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Abuse of Painkillers, Illegal Drugs Growing in Silicon Valley

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In the high-stress environment of Silicon Valley, a growing number of high-tech workers are abusing painkillers and illegal drugs such as cocaine and heroin, according to the San Jose Mercury News.

The issue of drug abuse among high-tech workers received intense media attention after Google executive Forrest Timothy Hayes died last year after being injected with a fatal dose of heroin aboard his yacht. A prostitute was arrested and charged with administering the injection.

“I’ve had them from Apple, from Twitter, from Facebook, from Google, from Yahoo, and it’s bad out there,” said Miami-based addictions coach Cali Estes, who says she has helped 200 tech workers. They are using prescription drugs such as oxycodone and Adderall, as well as cocaine and heroin, she says.

“And it’s a lot worse than what people think because it’s all covered up so well,” Estes told the newspaper. “If it gets out that a company’s employees are doing drugs, it paints a horrible picture.”

“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,” said 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.”

Many tech companies do not conduct drug testing on employees, Albrecht says. “They want the results, but they don’t want to know how their employees got the results.” Most large tech firms offer counseling, but many employees don’t want to use the services because of privacy concerns.

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