In our continuing series of Voices of Recovery, we follow Danny’s slide into addiction. Battling addiction to crack cocaine and crystal meth, Danny resorts to dealing drugs to support his habit. In part 3, Danny’s slide toward homeless takes a risky turn….
I was dealing drugs and using drugs but was smart enough to keep the amounts I was buying into smaller amounts. I probably could have started dealing larger amounts but I was aware and cognizant of the fact that the more drugs you had the more trouble you would get into with either the law or some other dealer. With that it was easier for me to make a couple of runs a week to get a smaller amount and distribute that to the people who were buying from me. It was almost like a well run machine or a system I guess you could say. And because I had my “system,” I never thought or realized I was a full blown drug addict and a Teen Recovery program was the furthest thing from my mind. If they were my friends with whom I knew personally, they would come over and we would watch TV or play video games and pick up what they wanted. If I didn’t know them that well or didnt trust them I would meet in a parking lot of a local grocery store.
A False Sense of Security when Dealing Drugs
In my own head, I felt safe and comfortable with the system because of the small amounts I was dealing and the way I handled the business. I knew when I could use, I knew when I couldn’t use. I knew how much I could deal and never went over to a level that made it far more risky, and with this it kind of made me feel like I was still in control.
This was a bit before everyone had a cell phone so I carried a pager around that I bought and paid with my own money. I was probably the only kid in high school who carried a pager and paid it for with own money. I was probably making anywhere from $200-$500 per deal and making 3,4,5 deals every day. As a high school kid it really skewed by idea of the value of the dollar and since you had no idea about rent, or bills, or investing it basically means just buying a lot of video game systems and material items. With this wad of cash I was going to concerts and taking out girls and paying for my group of friends to party with on weekends and buying stuff just to buy stuff.
“I went off the deep end with my Addiction”
Eventually, my contacts in the drug world got arrested themselves for drug dealing. Because they were mentors or kind of like a pseudo parental figure or family that kept my drug use in check, I had no reason to hide my own use. There were no more eyes to keep me in check or hide my use, I went off the deep end and started regularly smoking crack. I was maybe 20 years old at that time. Because my drug connections were gone, and my friends were off to college, I wasn’t making the money I once was and really went full bore on crack. This was really the slide towards the bottom. At that point I never could have imagined how some Orange County Drug Treatment Center would save my life. At that point I was basically living on the streets in LA smoking crack and hustling for enough cash to buy my next rock. Guys would be pulling guns on me and I would drop a few names of well known gang members and they would leave me alone.
Life on Auto-Pilot
I kind of refer to that period of my life as the “auto pilot” years. I do not remember that much about it, other than using crack or selling crack and in the few moments of clarity I would realize I was in the worst part of LA selling drugs. In a recent blog about cocaine addiction, there was debate on how real addiction really is, but in my case there was no question- I was a full blown addict and my binges were complete blurs that lasted days. It was like what alcoholics refer to as a blackout, in that I don’t have any memories of day to day activities other than selling or dealing and my crack cocaine usage began to become binges that would last for months. I was literally just “gone.” I would stay up for days and eventually my body would just give out and I would pass out somewhere. I would wake up and find myself in a car or a motel room. Once I woke up, the whole process would start again with another huge bender.
Because I had no real home or apartment to do laundry or take the occasional shower, at times I began to take on a pretty rough look. And I remember that eventually when my clothes got to the point they had an unbearable, horrible smell I would simply go to some department store, but a new set of clothes, throw my old clothes in the trash…and once again be off using. Once I finally became clean, I actually didn’t know how to do laundry and had to be taught how to use a clothes washer and dryer.