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Square Inc. Co-Founder Tristan O’Tierney Dies at 35 (bloomberg.com)
457 points by smaili 50 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 227 comments

Sorry to see this. My last year of college, with absolutely zero experience in tech I tried to build a fintech startup that needed seamless processing of micro-payments and so I pinged Tristan in the early days of Square's beta program when they were just shipping out card readers asking if they might expose an API in the near future. Small interaction, but he got back to me and coming from the Midwest, that was my first experience with how open Silicon Valley can be, with a co-founder at one of the hottest startups taking the time to respond to some random college kid interested in kicking the tires on his project. My project went nowhere but I had fun exploring the tech involved, decided to learn to code, made it out here and am now running a venture-backed startup after a couple engineering jobs. I thought just the fact that he responded was really cool at the time and try not to blow off cold emails like that as a result.

I went to high school with him. That's how he was with me as well when I randomly said to him one day, "Hey you seem better at this computer programming thing than me. Let's hang out." I too credit Tristan with helping me transition from computer programmer novice to computer programmer professional.

Last year, at age 35, I started drinking heavily. I would buy a bottle of Absolute and would not stop till I see the bottom of it. 2 bottles a week at min. About 5-6 months, I've stopped drinking without anyone's help.

Yesterday and today, I'm having a strong urge to get completely wasted. Just go to the store around the block, buy bottle of Absolute.

Yesterday, while driving on I-695, I saw a guy with a child seat on the back seat and thought to myself: "I want that too".

Tristan O’Tierney dies at 35, survived by his three-old-year daughter.

There's an old Irish saying that goes "A man takes a drink, the drink takes a drink, the drink takes the man." If you have a drinking problem, you just need to avoid drinking period.

I have some close friends that have drinking problems and what I learned from their experiences:

1. If you're an alcoholic and think you can handle a single drink, you're lying to yourself. 2. It's honestly not worth it. Life is better than being stuck in a multi day binger. The physically effects are taxing on the body. 3. You'll always have those urges and that feeling of wanting to drink isn't as bad as the act of actually drinking and the damage the follows.

If you have those urges, attend AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) and refresh yourself on why you don't drink. I remember going out to dinner with a friend and the waiter knew my buddy. During the conversation he asked would I like something to drink. When I said no, he asked if I was a "friend of Bob". At first I had no clue what that meant and asked who was Bob. Later I found out he was referring to the founder of AA.

I personally don't drink around those that battle with drinking. I understand the struggle.

Stay sober. Reading about Tristan and it reminds me of all those people I lost as a child. I watched so many friends OD to heroin and other drugs.

One thing I'd put out there: AA is great if it works for you, but it's not the only game in town and can be hard to love. If it doesn't work for you, SMART and lifering are both popular and well-validated options.

Another AA alternative is Alan Carr's book "The Easy Way to Stop Drinking".

It's a logical approach to repositioning alcohol as a poison that somehow 90% of our population embraces as normal.

It's been mentioned below but I also recommend checking out the Sinclair Method using Naltrexone and CBT


99% (I'm saying this as a non-drinker who can count on one hand the number of other non-drinkers I know)

I agree it's not the only game in town for sure. One close friend actually has learned to replace his addiction with working out. There's certainly a strong correlation of Alcoholism and OCD.

Once in a while he'll have dreams of drinking or the urge to drink. Whatever works to keep you sober and healthy, go for it!

> 1. If you're an alcoholic and think you can handle a single drink, you're lying to yourself. 2. It's honestly not worth it. Life is better than being stuck in a multi day binger. The physically effects are taxing on the body. 3. You'll always have those urges and that feeling of wanting to drink isn't as bad as the act of actually drinking and the damage the follows.

Worth noting that #1 is AA dogma and is certainly not a medically proven thing. About 5% of people who go through AA eventually get sober, roughly the same as other treatment approaches (many of which skip the disease model of alcoholism entirely).

IMO, the AA notion that you are diseased for life unless you turn your life over to a higher power (which looks suspiciously like the personal god of Western Protestant Christianity) is poison.

There's so much I would like to say about this, but let me try not to let this get out of hand.

a. The people I know attend AA are not religious and they don't enjoy that aspect of AA. b. They refuse to take medication like Disulfiram (Antabuse) and rather deal with their addiction by attending meetings. c. I'm not sure if you are an actual alcoholic, it sounds like you're not, but I would advise you to be cautious about what you're saying here. If you deal with Alcoholism, there's no "final" cure. You are aware of that right?

People who deal with Alcoholism don't view their addiction as being "diseased" and AA doesn't suggest that as well. You might want to read the Big Book which is available online. I read it to understand what my friends actually deal with.

I'm not even sure what you mean by "disease model of alcoholism". It sounds like your knowledge is not only superficial, but poorly researched.

> If you deal with Alcoholism, there's no "final" cure.

This is precisely it. You fight it continuously and always assume you are going to mess things up even when you think you're 'finally' strong enough. Just being constantly paranoid about slipping back into old habits. It's no joke and there's no panacea.


This comment broke the site guidelines. We ban accounts that are repeatedly uncivil here. If you'd please review https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html and follow the rules in the future, regardless of how wrong someone is or you feel they are, we'd be grateful.

AA does not have a 5% success rate. This misconception comes from someone misreading an old confusingly labeled graph.

AA has, according to one study, a 67% success rate. The study saw that, of people who regularly went to AA, 67% were sober 16 years later:


Another study shows a 75% success rate, but it's behind a paywall:


AA is a religious organization, full stop. It's certainly not for everyone.

It certainly has it's roots in religion, but it is also effective. I have 2 friends that attend AA and both are atheists. One friend has been attending AA for nearly 35 years and the other 10 years. The latter friend did have a relapse after 6 months of not attending AA. So he now makes it a point to attend AA only to remind himself why he's sober.

In any case, it's not a bad starting point. If it doesn't work, I'm sure you'll find suggestions there for alternatives.

Yeah, he could also have issues with PTSD, Bipolar, Anxiety, Depression or other mental health issues where going to see a professional and getting medicated or going through therapy is far better than going to AA meetings and just hoping he'll figure it out.

I'm surprised you were able to function the next day with that amount. I recently turned 30, and I definitely cannot drink as much as I used to. I get an allergic response to alcohol, which really sucks because I used to enjoy it. There is a mutation in OPRM1 in certain populations that causes your opiate receptors (particularly mu subtype) to release endorphins when drinking. I've definitely had that happen to me when I used to drink heavily. But that changed when I took LSD-25. While I still drink, it is nowhere near the same level as when I was younger, and I attribute that to my psychedelic experiences. Stay strong.

You’d be surprised how much a person can routinely drink and still function. I grew up and now work in a high alcohol abuse area, and some of the folks that were abusing surprised me. Sadly, I’m sure when their body said enough it came as a surprise to them too.

Keep safe folks

I spent ages 19-26 essentially spending 100% of my free time 4-6 days a week inside bars.

At its worst (at 6 days/week), I was keeping changes of clothes at work, closing the bar, fooling around with someone for a few hours and then going back to work.

At 26 my drinking started to trail off severely and I had sort of a breakdown...moved somewhere else for a few years.

I don't really know what motivated me to drink like that or to stop. Luckily, I can drink socially without issue and I maybe have 1 or 2. Any drinking (socially) I do is maybe once or twice a month now and I don't spend any time in bars.

I have seen a lot of other peoples' lives ruined by drinking though. I'm lucky that the worst I have to deal with is some extra weight and an aversion to going out to drink. Like the parent post says, please keep safe.

It's important to say that the way of drinking is probably everything. No shots, avoiding sugary mixers, avoiding beer if possible (at least the cheaper ones), never mixing different alcohols (even the same type, but of different brands).

The worse you feel the next day after alcohol means the more significant damage you did to your body. If you feel fresh, it says that the damage was almost non-existent (besides liver, which, if you drink a lot of alcohol you should take care separately). Then drinking a lot of water before going to bed will help your body to clean from alcohol.

It's all about alcohol-drinking culture. In some countries drinking alcohol 2-4 times a week is normal (as long as you don't drink to get wasted). But I have seen places (for example Ireland), where drinking to get wasted is an ultimate goal 2-4 times a week. That's the problem imo. Better education and public awareness would help a lot.

Alcohol is a diurrhetic. The worse you feel the next day is entirely caused by dehydration. It has nothing to with what brands you drank and more to do with how dessicating your drinks are. Beer contains more water than liquor.

Drinking water doesn't "clean" you, it stops your kidneys from failing altogether.

You should always pound down water after heavy drinking. It's the only physiological cure for hangovers.

There are societies that drink a lot of alcohol and live long lives by following local "rules" about drinking. People in those societies live long lives.

So I disagree.

A good way to test it - do it yourself. You will see a noticeable difference. Go in the evening after the gym. Hydrate yourself through the day and you will see a huge difference in performance.

There is quite a lot of talk about it in sports/gym circles for many years.

The worse you feel the next day is entirely caused by dehydration

This is demonstrably untrue, and trvial to prove to oneself. A more significant contributor is GABA adaptation and up-regulation by the CNS.

I'm not downplaying dehydration as a factor, but to say it's the ONLY thing is ridiculous.

is there any evidence that mixing alcohols or drinking cheap booze is worse for you?

Try it, then try drinking only one type of better alcohol. Compare how you feel the next day. That should say a lot. It's rather common knowledge that is not proven scientifically.

There has been a lot of talk about it for years in many sport/gym related communities. Those people know how to observe their bodies and reaction.


This is super interesting, as someone with that mutation that gets extra sedated/euphoria from drinking and is predisposed to alcoholism, from a family tree full of alcoholics.

What do you think the lsd did to dampen the effects on opiate receptor to release endorphins? I have experimented with naltrexone and it works well to block my opiate receptors when drinking. It just scares me that I'm blocking all euphoria and how I'm messing with neuroplasticity and encoding long term memories... Thoughts?

similar situation -- have had a lot of success with nal. but now curious about the neuroplasticity you mention. curious if you have any further reading on this. I'm reading Pollan's new book "How to Change your Mind" and it makes me very interested in exploring LSD more for similar addiction purposes.

in my younger years, up till about 26, i could get drunk and show up to work at 9am the next day, ready to go.

i’m almost 30 now and i literally can’t drink a single beer without feeling hungover the next morning. if i drink 3 or more, i might as well call in sick. as a result, i just stopped completely. there’s other ways to have fun that don’t make me feel terrible.

Empathise with that. What other things do you do for fun?

26 was my year too.. I remember the day vividly where I became a little older. Next hit was at 34.

I can't wait.

I had the same experience, but took hbws seeds (LSA, similar to LSD). Would not have gotten out of it otherwise.. luckily, my allergies also blossoms when taking a drink, reminding me how bad it is.

If you feel like you're having allergic episodes when drinking, you may have some sinus issues lurking!

I'll do a checkup, thanks for pointing this out. I've already tested myself for all types of allergies and other related issues, weird that none of the doctors pointed out sinus issues.

What's the allergic response?

I am allergic to alcohol too, always have been. Drinking causes my skin to turn bright red, and it makes me feel like I'm on fire. Burning pins and needle all over my body, especially the soles of my feet. It's excruciating, and as a result I don't drink.

Histaminergic. My eyes get watery, throat gets scratchy, nose runny, etc.

LSD is an acid, literally, maybe it just burns the receptors. Non of that experience talk. It's not an opiate anyway but the body can produce neuro transmitters on its own, if you are paradoxically happy about intoxicating yourself. If somehow this pathway is interrupted, I'm not sure that's a good thing. Alcohol in great masses can have the same effect, after all, if the drinking at some point only serves to feel miserable, lacking the joy and done only out of habbit.

You know what else is an acid? DNA.

I actually have found small doses of LSD have helped me lose the desire to drink. There is legitimate research happening that shows this is a real phenomenon...unsure about the science but for me it’s a cleaner better “high” with no hangover effect and not nearly as toxic (if at all)

Suggesting the use of a recreation drug to combat addiction is very dangerous territory. I'm glad it helped you. I am no stranger to recreational drugs and have witnessed some friends suffer from addiction. One particular friend had a coke problem. That person managed to quit coke and became a drunk. Then eventually was able to quit drinking and got addicted to downers. Through out this person's life they took lots of random psychedelics so that certainly was not a cure for them.

Psychedelics are not necessarily recreational drugs. The ideal way to use them in service of stopping addiction is within the context of therapy: usually a few sessions of talk therapy before and after the long session where the drug is administered in a safe, conducive, and clinically supervised setting.

It’s like the difference between self-medication with a friend’s Xanax vs having a diagnosis and a prescription from a doctor or psychiatrist. Only aside from some promising studies with psilocybin and MDMA, you can’t legslly have a psychedelic experience in that kind of context yet in America.

There are people who do it underground, trained therapists I mean, though I have no idea how one would find them.

Fair enough. I guess I get nervous that people might miss the whole therapy part and think you just have to go tripping on friday night and suddenly all your problems are solved :)

Whoops, I didn’t realize that I was replying to two comments by the same poster! My response above is the better one, and I’d have left it at that. And your note of caution is a good one, I just wanted to provide some additional context. Babies in bathwater and all that.

Yes. I had heard lots of advice from Random Internet People that using the plant kratom was very helpful in killing your desire to drink. Now, I'm addicted to the (opiate-like) effects of kratom. It's actually maybe a bit healthier for me than alcohol, but doesn't feel any better mentally or emotionally.

In case it needs to be stated - please don't take illicit substances because a random poster on an internet forum tells you it's helped in x or y ways.

(For the record, I do believe this class of substances can help a lot of people. Do your own research, know your own body, and think for yourself before making a decision that can have possible adverse effects)

There's no such thing as "illicit" and "legal" substances on the internet - it depends on where each poster and reader is located.

Unless it's LSD. I enjoy LSD as much as anyone here, but it's globally illegal.

And it's pretty unlikely that anyone is posting on HN from the international space station, so it's safe to say that LSD is definitely illicit regardless of their location.

> but it's globally illegal.

Technically true, but it’s decriminalized in a handful of countries and thus “tolerated”.

> And it's pretty unlikely that anyone is posting on HN from the international space station

Wouldn’t matter, it’s illegal there (for US astronauts at least, can’t confirm for Russians, but I’d highly doubt it).

Which is a shame.

I think I used to think like this, but realized it doesn't particularly accomplish anything. Moving our collective walls takes concentrated, but subtle effort.

Can I interest you in some flax? https://www.principiadiscordia.com/bip/1.php

Or weed/cbd.


It's not about a replacement drug, it's about a cure. (Or so it seems). Here's a study where 12/15 people quit smoking after 3 hits of psilocybin:


EDIT: I guess the poster who suggested LSD is conflating these two.

It seems like this was therapy that happen to leverage small amount of mushrooms. Maybe this is a good combo, not sure. But I have years of first hand experience with friends who are life long smokers and have taken mushrooms and LSD multiple times a year for decades. I really have not seen a relationship between quiting smoking and mushrooms.

We’re they taking the psychedelics with the intention of trying to quit smoking, or just to get loaded and have a weird night? If it’s the latter, I wouldn’t expect any change in smoking status, outside of a chance epiphany about what it does to the body.

There’s the idea of “set” and “setting” for psychedelic use. A (mind)set of “party time!” and a setting of “party time!” is unlikely to be effective in the way that a set of “i want to quit smoking” and a setting of “quiet, safe surroundings” would be.

Intention and preparation matter with these drugs—though they’re apparently no guarantee either.

In their cases it's always for a fun weird night at a music festival etc. But that's sort of my point is that I don't think quiting an addiction is a inherent characteristic of mushrooms but possibly a complement to therapy.

So you're replacing one substance with another? How is that better?

Isn’t this stance completely dismissive of methadone clinics approach to addiction? If the individual can break a stronger and more dangerous addiction with a less addictive and dangerous substance then it’s a net positive on their addiction journey but not the final stop.

We're right to complain about methadone clinics which show poor effectiveness when compared to other better programs.

Of course it is.

What do you mean? Everything you consume is a substance. Some substances are absolutely better than others.

LSD has dangers too. People have had major mental breakdowns on LSD, and hurt themselves or others.

“No Link Found between Psychedelics and Psychosis: A large U.S. survey found that users of LSD and similar drugs were no more likely to have mental-health conditions than other respondents”


Those are not small doses.

LSD is not physically toxic the way alcohol can be when taken in excess.

Furthermore, this is more of a matter of opinion but I strongly feel it doesn’t dull your senses / decision making / cognition the way alcohol does.

> LSD is not physically toxic the way alcohol can be when taken in excess.

On the other hand it can result in permanent personality changes / dissociative identity disorder.

The personality changes are real. Psychedelics fixed my autism. Or at least, taught me how to cope with it in a way that’s compatible with a good social life and less suffering.

Base rates, my friend. LSD can trigger dissociative type states in a very, very small percentage of the population. Compare to the far more statistically likely damage of alcohol.

LSD does cause permanent personality changes. That's what makes it such a beautiful compound. For me, it permanently altered my openness to experience, made me more intuitively empathetic, and improved my communication skills (the last two are two sides of the same coin). As a result, I am more well-adjusted, better able to communicate, more in tune with people's unspoken emotions and better at dropping into that unique state of vulnerability that we often call love. *

Your mileage may vary.

* Actually, psilocybin mushrooms were my first psychedelic so I credit them with that more than LSD per se. LSD was like the icing on top, really.

> As a result, I am more well-adjusted, better able to communicate, more in tune with people's unspoken emotions and better at dropping into that unique state of vulnerability that we often call love. *

I find it difficult to call someone well adjusted when they are dependent on a hallucinogenic drug to cope with reality.

I can’t speak for the person you are talking to, but I feel the same way he does so I think I can help explain. I don’t depend on psychedelics on an ongoing basis. They taught me how to think in a different way. They are part of my education.

I’ve seen the damage that drug addiction can do, so I understand your caution. But they are nothing like addictive depressants or stimulants. The drugs are actually somewhat unpleasant while the effects take told, and you feel better from the after-effects when they wear off. You also get a lot of tolerance after a single dose. This means that the compulsive redosing behavior that leads to dependence simply doesn’t happen.

You hit the nail on the head. Once you've "gotten it", you don't need to continually re-dose psychs. You always carry a piece of the experience with you.

Let me give you an example.

A relative of mine is a drug addict. It started with light pill abuse in his late teen years. Then turned into a serious opioid addiction a few years later. There is wide debate on susceptibility to addiction in terms of things like personality or genetics and so on. Whatever the case his personality certainly seems aggressively directed at being easily prone to substance/drug abuse and to seeking it out. Once he became a full-blown opioid addict, the ability to control his general problem with addiction of course went out the window, it pretty well destroyed his life.

His mother refuses to help him get treatment via for example Suboxone, because she says that's just a crutch that keeps you addicted (equivalent to your reference of replacing one substance with another). Meanwhile, instead, the out of control opioid addiction continues threatening his life. The core of this issue is that not all substances are created equal in their consequences. Suboxone may be a form of crutch, and crutches are often very useful when you have a broken leg.

I've known a few people with opioid addictions, the only ones I've ever seen able to control it had to use treatments like Suboxone. In that case, replacing one substance with another, means regaining control over your life (while you hopefully pursue long-term therapy to permanently kick the addiction) and being able to live mostly normally.

One of those people was a fairly close friend. She had a problem with addictions over many years. Alcohol, cocaine, lighter pain killers, and so on. She was always able to walk back the addictions, until opioids. Once she became an opioid addict, there was no walking that back, it took over every aspect of her life. All of her thinking shifted to short-term obsession to fill the craving. Her entire life became a fireball of destruction: thieving, lying, anything necessary to get the next fix. When you're consumed by that addiction, there is no long-term thinking, there's no next month or next year, there's only sating the drug addiction. When the doctors began cutting off her drug access one after another, she eventually even turned to getting various prescriptions for her dogs. Then buying opioids illegally on the black market. The person you used to know, no longer exists while this is going on, they're an addiction zombie that can hardly be reasoned with (they'll say anything at any time to avoid a discussion or intervention). That whirlwind went on for a year plus, until one day she took Suboxone. I'm sure it's not for everyone, I'm sure it doesn't work for everyone; in this case, it was like a miracle. One day she was an out of control drug addict, a week or two later she was back, normal, able to think long-term again, able to hold a job and reason normally. It was almost as though the prior year had never happened. It's wild to witness that transformation occur in such a short amount of time. So long as she took Suboxone on schedule, she was no longer an out of control opioid addict. She could then pursue a long-term strategy of opioid addiction therapy. Sometimes substituting one substance for another, is about managing addiction in the relative short-term through a better process, so you can work toward the long-term goal of ending the addiction.

Your mention of susceptibility to addiction reminded me of a sad irony. The population that's among the most susceptible to addiction are those with untreated ADHD. ADHD impairs your ability to consciously choose your actions -- many doctors think ADHD is a misnomer and Executive Functioning Disorder would be a better one. It drastically increases one's stimulation-seeking behavior, since adrenaline acts as a form of natural medication. (This is why you find higher-than-expected numbers of first responders and military personnel with ADHD, and why they tend to be so calm in a crisis.)

Unfortunately, recreational drugs are a one-two punch. First, the activity of taking recreational drugs is highly stimulating in and of itself, due to its risk, which means that the simple act of taking something, anything, can become damn near irresistible. Second, the effects of many of these drugs actually do end up acting as a quasi-medication. Cocaine, for instance, is quite chemically similar to Ritalin; meth is an amphetamine like Adderall; opiates seem to act almost as stimulants for many with ADD (including me), and also help to deaden the hyperactivity a bit; alcohol mercifully slows down your thinking; and so on.

The irony then is that many drug addicts would significantly benefit from a prescription of Adderall or Ritalin, but unfortunately these medications are very difficult to have prescribed if you have a history of addiction. I understand why this is the case, but I can't help but feel sad for those who unfortunately may never get the treatment (or even the diagnosis) they need to rein in their lives.

There's replacement, and then there's using it as an actual fix:


The poster seemed to conflate the two.

On the face of it, I supposed it depends on the relative downsides of the two substances.

You would either take one or two high levels and stop both or a low level lsd over a few months and then stop both.

Reminds me of antibiotics. Kill some over connected pathways vs Kill some bacteria.

How many people have died from LSD? Surely some addictions are better than others. If he had replaced his alcohol addiction with chocolate wouldn't that have been better?

If you need help with the alcohol I can't recommend The Sinclair Method enough. Absolutely life changing for myself and many others. https://reddit.com/r/alcoholism_medication

Can't strongly second this enough, there's a nonprofit dedicated to spreading the word about it too which has some good resources


Not sure if you've tried this but it helps me when things get out of hand; check out /r/stopdrinking

Just talking about it with other people going through the same thing helps a lot. It's almost always worked for me and I tend to get a hold of things before the spiral further out of control.

Best of luck mate. IWNDWYT

Don’t risk doing permanent damage to yourself. Peripheral Neuropathy and other CNS issues caused by heavy alcoholism may not go away.. If you’re still able to think and feel normal now you’re at a good stopping point and are lucky. Once you tip into permanent damage it’s easier to keep drinking to treat the symptoms, pain, or insomnia caused by chronic alcoholism. It’s hard to fall asleep when your nerves feel like they’re on fire.

The only end is death when depending on bottles a week.

I have chronic painful peripheral neuropathy from alcohol abuse. I wouldnt describe it as being on fire; however, more like random jabs from needles on top of a constant numbness associated with your feet being asleep that no amount of movement or rubbing can satisfy. The doctor prescribed neurontin which I took for a year while unemployed. It made me incredibly drowsy while only marginally helping with the pain. When I started working I chose to discontinue taking it and just live with the pain as I found myself unable to stay awake while coding. It's funny at times to be sitting in a meeting trying to listen to someone while not expressing outwardly that an invisible dagger is being driven into my thigh. :)

Good for you for stopping. If you need further help, you can find a medical treatment program through your doctor that prescribes antabuse or naltrexone. Antabuse makes you vomit and have extreme nausea if you drink. That may help curb the physical dependence and feelings since your body will associate alcohol with being poisonous.

congrats on your time. there is no shame in asking for help, in fact that is what a smart person would do!

Impressive that you quit on your own and see the important things around you that will keep you on the path to get those for yourself. You should be proud. Hats off to you.

Did you lose a child? Or, at you depressed because you have yet to produce one?

Do you mean Absolut or “absolute alcohol”? Seems odd that if it’s the former you’d buy so much and still misspell it. If it’s the latter you should surely not be able to tell the tale.

From that sense I guess people get wasted with only a few sips of Absolute are gifted. I could never get to the point where I could consume a whole bottle of Absolute in a single month. It was way too strong for me. Beer do me good though, I last a few pint before I fall asleep. And that is good enough for me.

I have seen people who can keep drinking what I thought were literally diluted Alcohol. I guess your body takes damage without them knowing it.


I’ve never been a heavy drinker, but at one point 2 years ago I handled a project by myself to move 6 million dollars a month in charity transactions from one uncooperative payment processor to another.

I normally handled stress well, but this was a different level and it was physically taxing on me. I had a glass of wine one night about 3 weeks into this and immediately felt so much better that I ended up having 3-4 / night for 3 months just to cope with the stress.

As soon as the project ended (successfully I might add), I stopped...but I’ll never forget how much I felt like I needed the alcohol during that time. I’ve never experienced that in my life but it gave me a new appreciation for what it must be like to really struggle with the addiction. If I felt like that every day I don’t know what I’d do.

Sincerest condolences to his family.

There are certain substances I've found to be helpful for managing intense stress in-lieu of alcohol. If interested, I'd suggest experimenting with each and seeing if any work (or work in combination) for you, as they're all significantly less harmful than alcohol.

1. Agmatine

bonus, reduces alcohol cravings:


2. L-theanine

3. Taurine

4. Rhodiola rosacea

5. Tulsi

L theanine is amazing.

Disclaimer: pure anecdote !

I wish there was a way to reduce stress the way you describe alcohol does, but without the tolerance-related escalation and the addiction. I have been trying meditation and progressive relaxation - they do work, but only for a limited duration. 2 hours later, you're back to being jittery and edge-of-the-seat.

There is. It's called physical exercise.

People have a wide range of different responses to both exercise and alcohol (along with everything else). For me, exercise does feel like it helps but it also takes physical and mental resources. Also, I tend to exercise more when I have more time available, ie. when I'm less busy and under less pressure, so there's a pretty strong confounding factor involved.

Used for relaxation, alcohol is a quick-fix solution but sometimes that's what you need. A crutch is great for a few days when you've got a sprained ankle and still need to march. Just don't make it a permanent part of your life.

Arguably this does/can lead to tolerance escalation and addiction - but most people are fine with that.

If the reason is stress, scaling back is probably the wisest option, but if that is not possible for one reason or another, and mental problems enter the mix, people should never be afraid to seek out professional medical help.

I also used alcohol to self-medicate for anxiety. And while in many countries there is a strong stigma against "just taking a pill" to help with this sort of thing, it's a hell of a lot better than becoming an alcoholic.

I hope this isn't revisioning. The drinking might actually increase the stress levels, subtly so and slowly, if sticking to small ammounts. That means I'm not denying that the job wasn't difficult to beginn with, but the addicted are prone to shift blame out of proportion--I know because I frequently blame e.g. work schedule, when I'm too tired because I spent all night with something else instead of sleeping like most people regularly manage to achieve. It's literally irresponsible, i.e. not responding to good faith.

It’s accurate. I was worried constantly that I was going to screw something up badly for multiple charities.

I rarely drink at all, but when this was happening my entire chest was tense for the whole time period. When I had the glass of wine just released it for some reason. Alcohol has never really done anything for me so the reaction was a big surprise.

I do appreciate the concern though. I rarely have anything anymore. I usually find that wine gives me headaches now so I never bother. Can’t gave gluten so that cuts out most beer. If anything I’ll have an Old Fashioned if we are out at a nice dinner, but that’s pretty much the extend of what I have these days.

Alcohol should never be used for stress, only for social lubrication.

There's better ways to deal with stress. Pump iron, or go for a run. 30-60 minutes of running should give you a reset.

"social lubrication" is another way of saying reducing anxiety stress.

Social anxiety about the current moment, though. They are different anxieties.

It goes hand in hand. Mental performance is to a large degree reliant on physical performance, as for digestion, respiration, blood circulation, hormone ballance, wakefullness (focus), muscle tonus (literally being upright), nervous integrity and what have you.

Maybe a small bit of spirit is helpfull for digestion. For everything else, alcohol is a nervous agent. Social easing is a bit like shaking up the weights of a neural network, a little randomization does often make no difference and might even help to get out of a local minimum, but also away from an optimum. You don't want to go at it with a cheese grater and kitchen mixer, or let an epileptic operate with a rusty knife on an open heart.

I used alcohol as a social lubricant in college but it was a hit or miss as you said due to do randomization of those weights.

What worked for me years later was to actually work out and lose weight and people start looking at you differently.

It's irrelevant if one's alcohol requirement for social interaction still results in frequent consumption and potential addiction.

I’m not proud of it. I was as shocked by the effect at that time.

Part of what drove me to leave the SF tech industry was the normalized daily alcohol consumption.

At one startup in SOMA, on my first day the CEO introduced me to the team and pressured me to drink a shot of booze as was the company's tradition. My first group interaction with the entire company (~30 heads) was responding "water" to the CEO's question "so what's you're drink?" asked while standing next to a bar on wheels rolled over for the occasion, which I had to repeat two or three times, when he repeated the question expecting me to cave under pressure.

Utter stupidity, may as well be insisting I smoke a cigarette from my perspective.

I left one software company, in part because they developed apps for pubs and restaurants, and most of the other employees came from a hospitality background and wanted to get wasted each Friday night. That I wanted to a) spend time with my daughter (on alternating weeks) or b) just go home and chill out alone was not acceptable, and my disinterest in the partying culture lead to many cold shoulders at work also. Much younger me had not even considered asking about the 'after-work' culture when interviewing; lesson learned!

The first time I ever did a “keg stand” in my life was not in college, but in my late 30s one week after joining a startup which had kegs in the office.

I believe my previous drug issues were strongly related to the drinking culture at the company I worked for during that time. I am at a point now where if I felt pressured like this I would not shrug it off like I used to, but instead contact HR.

If someone gets a cancer, we don't judge them for having weak DNA replication.

If someone gets an infectious disease, we don't judge them for having a weak immune system.

If someone becomes addicted to a substance, we shouldn't judge them for having a weak physical or psychiatric system.

Addiction is a disease and should be treated as such. All of the xA (Alcoholics/Narcotics/Gambling etc) Anonymous are fine communal assistance groups, but addiction is not about will power.

Thank you for the analogies here. I must admit that I've always struggled to understand just how addiction works. I was one of those that always put it down to 'lack of willpower' due to sheer lack of understanding of the depth of how this condition works.

Also, I am thinking that coming from a POV where I don't have any addictive tendencies makes it all the more harder to put myself in the other persons shoes. Not being pious or getting on a high horse here - it is genuinely like someone who doesn't have ADHD or autism trying to understand what it is like for someone who does. Analogies like the above makes it easier to comprehend though.

You are completely right.

Mental diseases, however, look to other people completely different compared to regular diseases. Some argue they are not diseases at all, since they may lack known biological / cellular component. This becomes more complicated in case when they do not seek treatment.

> If someone becomes addicted to a substance

Are you mad? Nobody suddenly becomes 'addicted'. Addiction is something you do willfully and deliberately to yourself. Addiction is not a disease, it is a form of self-harm.

In his examples addiction is a mental illness/disorder. I agree, it is really hard to understand why would anyone get addicted to something out of thin air, but it happens apparently and it is a very big problem. Most of the homeless people you see out there are not just mentally ill; they are addicted.

"Self-harm" you mentioned is a mental problem. Yes, none of these are like cancer and deadly at first, but they really can turn deadly if no one helps. It is hard for me to understand too, but I don't take anything for granted. We never know what would trigger all these. I am sure he didn't want to die at 35 and leave her 3 years old kid behind with his wife alone.

When I was diagnosed with kidney disease, I was one step into stage 5 kidney failure where dialysis is considered. However there were very few outward signs. Even my PCP was not expecting it when he ordered a standard lot of tests. Our bodies don't always have clear signs of things going wrong. Make sure to have regular checkups.

Same with me though my kidney failure was caused by Sarkoid and that was diagnosed early with chronic kidney failure as the sarcoid expressed its's self one of my eyes.

IT was only when I was having an untrasound that the problem in the kidney was found and I had a couple of decades of managed decline before I went on to the transplant list.

Mine is IgA Nephropathy. Its an autoimmune disease where your immune cells attack your kidneys. Might is the rapidly progressing one. More common is the slow progressing one people can manage.

OH sorry to hear that are you on Dialysis yet?

It is not impossible to stop using and drinking completely. I am a very high performing software engineer and 20 years ago I had an opioid problem. I experienced bad things and out of control things as part of my addiction. My thinking was nuts. Yes I could have killed myself. My productivity dropped so much I was told "all the managers are wondering about you," but no one could figure it out, because I didn't seem like the type. I quit my job. Then I did the whole rigamarole of getting clean and I followed the suggestions of people who had struggled with the same problem and gotten freedom around it. I still do that. I am saying this (under a brand new login) because if there are people out there who are feeling hopeless, there is hope for you. I don't think about using anymore and I have learned tools to deal with my (substantial) success. You can too. The best thing was I got clean when my son was very young, he never saw me loaded, I had a good and stable relationship with his mother, and my son has no attraction to drugs or alcohol at this point. I was raised in an alcoholic home so I can't tell you the sense of accomplishment and gratitude I have about that. You don't have to be a genius to do this. You need willingness and honesty and you need to get some help. Good luck, I am rooting for you.

For those who have a problem with alcohol from being a bit of a drunk to an addict, there's a pill for that: Naltrexone, taken one hour before drinking, blocks positive reinforcement for drinking alcohol. This treatment is called the "Sinclair method."

Studies show Naltrexone and the Sinclair method prevents excessive consumption and over time can extinguish addiction. Over the course of a year alcoholics can basically totally lose interest in alcohol.

It's not a fringe treatment. It has been the standard of care in Finland for decades.

Here is a global listing of physicians familiar with the treatment: https://cthreefoundation.org/find-a-physician

These board certified physicians prescribe it in many states in the US via telemedicine consultations: https://www.mdproactive.com/what-we-treat/alcohol-use-disord...

(I'm suggesting this online practice because I understand it may be hard to find a physician familiar with this treatment in some areas in the United States.)

I went from being a bit of a drunk even by American standards to having no interest in alcohol after a couple pills.

The first time I took it, I knew it could have saved by grandfather's life.

It's really heartbreaking that so few people know about this treatment.

Anyone who likes alcohol would be amazed how useless it is without the opioid response (that Naltrexone blocks).

You can find papers about this on Google scholar: https://scholar.google.com/scholar?hl=en&as_sdt=0%2C14&q=sin...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naltrexone https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=53JObexh0w0 https://www.amazon.com/Cure-Alcoholism-Medically-Eliminate-A... https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCdeh0LP6kuSQ9GsorQpVnUw

What an incredibly dangerous suggestion that people seek out a prescription for this kind of drug online at mdproactive or anywhere else.

You also did not mention that a number of studies have shown this drug to be only modestly effective at treating alcohol abuse, and that there are better treatments. It can also cause liver damage. It's not a magic pill.

Show your sources. The studies that indicate it’s not effective are in comparison to a placebo when alcohol is NOT consumed with the drug. The Sinclair method is very specific about taking the drug with alcohol (and measuring its reduced usage over time).

To my knowledge liver damage has only been documented at doses far beyond what the Sinclair method directs.

Edit: source as requested below: https://academic.oup.com/alcalc/article/36/1/2/137995

Show your sources too, please

Added to the original comment, thanks.

source? it's common sense that drugs can interact with others. always see a doctor before taking anything. again, it's not specific for this case, it's plain common sense. even aspirin is dangerous if you're diabetic, for example.

Yes definitely go to your doctor or see a psychiatrist before ordering medication online. There are alternatives like Baclofen or Gabapentin, moreover there could be other underlying issues that need to be treated. Self medication is not a solution.

This isn't self-medication - it's talking to a licensed professional and asking for a prescription for the actual condition you have. (Of course it's abusable but it's not the same thing as buying controlled substances on the dark web or even lying about symptoms to get a prescription.)

Maybe those physicians, who are licensed to practice medicine in the United States, know better than you do.

You are contending, without evidence, that these physicians are dangerous. That is a serious claim.

If you are concerned that these physicians are endangering the public, you should take it up with their respective state medical boards straightaway.

> Maybe those physicians, who are licensed to practice medicine in the United States, know better than you do.

There is nowhere near a consensus among professional physicians that this drug is as good as you claim it to be. Meanwhile I can find plenty of physicians like Dr. Oz who are snake oil salesmen, so I reject your fallacious appeal to authority.

EDIT: I see that you have now edited your comment to say "(An appeal to authority is the purpose of medical licensing.)". You should not edit your comments in an attempt to make people who responded to you look bad, or look like they missed something that was actually not there.

Now you keep adding even more! If you want to respond, then respond. I quoted the entire text of your original comment at the top of mine.

The Sinclair method faces a lot of institutional incentive-related difficulties (generic drug, permanent treatment). It also has some aspects that are counterintuitive at first glance (e.g. it requires drinking alcohol, which creates skepticism when proposed by an alcoholic) but which are scientifically grounded. To anyone facing the problem of alcoholism: please do take the time to research it, read the studies, and form your own opinion. It’s really worth the time, and it’s not something you’re likely to hear about through traditional sources (yet) for the aforementioned reasons.

Considering my experience with Varenicline and how it effectively worked in abandoning nicotine, I tend to agree that a deconditioning drug taken while consuming is a very effective therapeutic path.

Yes there are many unethical physicians, but majority of physicians still are hard-workers and know way better than you.

> Yes there are many unethical physicians, but majority of physicians still are hard-workers and know way better than you.

The majority of physicians do not prescribe this drug, and even the ones who do prescribe it do not recommend that patients try to obtain it online and self-medicate.

You twisted my meaning into an attack on physicians, which it certainly was not. It was a rejection of a fallacious appeal to authority.

The fact that some physicians recommend something is simply not convincing. It's not hard to find a small number of physicians who would recommend homeopathy either, nor is it hard to find a small number of scientists who reject climate science. A consensus among physicians (or scientists) is what makes an appeal to authority reasonable.

It can also cause liver damage

As opposed to the liver-sparing lifetime of alcoholism?

Principle of least harm comes into play, here.

It's interesting that you use the words "dangerous" and "this kind of drug" for a drug that is the antithesis of the opioid epidemic.

If you're worried about liver damage please look into Acetaminophen.

I feel like you're missing something if you object to a treatment for alcoholism on the grounds that the treatment might cause liver damage. Alcoholism definitely will cause liver damage.

Naltrexone is generally safe for most, but in severe cases of cirrhosis it's not recommended. There are alternatives, but someone with that level of alcoholism usually needs to be clinically monitored.

Came to the comments to look for this post. I completed TSM myself not so long ago. It has been nothing short of life changing. Seemed too good to be true, but really doesn't seem like there's a catch.

There's a subreddit here too which is becoming more and more active. https://reddit.com/r/alcoholism_medication

I agree that Naltrexone can help curb alcohol use in the case of heavy/problem drinkers, but alcoholism/addiction is entirely different than "developing a taste".

For anyone who is struggling with addiction, or thinks they may have a problem - please treat this like any other disease and consult a medical professional.

I'd also suggest, if possible, speaking with another addict in recovery to learn about what they have found successful. There are 12 step support groups (AA and NA being the two most well known) worldwide.

There are many available treatments and it's really difficult to know what will be best for any one person (and what works for an individual at any given point in time may change).

(Also, if you have been actively using alcohol or benzodiazepines, please consider talking to medical professional before abruptly stopping - there are serious risks during withdrawal and it can be deadly).

If anyone need help finding more information, don't hesitate to message me.

Absolutely appalling to see this comment being downvoted. Thank you for taking the time to write it.

> appalling to see this comment being downvoted

I didn’t downvote. But AA has a mixed track record with respect to effectiveness [1]. It’s also been likened to a cult [2]. This might explain some downvoted.

[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2746426/

[2] https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2015/04/the-irr...

> https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2746426/

That article shows that people who regularly go to AA meetings are more likely to be sober (e.g. 67% people who went to one or more meeting a week were sober 16 years later).

Because of the universal nature of AA, it is hard to randomize for it (if you just randomly tell an alcoholic to go to AA, they have already been told that by others, so that's not a very good randomization; the control is contaminated); that said, there are studies where people randomly selected to go to AA are more likely to be sober. A 2014 meta study shows that greater AA attendance results in greater sobriety, which can not be attributed to self-selection (in other words, we have finally scientifically demonstrated that the people doing well are being helped by AA):


Now, that Gabrielle Glaser article you link to which claims AA is a cult uses some very dubious figures for AA's success. They come from Lance Dodes; since Dodes could not find any studies that AA has a 5% success rate, he instead multiplied multiple numbers from unrelated studies to synthesize the 5% figure. His numbers have been questioned by a number of treatment experts, including Thomas Beresford, John Kelly, Gene Beresin, and Jeffrey D. Roth (who called Dodes's figures a "pseudostatistical polemic").

AA works fundamentally by substituting an addiction to Alcohol to one for AA - This to me has always seemed like a workable (if in the short term) way to solve the problem.

Here is a peer-reviewed paper which describes how meetings are beneficial, not addictive:


(Note that this is a paywall link. Here is a quote to give readers here a gist of that article: "acceptance of the tenets of AA may be associated with positive behavioral change"; the paper describes how working the AA program results in people having a more positive world view)

12-step meetings are not a short-term fix; I have already linked to a paper which shows that two out of three people who regularly go to AA meetings in their first year of alcohol treatment are still sober 16 years later. Here's the original paper with those figures:


While I have personally found AA to e very useful, it may not be the right solution for everyone (personally, it took me a long time until it helped).

I'd also like to add, each group is different and yes, some can be cult-like. I'd suggest trying more than one.

I'm really not trying to promote AA, just mentioning that it's one of many options (in addition to medically assistant therapy, individual and group counseling etc).

Anybody who claims to know what will work for any one person is full of it. But to anyone struggling, please keep trying different methods until you find the treatment that works for you.

The main reason that AA/NA helped me was that it brought me around sober/clean people that I could hang out with and make friends with. The step work is BS in my opinion. But the sober friends kept me alive.

That may be true. A 2018 paper shows that other non-12-step fellowships are as effective as AA (as long as the goal is abstinence from alcohol, not moderation). Since the paper is still under paywall until later this year, here's a good lay summary:


I am an alcoholic and I have been fighting for my life for 30 years. I also tried to disprove the AA program for 23 years. After I didn't drink for 6 years I tried it again and resumed how messed up my life was. Now after 1 year in AA and working "the program," my life is getting to be the best I have had as an adult...and a coder.

Wow this is really sad. Everyone reading this, please take care of yourself. Physically and mentally.

I would add that if you feel like taking care of yourself is impossible, overwhelming, or not worth it, there is no reason on Earth to not seek help. There is no shame in getting the help you need!

The bottom of the article is (most likely algorithmically) populated with a display of Square’s live stock changes. Which seems in poor taste.

Holy shit. Tristan. We argued about code quality. I learned a lot from you. I’m so sorry.

Some of the photographs in his portfolio are amazing, I'd suggest a look:


If you like those, here’s a bunch more:




I’m coordinating a memorial in San Francisco the end of this month. We intend to have it at an art gallery with his photography on display. If you want to be notified about it, reach out (contact info on my profile).

I trust there are separate plans to preserve his websites & photos on archive.org’s wayback machine.

I managed to preserve the 500px one: http://archive.is/RLc2g

Yes, I’m working to preserve everything I can.

Thank you for mentioning that, I up voted this with the hope it can be higher up in the comments. There were lots of comments threads about the vague "addiction" and less vague alcohol problem [1], but after reading the article, I went straight to the photography website and really liked much of it. His photos are very accomplished and beautiful, I particularly liked http://otierney.net/lights. I didn't know the guy from Adam, but was happy to stumble on his works and imagine they are a fitting legacy. I understand the importance of the addiction threads for others, but I was more moved by his art.

[1] I have to say that the HN community repeatedly amazes me with its caring and thoughtful and helpful discussions.

Edited to fix issues with asterisk footnote mistaken for emphasis markup/down

Thank you for sharing! I work in tech but photography is my passion. Those are some wonderful pictures he was able to capture.

He also has a remarkably helpful and detailed description on how to shoot light trails on that site. http://otierney.net/tutorials/2014/4/24/long-exposure-light-...

If anybody else is wondering how to navigate that, you need to mouseover the right image to get an arrow, then click to advance. (Because scrolling vertically would be just too obvious.)

There are also additional pages of pics under the +Portfolio dropdown.

Such a shame that these amazingly intelligent people can’t find peace of mind

I think the two could be tangentially related. Not necessarily intelligence, but constant thinking and wondering. In my own experience, I loved working on new things and learning new things. I took some time to step away, and wow did I get bored easy, and found myself zoning out thinking, even so far as doing it when others were talking to me. Sleep was impossible, and it was really easy to turn to alcohol just for the mental rest.

Even Elon Musk commented on this recently. Paraphrasing because I don't remember the quote, on Joe Rogan, he mentioned it's not so nice to be him because his mind was always working and he couldn't turn it off. It really hit home for me, and I couldn't even imagine how much worse it is for some folks, especially those who founded companies and have that stress on top.

So true. Towards the end of my doctoral thesis, I found myself brooding and gloomy, and difficult to relate to others. The same mood returns when I am intensely working on something,

Happiness, for all I know is basically the ability to ignore sad and inconvenient truths about the world around you. The smarter you are, the harder it is to maintain this delusion.

I have learnt to find some joy in watching my young kids. They haven't been corrupted/encumbered by it all. Secondly, the hope is that as they grow the world will slowly improve with them as shown by some long term data. Third, meditating helps! it helps me get out of my own thinking framework and make some breathing room for myself.

Lastly, I feel there is a very important reality that we all are largely unaware of it is that (IMHO) we live our lives in log scale, meaning generally every new experience creates much lighter impression than the one by say a few years ago. if you accept that (barring physical discomfort) world is not such a bad place compare to even a few decades ago.

World isn't perfect for sure but it is indeed eye-opening to sometimes check how much worse things were as recently as 70s and 80s. Helps to put today's issues into perspective, and be a bit more content.

The smarter you are the more you would understand this and smarter people would be happier.

The happiest people don't worry and find joy in the things around them.

Alcohol is such an incredibly shitty drug I don't understand why it's so popular and why people don't substitute it with another drug. What's most curious is why people don't do drug substitution for cost mitigation.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Square,_Inc. has zero mention of his name (and only list Dorsey and McKelvey as founders). Is he really not a co-founder or Wikipedia is wrong?

It was alcohol addiction.

Reading this on mobile, and there is a huge ad for Belvedere Vodka. Just like the "Fuck Cancer" movement, it's time we had a "Fuck Alcohol" movement. I'm hoping with cannabis gaining more and more support throughout the US that we see a drop-off in alcohol consumption. It may take a generation or two, but I think it's time to drop this poison as a society.

R.I.P. and so sorry to hear that his young daughter will not get to know her father.

I get high from cannabis about once a week, so I’m not a tee-totaler. But weed is no substitute for alcohol if you’re concerned about addiction. The main reason that I used to drink to excess was to drown my anxiety / depression. I had a wake up call a few years ago and now only drink or get high on weekends... but what I’ve learned since then is it’s much better to treat your mental health problems with mindfulness and meditation (or even a therapist).

I'm not saying it is a substitute for alcohol, but I will take someone addicted psychologically to weed over someone psychologically and physically addicted to alcohol any day of the week.

I can't even count of both hands the number of people I grew up with that cannabis has completely wasted away their life. Remember, in the era of dabs and edibles, recreational dosage is massively higher than it was in the past. It does do real damage.

Please be mindful of spreading the belief that it is harmless. I certainly do not think it as dangerous as many drugs, but it certainly ruins, and will ruin, millions of lives.

I'm not spreading that it is harmless, but I have a hard time believing that it ruins more lives than alcohol, which is what my comment is centered on. I am happy to be proven wrong if you have some stats that show differently. Again, I'm not saying it does no harm, only that it does less harm than alcohol, and that alcohol use is more widely accepted and even promoted.


There was no suggestion of a return to prohibition, just an increased societal resistance to alcohol’s pernicious effects.

I live in Australia, which has never had prohibition, but like the UK, our drinking culture is probably as bad or worse than the U.S.

I should know; I was an excessive drinker from my late teens to my early 30s, and it could have turned out very badly had I not taken abrupt action when I did.

I took two full years off drinking from age 33, and adopted techniques to develop emotional health that I continue using to this day, and these days I can enjoy alcohol in moderation and have no ill-effects.

There's an Australian organisation called Hello Sunday Morning [1] that supports people trying to adopt a healthier relationship with alcohol, just as I did.

They have no agenda to prohibit or restrict people's ability to buy/use alcohol; they simply offer methods and support services to help people to cease their dangerous use of alcohol.

All power to them, I say.

[1] https://www.hellosundaymorning.org

Whereas the UK didn't have Prohibition yet also has an awful drinking culture that costs billions in medical interventions a year.

eg. https://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2016/jan/22/alcoho...

Due to the cultural hegemony of America, which we've enjoyed for almost a century at this point.

Please enlighten me, informed expert!

If you know Tristan, then you should show respect. If you don’t, then you shouldn’t assume to know. Speaking as someone who knew him very well (he and I considered each other brothers), his struggles with addiction were his own and not something that should be stated by others imho.

This must be a really rough day for you. Take care of yourself, okay? Make sure you're talking to someone about this, even if it doesn't seem like you need to.

Thanks! Definitely been doing that since learning of his passing last Saturday.

I know him and believe in protecting others by spreading the word.

I’ll respectfully agree to disagree, especially as what you stated isn’t the full story either.

I understand, depression and alcohol is lethal.

Sure, but neither had a direct link to his death. Please stop insinuating things which aren’t true.

I can empathize with your situation and it must be very painful to be there. I hope you had awesome times with him and that you have a great life moving forward.

Thanks! As I said in my eulogy, we had many good times, as well as some bad together, and I cherish them all. Thankfully (as both of us were photographers) I have plenty of amazing photos to relive those memories with.

Really makes you wonder how much is too much, how many years, frequency of regular vs binges, etc.. apparently some alcohol-related diseases only take a few decades to manifest.

I hate how normalized alcohol consumption is in most countries. At some point last year I realized I was drinking 4x days/week and knew I needed to step back. Have really stopped drinking during the week since the new year and saving the occasional drink for vacations only.

In all likelihood, pills were also involved. People rarely die at 35 from just alcoholism alone. It can happen, but it's rare.

It sounds like Tristan did alot of good for people and was very successful in his Career, He just had an addiction and couldn't overcome it. I feel especially bad for his Parents, Family, his girlfriend and his 3 year old Daughter most of all. When she gets older she will fairly barely even remember him or maybe she wont remember him at all. This is such a sad story and he was just so young.

Very sad news. Most people I’ve met treat alcohol as a casual, mostly harmless substance. On the other hand, the world is filled with people dying quickly and slowly from alcohol addiction. This discrepancy can be very confusing, especially for young people, as it’s often not clear which camp you’ll fall into — until it’s too late.

Personally, I think alcohol is worth giving up. Why find out how bad things can get? In my case, I quit 10 years ago. In that time, I’ve built a career as a software developer, grown a marriage, and become a father. I have a great social life, deeper friendships than I ever had while drinking, and have replaced the access to creativity I used to feel by drinking alcohol with running and meditation. Sobriety is an extremely viable path.


We need to support each other in times of need. Any addiction has as much a social component as psychological. Startups are hard and it has different effect on different people. Talk to your friends. Seek help, professional or personal.

Take care of your health everyone. Health, Family, & Friends are all more important than work.

Note: I'm not saying work caused this, especially since he was set for life with his work at Square (according to the article).

Stumbled upon his twitter bio while reading the comments and thought it was appropriate to post here:

"Square Co-Founder turned traveling photographer. Searching for the meaning of life and got lost along the way. Maybe it is hidden in these moments."

Condolences to all who knew him.

Sometimes people feel shame about their substance use. Sometimes people feel badly and turn to substances, or use substances gradually and find that they can't stop. Every one deserves to be fully accepted, loved, and to feel better. And sometimes it seems impossible to feel that within one's self. I hope it becomes easier to talk about one's experience with another. A friend, counselor, family member, a kind stranger. The boxes on internet sites. Even when one feels only darkness, another person can light a match to illuminate a tad bit. Small steps, over time, add up to better. It's slow and hard. And recovery can be like that. But it can be better. Always.

It’s starting to seem common. Every time I read some form of ‘successful tech founder dies young’ it’s almost always related to some form of addiction.

I wonder if that’s just the only thing being reported on, or it’s just the most likely way for these people to die.

At that age my doctor said the things that were likely to kill people like me were motorcycle accidents, extreme sports, and drug addiction. So if your hobbies are software and photography, that mostly leaves drug addiction.

Statistically, in the 30s, suicide and drugs (addiction or overdose) are the top 2. Car accidents is next.

Extreme sports and motorcycle accidents apply to such a smaller percentage of the population.

A lot more people die from overdoses each year than you might think. The number in 2007 was ~70,000 people in the US. That's more than double the number of people who die in traffic accidents.

If you or anyone you know has any issues, I recommend they see a psychiatrist or some sort of counselor and medical professional before handling their issues on their own. There is no shame in it. Mental health is as important if not more important than every other aspect of our physiology, yet it's still not taken seriously especially in Silicon Valley.

You never know when you're going to die. Realizing that it could be today can change your perspective on life. Losing your fear of dying will make you dangerously honest.

this is such a sad sad story. I lost my Aunt in 2014 to Alcoholism and a good friend of mine on October27th 2018, just last year a few months ago. he was only 48 and my Aunt was only 56 years young. this breaks my heart and his little girl doesn't have her Dad anymore. He must have had alcohol poisoning or maybe his heart just stopped. Praying for his family during this sudden unexpected death.

side note: you can have addictive and obsessive behavior non related to alcohol too. You have peace and happiness inside of you [1]. The twenties seem like a transitional period full of intense, if not overwhelming, emotions that can shadow the calm and joy .. only to be replaced by substances or ~hobbies (gambling, sex, whatever).

best of luck and rip TOT

My condolences to his daughter and his mom and those that knew him. This sucks!

Addiction is a terrible thing.

Never take the first step. It's your best defense.

Sure, but I believe over 85% of adults will drink alcohol at some point in their lives so that is easier said than done.

Sadly once you are older it starts to make more sense.

Even Jesus drank wine

I've read that he had some reputation as an alcoholic.




It's probably just not the right context for introducing this topic.

The suggestion that a fast might have cured this person's alcoholism and saved their life is highly speculative and may be seen as offensive by some.

Offensive really? Is it part of the American culture? Genuinely curious.

Nothing to do with American culture - I'm not American. It's about speculating about what might hypothetically have prevented the death that we're talking about, when we have absolutely no idea what was going on in that person's life, hence we're in no position to speculate.

Thoughts and prayers to his family!

Anyone know what the addiction was? given kidney involvement i'm leaning towards alcohol, but don't want to assume. I know it's cliche to say, but asking for a friend.

A loss for a lot of people, especially his young family.

I’m not sure why it matters, but it wasn’t just one thing he struggled with. Out of respect for him, I’m not going to say more than that.

fwiw I'm literally asking for a friend. that's why it matters.

Every person’s situation is different, so I’m not sure why one person’s addiction matters for your friend. That was my point in saying that.

That said, ping me privately, my contact info is in my profile. I’ll do what I can to help.

thanks for the downvotes to a serious question. real great community here.

Upvoting this. I’d like to know, too. :3

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