Category Archives: Information

The Wolves of Silicon Valley

Keyboard Blur

 

I had a dream last night that I was at an airport, leaving to go on a week-long vacation (to Italy, of course!)  and was trying to figure out a way to inform you, Faithful Blog Reader, that you wouldn’t be seeing any  new posts while I was gone, and upon waking, I decided that this is my sub-conscious’ way of letting me  know:

 A). That the blog has become so important to me I’m now dreaming about it, and

2). That it’s been a while since I’ve posted anything new (or perhaps, just anything interesting :-P ), and I’d better get on it!

So today, I return to a topic that’s already been covered here but which continues to fascinate me in the way that it grows in ever-surprising, ever-disturbing, and seemingly unlikely ways.

Such as: How college-educated, mostly white, often male, middle to upper middle class, young-to-middle-aged urban professional, casual drug users – i.e. people who “should know better” – graduate from using a little of this or a little of that to help them keep up with their overwhelming workloads or wind down from them into abusing harder, cheaper, and illegal drugs, and often in seemingly innocuous milieus…such as the IT-laden land of tech industry behemoths running their shows in Silicon Valley, California.

In other words, this is not your father’s heroin addict.

A most recent case in point – the Google executive, a married father of five children who brought a “high-class” call girl aboard his yacht in Santa Cruz, CA for a little afternoon delight and ended up injected with a lethal dose of heroin and left to die alone  - wasn’t an anomaly, according this this article featured in San Jose Mercury News (which, I’m happy to note, also contains a quote from an interview with LifeRing’s own Byron Kerr).

It’s apparently just one among the many potential fates waiting to befall his peers coping with high-stress, high-income careers in the IT industry, where the supply-and-demand ratio means one can barely keep one’s head above water on a good day without a pharmaceutical booster (or 12). It reminds me a great deal of the stockbrokers working in Jordan Belfort’s 80′s shady stocks firm as depicted in Martin Scorsese’s 2013 film, “The Wolf of Wall Street”.

Anyone unfortunate enough to have seen the movie (what can I say? I love Scorsese, just not this time) likely knows what I’m getting at. I can just imagine the same non-stop, debauched hookers and blowfest as depicted in “Wolf…” going on behind the closed doors of every tech company in the Valley, from the start-ups to the giants (Apple, Facebook, Google, Amazon, etc. etc. etc.), and beyond, where it’s not just a job, it’s an adventure! And everyone’s in on it.

Talk about a weird, scary new facet in American life. Is this really what it takes to make it in the tech industry, or is it just another, updated permutation of the drug culture tinged with hysteria and “Wolf”-like hyperbole?

One gets the sense from the Mercury News article’s comments section it’s long been the former becoming newly hyped by as the latter, and the utter lack of compassion I’ve seen from commenters across the board on multiple web stories about the deceased Google executive, which amounts to “he chose to take the heroin, therefore he chose to die, and good riddance to bad rubbish”, leaves me feeling defeated and cold.

Whatever the hell is going on, I don’t know about you, but I don’t find myself particularly reassured, after all the years we’ve been talking about drugs, alcohol and addiction, this distorted perception that it’s all just a “choice” is as far as we’ve gotten.

And on that light and airy note, I wish you all a happy, healthy and good day, and would love to hear some feedback from any of you who have any thoughts about any of this, as well!

 

Sobriety, dual diagnosis, and personal OTC self-help

First, I want to make clear that this is just about my personal experiences, since Lifering is about personalized, individualized, self-empowerment, or self-help.

That said, let’s jump into what’s on my mind.

A fair percentage of people who eventually have addictive problems to drugs or alcohol are “dual diagnosis.” That is, they have some mental health issue connected with their addiction. Often it’s depression. Often it’s anxiety. Sometimes it’s bipolar disorder, occasionally schizophrenia.

For people that have “simple” depression or anxiety, and have been to a doctor before, for lower-level depression or anxiety, it’s tempting to self-medicate with over-the-counter items. For example, it’s a “commonplace” that Benadryl can help mild anxiety. Many people use St. John’s wort for mild depression. Beyond that, over-the-counter versions of lithium compounds, somewhat similar to, but not the same as, the prescription versions, are available. And more.

But, even over-the-counter medications aren’t risk free.

For example, prescription lithium has a narrow range of dosages. The non-prescription versions are presumably similar.

With St. John’s wort, there are studies indicating it can help with some cases of mild-moderate depression. There’s no “magic secret” as to why, though. The active ingredient is an MAO inhibitor, just like the first class of anti-depressant medications. Given that prescription MAO inhibitors come with certain warnings, like not combining them with aged cheeses, something similar might apply to St. John’s worth.

And, there’s the placebo effect. A lot of people swear by GABA, a natural neurotransmitter, to help with anxiety. However, GABA does not cross what’s known as the blood-brain barrier, therefore people are presumably just talking about a placebo effect.

Also, just as a prescription anti-depressant that works for one person might not work well for another, the same is true of these OTC self-helps.

A Lifering friend mentioned his doctor suggested he take a new OTC medication, which is GABA chemically linked to niacin, the B vitamin. He said it helped totally kill alcohol cravings, as well as some anxiety.

I decided to order it myself; it’s readily available online.

Well, my “sample size date” is only 10 days so far, but, I may discontinue it after another week.

While it’s not quite making me MORE anxious, I have had trouble falling asleep since then. I’ve had a couple of issues in my mind, but, this may be a contributing factor.

For me, the one time I went to a doctor with even more serious anxiety, it was anti-depressants that helped.

There’s nothing wrong with a prescription from a doctor, and there’s nothing magical about over-the-counter items. It never hurts to get professional advice.

3 New LifeRing Meetings Now Available!

 

 

 

My Tribe

 

 

**08/17/2014 Update**

Please note: The LifeRing Asia Skype Meeting has a new time – Sundays, 10:00 AM Bangkok, Thailand time, Saturdays, 8:00 PM California/Pacific Time). This is 2 hours earlier than the original meeting time, an effort to accommodate more participants.

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LifeRing is pleased to announce 3 new meetings now up, running and available to anyone who wants to get clean and/or sober, and to find their tribe  - one in Connecticut, one in Massachusetts, and one based in Asia via Skype.

Craig W., member of LifeRing’s Board of Directors, says “All meetings represent great progress in expanding our reach,” and we look forward to their success and growth!

The information for each new meeting can be found below; the information for all of LifeRing’s meetings can be found here:

Greenwich, Connecticut Meeting

When: Mondays at 7:30 PM

Where: Greenwich Hospital, 5 Perryridge Road, Greenwich, CT 06830

Convenor: Cindy K.

Contact Information: E-mail: crkemp26@gmail.com Phone: (772) 205-1289

 

Belmont, Massachusetts Meeting

When: Fridays, 6:00 – 7:00 PM – first meeting tonight, July 18th!

Where: McLean Hospital, DeMarneffe Cafeteria Building Room 117, 115 Mill Street, Belmont, MA 02478

Convenor: Allen B.

Contact Information: allenboyerboi@gmail.com

 

LifeRing Asia

When: Sundays, 12:00 Noon Bangkok, Thailand time (Saturdays, 10:00 PM California/Pacific Time)

Where: via Skype; add Skype ID liferingasia to your list of Skype Contacts

Convenor/Contact Information: Per LifeRing Asia’s website - “We are looking for conveners to help run meetings and we want to add meetings with times that fit your needs. Feel free to contact us. liferingasia@gmail.com”

 

Congratulations to all meeting convenors and future members – we wish you the very best!

 

 

Smile! And Donate to LifeRing!

It recently came to our attention that Amazon.com has created a special feature whereby, when you log in to Amazon Smile! – which features all the same products, prices and services as the regular Amazon site – 0.5% of the price of any purchase you make will be donated to your charity of choice, and a still fledgling organization like LifeRing would be deeply honored and grateful to be that charity.

Here is a “How To” set this up in 4 easy steps – and please, don’t forget Step 4!

Step 1: Go to https://smile.amazon.com/ and log in using your current/usual Amazon account log in (or, create an account if you’re a new Amazon user):

Amazon Smile 6

 

Step 2: Select LifeRing as your chosen charity by typing it into the “Or pick your own charitable organization” box at the bottom of the next screen, and then click on the Search button:

Amazon Smile 1

Step 3: The following box with LifeRing’s information should appear; click on the Select button:

Amazon Smile 2

Step 4: Voila! You’re almost done and ready to shop, but this is the most important step you don’t want to skip.

You must enter and shop through the smile.amazon.com address or no donations will be made, so an easy way to do that is to install Amazon Smile’s one-click button (or a bookmark) on your preferred web browser to quickly get to the site (note: this option should come up automatically for you, but we’re still showing it here in case you need a quick link to get back to it).

Go to the following web address, and follow the simple instructions: http://www.amazon.com/gp/feature.html?ref_=pe_830720_114782360_smi_em_wel_1btn_bitapp&docId=1002402211&pldnSite=1

Amazon Smile 4

Thank you, thank you, and thank you again!

 

Pain Killers

Opiate addiction What can one say about the painkiller epidemic in this country? One has the sense that it’s really  not all media-driven hysterics, that there’s something to it based on their own anecdotal evidence. It’s  been reported (although never confirmed), for example, that pain medication was the initial downfall of gifted actor Philip Seymour Hoffman. After a glorious 20+ years of being clean and sober, he had some  sort of painful injury and started taking medically prescribed opiates, and then, like a lot of others when  the addiction embers were burning but the fuel supply ran out, turned around and poured gasoline on the  whole damned thing when he got back on heroin. We know the rest of his tragic story.

I have members of my own family who’ve struggled with opiate addiction, one of whom was spending hundreds of dollars a month they didn’t have to buy the pills on the street they couldn’t get from any more of their physicians, and one who, like too many others, turned to heroin at a certain point because it’s far cheaper, easier to get and does a masterful job. Several friends of mine have seen the same things happening to their family members, some of whom are still using. Others are mercifully clean. One young woman, barely into her 20′s and full of the promise of a life well-lived, is no longer with us, her bewildered loved ones left behind with longed for memories of better days mingling with interminable grief.

A lot of people felt it seemed ridiculous to be so upset over Hoffman’s overdose death in light of the fact that he was just one of many who’d suffered the same fate, but then again, just as many of them thought he’d made the “choice” to end up the way he did, so hey – he got what he wanted/asked for.

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