Drug Use in Silicon Valley: Dysfunctional Fused Drug and Work Cultures

Silicon Valley is frequently associated with technology, the internet and riches. It is the birthplace of Facebook, Apple and Google. Peeling back the veil of technical progress reveals a culture of drugs and excess that all too frequently leads to drug addiction and overdose.

There are no precise figures for the number of techie drug users. However, experts believe the problem is growing due to a potent combination of newly acquired wealth, intense competition among companies and their employees, the deadline pressure of one product launch after another, and a robust regional black market drug pipeline.

Forrest Hayes, a Google executive, died of a heroin overdose on a yacht in Santa Cruz in 2013. His overdose highlighted a more significant issue in the computer business and throughout Silicon Valley. It also sparked the inquiry, "Why?" Why is there such a lack of awareness and concern in our culture regarding the long-term health repercussions of drug use, misuse and addiction?

Workplace stress and exhaustion might be the main culprits. In today’s highly competitive climate, executives, entrepreneurs, and those wanting to be either must "put in their time." Burnout is a regular occurrence because of long workdays and insufficient sleep.

It’s easy to drink or use a stimulant like Adderall if you don't have adequate coping methods. As a result, they can frequently complete work, impress their supervisor, and even obtain the desired promotion. It’s a never-ending loop that may lead to devastating harm, if not death.

Drug abuse has a long history in the information technology business. Several corporate heavyweights, ranging from Sean Parker to Steve Jobs to Bill Gates to Elon Musk, have spoken openly about their drug use. Apple, Yahoo, and other Silicon Valley technological behemoths such as Google and Facebook have all publicly said that they have severe drug-use rules in place but have released no details. This covertness is considerably more significant than before, since many digital startups now supply everything from keg coolers to whiskey nights.

Combining business with pleasure may appear to be a futile endeavor. There is a belief that cocaine and methamphetamine are suited to the Valley’s technological and entrepreneurial mentality—long workdays with severe competition and the constant desire to innovate. An increasing percentage of millennials in Silicon Valley claim that having trace doses of psychedelic drugs boosts productivity. “Micro-dosing,” as the word indicates, is the practice of taking a minimal amount regularly of LSD or psilocybin from magic mushrooms.

High-stress jobs that come with high-stress repercussions may contribute to Silicon Valley’s drug culture. Workers in the information technology industry must stay awake for days and rely on substances to maintain their excessively high production rates. In a culture where profit and risk are prevalent themes, drug misuse appears to be a ubiquitous method of coping.

Dr. Jennifer Fernandez, a clinical psychologist in the Bay Area who has witnessed a surge in stimulant use among her clients, feels that “work culture,” or the unsustainable culture of energy and attention, is a risk factor for substance abuse. Fernandez believes that because these people are exhausted and incapable of coping, they have recourse to drinking alcohol or snorting Adderall as a short fix. Doing so will keep them up for another 12 hours trying to complete an app, impress their boss, receive a promotion and earn more money.

Dr. Cali Estes, top addiction therapist and life coach, explains that Hayes’ actions were not unusual among his contemporaries; he was far from alone. The gruesome incident portrayed an ugly image and sparked concerns about whether the strain of the company’s high-risk, high-reward culture might eventually be too much for some, as seen by the horrible account.

Estes contends that professionals, who are frequently motivated with a type-A personality, have a propensity for overconsumption, hedonism and drug use, and the degree to which they pursue such aims is equivalent to the rate at which they seek success in their occupations. A detailed investigation of modern drug culture in business offers a far more complicated picture than the one revealed by the Hayes incident.

Many of today’s top technocrats did not start out abusing drugs. Estes says many people in the tech sector were excellent students. They did not dabble with drugs or alcohol while in school; they studied hard when other students were lazy. They put in the time and effort required to get the grades and degrees that compartmentalized them from their peers. But now, as successful adults, they have possession of a boat, a home, a job and an automobile and they’ve become bored.

After a few years, they’ve gotten the lifestyle they’ve always wanted. They’ve attained their goals, and boredom sets in. Bored individuals are more likely to "seek new experiences" or "attempt new hobbies." This exploration is proving to be dangerous. These people have had the white picket fence for a long time. Thus, the notion is that boredom ignites exploration and experimentation—in this case, substance use.

Some analysts attribute the drug problem to a culture of fierce competition, increased affluence and sloppy drug-testing procedures at firms throughout the information technology sector. Pain relievers and Adderall are popular drugs among people with substance use disorder. Investors and employers, according to a Business Insider report, are primarily concerned with the bottom line. In many instances, IT personnel do not debate about how the bottom line is obtained.

Silicon Valley has had a long history of having a thriving drug culture. Unfortunately, what starts as a harmless experiment often turns into a life-threatening addiction and relapse problems. Like any other person in the United States dealing with substance use disorder, people in the Valley need to seek help to treat their addictions. To remain safe and live longer lives to enjoy the fruits of their hard work, they must learn better ways to cope with life and the demands of their jobs. That’s why luxury detox centers and top-rated rehabs like Wish Recovery take time to assess and understand each patient’s individual needs to provide personalized care and treatment.

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