Prison and Drug Dealing

The author recently interviewed an imprisoned former drug dealer about his activities on the streets, why he dealt drugs, and why he abused them. The following conversation ensued, and the author obtained permission to publish their interview:

“Why did you get into drug dealing in the first place?”

“I wanted the money. At first, it was only about the money, but of course I had to test the product to make sure it was good before I sold it to someone else. You cannot be a successful dealer if you pawn second-rate stuff off onto someone else who paid good money for it. At first, it was only testing it, but I soon got into it and was strung out for years.”

“Do you think that prison has helped curb your drug dealing? I know it is possible to still obtain drugs while in prison.”

“Yes and no. I shifted drugs for the first two years of being in here, but then I cleaned up my act and only drank after that. Recently, I decided to try to stop drinking, too. I’ve been sober for six months now.”

“Did you always drink at the same time you did drugs?”

“Yeah, I mean, of course. It’s a stressful job, the cops always after you, and you never know when someone down the line might rat you out so that they can get an easier fine or prison sentence. It’s stressful and if I wasn’t high as a kite, I was drunk as a dog.”

“Do you believe that prison has fully rehabilitated you?”

“Rehabilitated? No. Given me time to straighten out some facts and get some of my life straightened out? Yeah, of course. There’s nothing about this place that really changes you, but it allows you to sort some stuff out so that you can plan for the next changes you’ll make in your life. Of course, once we’re back out on the streets, that’s a different matter.”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean, you know, it’s not the same as in here. Every time we leave prison, the world is a little faster, a little less understandable. We always go back to what we were doin before, just cuz it’s easier to make a buck than to speed up on the outside.”

“Does that mean that you will always be a drug dealer?”

“Yeah, kinda. I mean, when you don’t have the resources, you gotta get them somehow. When you get them and try to settle down, the only thing you’re really good at is buying and selling. And there’s always a market for that stuff, and it always sells real well.”

“Do you think that you’ll also return to drug abuse?”

“Now that depends. You can walk out of here with the best intentions, but when that stress kicks in and you start to slip a little, then the drugs come out, and you feel better real fast.”

“Have you ever done anything dangerous while under the influence of drugs or alcohol?”

“Yeah, I killed a woman. Then, I killed a couple of guys since I’ve been in here. That’s why my sentence is so long.”

“Do you have any advice for anyone who might be on the brink of drug abuse or who might be turning it into a full-time addiction? Or alcohol?”

“Yeah, I got something. That stuff will screw you up. It’s easy to use that stuff when everything on the outside of your body is safe and well fed and well assured. You only destroy your insides. You can burn up your body all you want, and everything outside of your body, in the world around you…it’s reliable, and you can fight back. When you complete the destruction inside, though, and you do something stupid to get yourself in here [prison]…it’s not safe on the outside anymore. Everywhere you go, whoever you talk to, whatever you do, you have to watch yourself so carefully. It’s no longer safe. If you thought it was dangerous and you were being real bad on the streets, come to prison. You’ll see just how bad it can get.”

“Thank you.”

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