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How Big Is Silicon Valley’s Drug Problem?

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Silicon Valley used to be known for its tech-driven workforce and an abundance of startup culture. As of late though, it seems Silicon Valley is making more news for its drug culture.

Google exec’s death sparks important conversations

The death of Forrest Hayes, a Google executive who died of a heroin overdose last November, shined a spotlight on what appears to be a growing and concerning trend in tech-centric Silicon Valley.

San Jose Mercury News recently published a story on the subject. In it, they interviewed Cali Estes, an addiction coach out of Miami who specializes in the tech sector, helping some 200 professionals from some of the industry’s top brands. “I’ve had them from Apple, from Twitter, from Facebook, from Google, from Yahoo, and it’s bad out there,” says Estes. “And it’s a lot worse than what people think because it’s all covered up so well. If it gets out that a company’s employees are doing drugs, it paints a horrible picture.”

Fueling the culture

Some addiction experts suggest that the combination of newly acquired wealth, pressure to succeed, and fierce competition in Silicon Valley combine to create a stress-laden, production-driven environment ideal for a drug marketplace.

Worse still, some say that the drug culture is all but encouraged by the higher-ups. Steve Albrecht, a substance abuse consultant in San Diego, says that those in charge essentially turn a blind eye to substance abuse. “There’s this workaholism in the valley,” said Albrecht to Mercury News. “The ability to work on crash projects at tremendous rates of speed is almost a badge of honor.” Like Estes, he also said that the problem intensifies because companies don’t do anything about it. Management teams are strictly interested in results, and look the other way if they happened to be achieved by those using drugs. “These workers stay up for days and days, and many of them gradually get into meth and coke to keep going.”

Breaking the mold and overcoming addiction

Addiction is a powerful disease, but when it’s part of a community that not only accepts it but also encourages it, it become particularly dangerous. In the case of Google executive Forrest Hayes, abusing drugs led to keeping company with the wrong kinds of people, and ultimately cost him his life.

Whether you’re part of a work environment that trigger drug use, or just surrounded by a circle of substance abusers, one of the first steps to recovering from addiction is to find a new set of  supports. Lean on family and friends that care about your well-being. Make friends with people who are also in recovery from drugs and alcohol. And get the help you need. If you are ready to talk about your addiction, or if you’re seeking help for a loved one who is, The Watershed can help. Call us: 1-800-861-1768.

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