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Suddenly Visible: Illicit Drugs As Part of Silicon Valley Culture 511

Posted by timothy
from the roland-hedley-jr-is-on-the-case dept.
The recent death by overdose of Google executive Timothy Hayes has drawn attention to the phenomenon of illegal drug use (including abuse of prescription painkillers) among technology workers and executives in high-pay, high-stress Silicon Valley. The Mercury News takes a look at the phenomenon; do the descriptions of freely passed cocaine, Red Bull as a gateway drug, and complacent managers match your own workplace experiences? From the Mercury News article: "There's this workaholism in the valley, where the ability to work on crash projects at tremendous rates of speed is almost a badge of honor," says Steve Albrecht, a San Diego consultant who teaches substance abuse awareness for Bay Area employers. "These workers stay up for days and days, and many of them gradually get into meth and coke to keep going. Red Bull and coffee only gets them so far." ... Drug abuse in the tech industry is growing against the backdrop of a national surge in heroin and prescription pain-pill abuse. Treatment specialists say the over-prescribing of painkillers, like the opioid hydrocodone, has spawned a new crop of addicts -- working professionals with college degrees, a description that fits many of the thousands of workers in corporate Silicon Valley. Increasingly, experts see painkillers as the gateway drug for addicts, and they are in abundance. "There are 1.4 million prescriptions ... in the Bay Area for hydrocodone," says Alice Gleghorn with the San Francisco Department of Public Health. "That's a lot of pills out there."
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Suddenly Visible: Illicit Drugs As Part of Silicon Valley Culture

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  • Re:Red Bull (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 28, 2014 @07:19AM (#47548809)

    Did you seriously just call Red Bull a gateway drug?

    Tim Lord, you're a moron. Stop posting stories, this isn't your personal blog. And no, writing them and then having Roblimo or another slashdot editor post the stories doesn't make it any better. Just stop, we don't want your thoughts.

    He didn't call Red Bull a gateway drug, the article(s) did and he paraphrased to ask if anyone else's work environment treats Red Bull as a 'gateway drug.' It might be interesting to note, as we're all aware, that Red Bull is most commonly not treated as a gateway drug. If you arrive new on the job and a sage elder looks at you drinking a Red Bull and says "I remember when that sufficed but give it time and you'll be on the hard stuff like the rest of us ..." *taps his nose* then it might be considered a gateway drug.

  • Re:Dragnet (Score:5, Informative)

    by Skater (41976) on Monday July 28, 2014 @07:37AM (#47548891) Homepage Journal
    That was Airplane!
  • by swb (14022) on Monday July 28, 2014 @08:38AM (#47549319)

    I had a bad accident which resulted in 2/3rds of my left ring finger getting amputated and the end joint on my middle finger getting fused. Needless to say, I was on a lot of painkillers. 40 mg oxycodone per day for about two weeks, which gradually tapered down to about 5 mg as needed, which amounted to about 5-10 mg a day for maybe 4 months.

    Like you, I got kind of tired of the large doses after a while. They made me feel kind of sluggish and lazy. Even when I had tapered down I really kind of resisted taking a second 5 mg dose in one day unless I felt there was a compelling need. It seemed to be more bad side effects and less good value.

    I eventually ended up mostly taking a single dose in the morning; for some reason my hand hurt worst in the morning and even if it didn't, not dosing in the morning usually meant my hand hurt worse than normal by mid-day and it was harder to recover (more meds, more time) once it got painful.

    Like you, that single dose in the morning seemed to have a kind of calming focus. I'm also a huge coffee drinker, so I would imagine the combination was the key. But I never really wanted another dose during the day. I couldn't recapture the effect from the morning. I just got sluggish.

    Unlike you I took them all, probably past where I had a hard-core need, but when they were gone -- zero sense of any withdrawal symptoms. Nothing. My sense is that addiction requires big doses that keep your level up nearly 24 hours a day for weeks. Tiny doses, like 5 mg, once a day probably just can't produce a true physical dependence because you go "dry" after about 8 hours.

    I'd probably keep taking them if I had them, but only once a day, and that may be the difference. People who get addicted don't have that "it doesn't work so well in the afternoon" effect; for them it works every time and they really notice it when it stops. I just had no interest in more, it worked against me.

  • Re:Red Bull (Score:3, Informative)

    by SplatMan_DK (1035528) on Monday July 28, 2014 @08:59AM (#47549489) Homepage Journal

    There is no Taurine [wikipedia.org] in bananas or coffee.

    If people want to pay for beverages with extract from animal tissue or synthetics produced from cyclic ether who are we to argue? ;-)

  • Re: Red Bull (Score:5, Informative)

    by larry (3749787) on Monday July 28, 2014 @09:36AM (#47549793)
    feel the same way about marijuana. the real gateway drug is liquor. i know so many people who were partying on liquor and were talked into cocaine.
  • by wonkey_monkey (2592601) on Monday July 28, 2014 @10:06AM (#47550027) Homepage

    Is it illegal to abuse legally obtained drugs?

    Um.... Yeah, it is.

    Taking it in any way that is contrary to the written prescription is illegal.

    As another user asked above, can you cite the law that would be broken?

    http://www.cdc.gov/homeandrecr... [cdc.gov]

    The above page, for example, discusess "seven state legislative strategies that have potential to impact prescription drug misuse, abuse and overdose," but none of these are about what the patient may do with medication.

  • by MooseTick (895855) on Monday July 28, 2014 @12:55PM (#47551347) Homepage

    According to the CDC (http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/health_effects/tobacco_related_mortality/) there are "More than 480,000 deaths annually " related to cigarettes and (http://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/fact-sheets/alcohol-use.htm) "approximately 88,000 deaths attributable to excessive alcohol use each year in the United States"

    In 2011, the CDC says (http://www.cdc.gov/homeandrecreationalsafety/overdose/facts.html) "33,071 (80%) of the 41,340 drug overdose deaths in the United States were unintentional"

    So ciggs+alcohol deaths ~ 570,000 deaths per year
    Accidental drug overdose ~ 33,000 deaths per year

    Now which should be legal and/or a greater concern to society at large? Which likey have a greater economic cost to society? Which has a greater overall impact?

    I'm not saying hard drugs aren't bad, but perhaps we should concentrate on what is causing the most damage first.

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