend and trader much more successful than you came to you one day, and told you that things took off for him only after optimizing his moods and emotions through a combination of holistic and chemical therapy or tweaking. Would you consider trying the same?
No.....in much the same way as you think others are giving it short shrift, the same others in the thread are giving their PERSONAL opinion, and every one is different here. So talking the walks in the park and thinking about things PRIOR to taking drugs as a quick fix solution is their suggestion. I also thought in those market wizards books there where some traders who would give up some of their performance for a thrill/ego boost of a better golf handicap.

I dont think you would find any reputable professional therapist/analyst/doctor who would recommend drugs as the first port of call without actually diagnosing a problem - if a problem even exists.
This is the problem with drugs and the quick fix.....there are not many side effects to fixing the problems as opposed to masking them over.

Trying the same chemical therapy as someone else is maybe something to look forward to in the age care retirement village when you are ready to check out.

(I dont mean to argue, but while I dont think drugs are for the weak....they should not be the first port of call, just because some one else is taking them - your trader friend might just be a bull in a bull market. Equally so you dont want to take the Steve Jobs approach of ignoring therapies. :) )

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Post by AFJ Garner » Thu Dec 15, 2011 10:22 am

I have a lifelong experience in these matters and for the past 20 years I have given the topic endless, detailed consideration. I am highly self aware and all too well read in the whole topic. While "spirituality" is of great importance to me, my life long search for answers to life's most important questions has very much veered towards the scientific interpretation in recent years. My belief is that we are merely the sum of our parts; I very much doubt the existence of a soul. I now have the ability to view myself and my actions, thoughts and emotions dispassionately and from a distance - almost as an outsider I can criticize, ponder and attempt to alter my behaviour, my emotions, my actions. I have developed a great understanding of the way my mind and body work and some considerable measure of control.

My interest is not so much in trading in this respect as in life generally. I have come to firm and important conclusions on how life should be lead and while I am all too prone to backslide, my conclusions will be found in any half decent religion, East or West.

I am aware however that my physical engine has elements which I would like to alter for the better. I would have no hesitation in taking therapeutic drugs to correct the problems. As many will be aware however, there has been very little advance in this aspect of medicine over the past 20 years. Clinical tests of serotonin re-uptake inhibitors have found very little difference between the drug and a placebo.

I am relatively well off despite a ghastly year’s trading and the MFGI scandal and yet my glass has tended to look half empty recently, not half full. I am intellectually only too well aware that I am fortunate, reasonably bright, well educated and healthy as well. And yet at times like these I can take no solace from such realisation. I know well that markets will not remain ever un-conducive to my trading and also that much luck is attached to how well one’s systems have performed this year. I know how hard I have worked on my trading over the years and that it will pay off again in the future.


And yet…………………


So we shrug, battle on, look for better times, count our blessings and try to smile through adversity. And we should always be aware that those who have or claim to have achieved enlightenment have normally done so only by abandoning the world and often their wives, children and family to go and seek the absolute under a bodhi tree. Much as this route tempts me on occasions, I fear my duty to family keeps me firmly in front of my screen in my office.

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Post by 7432 » Thu Dec 15, 2011 9:42 pm

my experience from 15 years on the floor is the successful traders didn't bother with drugs. the interest in performance enhancing drugs usually seemed to be the poor traders reaching out for something to help them compete.
most of the people I knew of using some form of drugs during the day were usually gone within the year.

some of those very profitable traders did drink very heavily on weekends. that could be considered drug use to cut down on stress and maybe should be included.

in my current life, I see people buying vitamins, vitamin water, red bull type drinks, using alcohol, weed, or prescription drugs in an attempt to make their life better. from that anecdotal data I would guess if you put an ad on some day trading website about performance enhancing drugs you'd move some product.

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Post by JL25 » Thu Dec 15, 2011 10:54 pm

' ...and yet my glass has tended to look half empty recently, not half full. I am intellectually only too well aware that I am fortunate, reasonably bright, well educated and healthy as well. And yet at times like these I can take no solace from such realisation. '
AFJ-- I can so relate to all these feelings. I can only echo those who have suggested exercise, as running full court basketball for an hour seems to change my brain chemistry. Also, writing out a gratitude list and taking some action to help someone..ironically seems to help me more. So, I know from experience that these actions will help pull me out of a funk and change my perspective. The challenge for me is getting myself to take the action, at the exact time I am least motivated to do so.

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Post by DPH » Thu Dec 15, 2011 11:27 pm

Clearly this is the wrong forum for this discussion. The typical superficial responses abound. Yes, I agree that the “weed smokinâ€

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Post by Moto moto » Fri Dec 16, 2011 3:52 am

take a chill pill
given the professionals in the drug/pharmaceutical/enforcement world can't agree on a lot of things in this field....what were you expecting on a trading site DPH..... ?

most people will agree that taking something that can help AFTER exhausting other avenues that might fix the problem is worthwhile, it all depends on how far and quickly you exhaust the other avenues. This is clearly all a matter of personal opinion and experience.....which is what the original poster asked.

Depression...which is seemingly more what this thread is more about - and not drugs - is a serious issue and professional help should be sought....and interestingly enough, often all the meditation, drugs and past life experiences are not enough to combat the black dog when it comes around.

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Post by trackstar » Fri Dec 16, 2011 11:36 am

[quote="DPH"]Clearly this is the wrong forum for this discussion. The typical superficial responses abound. Yes, I agree that the “weed smokinâ€

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