Drugs, Morals, and the Very Wealthy

At first, it sounded as if this was just another article about drug abuse among the poor, another piece that would be laced with moral overtones about a failed culture and “cycles” of depravity.

“illicit drugs and black-market painkillers have become part of the landscape”

“struggling with everything from cocaine and heroin to painkillers such as oxycodone and stimulants such as Adderall, a prescription drug used to treat attention-deficit disorders”

But no:

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

It turns out that there’s a thriving drug culture in the Silicon Valley, reported not with moral judgment but with implied empathy as the article can’t mention substance abuse without also speaking of wealth, innovation, highly competitive work environments and stress.

And this version of  drug culture is deliberately hidden, as companies choose not to do drug testing, workers avoid services available to them for fear of detection, as doctors  rather than street dealers are suppliers, and  there’s not a *single* mention of law enforcement anywhere in the picture until a Google exec died of a heroin overdose  administered by a prostitute on a yacht.

One person working with a new sobriety center explains

“If your life is spinning out of control and is highly charged with stress, you may believe you can take control by self-medicating, but that’s a delusion”.

So if I’m understanding, if stress is rooted in competing for the next patent, the next stock option, the start-up that will be bought for millions, it’s understandable, not illegal, and abusers deserve anonymity.

But if the stress is rooted in high unemployment, dangerous neighborhoods, having only terrible schools available for your children, or the indignities of social service agencies, dealing and using drugs is a moral and legal issue, signs of the inherent moral weakness of a culture of poverty and in fact a cause of persistent poverty.

Of course most silicon valley workers aren’t abusing drugs.

The point would be that even those who illegally abusing drugs are are still wealthy, thriving, and respected.  And protected.

They’re not in prison.

There is no “war” on them.

And they earn empathy.

Because you know, life can be so stressful.


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