With one out of 10 people consuming illicit drugs, it is highly likely some of your clients are at least occasionally smoking up, popping pills or getting high one way or another. Even rare drug use has potential for legal, medical and financial complications. Should financial advisors ask their clients about drug consumption? And what — if anything — should an advisor do if they find out a client is abusing substances like marijuana, cocaine, opioids or others?
WE CAN’T LIVE OUR CLIENTS’ LIVES
Just like we can’t command clients to not waste money, it’s also not our place to tell them not to use drugs. In my practice, I don’t specifically ask about illicit drug use, especially early in the relationship. Most people don’t use drugs and even fewer have serious problems with drug use where they might need an intervention. I don’t want to go there unless I see a need to address the situation.
What do I do when I identify an issue? There are a number of ways drug use may come up, and when it does, I grab the opportunity to discuss it.
LEGAL RECREATIONAL USE
I’ve had a couple of clients share that while they are visiting Amsterdam or Colorado, they plan to enjoy some legal marijuana. Since legal recreational marijuana use has little risk, I don’t worry. But if they work for an employer who may test for drug use, I humorously remind them to not let their employer find out. Although recreational marijuana is now legal in eight states and the District of Columbia, it is still illegal on a federal level and employers can hold a failed drug test against workers or job applicants.
ILLEGAL DRUG USE
Clients most likely will not bring up the fact they are using illegal drugs. In