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RAW INTERVIEW: Former drug dealer explains how easy it is to buy and sell illegal drugs online

I grew up in California in Orange County

and right around the tail end of high

school beginning of college I was

experimenting with drugs and I realized

specifically that opioids painkillers

made me feel a certain way that I'd

never felt before

you know and

it felt like it was something that I was

missing my whole life you know and it

was not very long from that point until

I was in now the full grip of an

addiction and you know that was that was

a solid a few years of my life until I

got sober I well I started trying to get

sober in about 2011 and it was still a

few years you know of really wanting to

get sober but not under estimating how

much effort that would take you know

and

I ended up getting sober three and a

half years ago and graduating from

college and getting work as a Content

writer and so it's been a very rewarding

but definitely a tough road I was doing

some community service I had got caught

buying alcohol with a fake ID when I was

like 19 or or so

and I remember it had been after a

stretch of using oxycodone and everyday

for a while and this one day I was I was

on the side of the freeway picking up

trash doing community service

and I realized that I just felt terrible

like flu symptoms and I simultaneously

realized hey this is the first time I

haven't used pills for a whole day for a

while

and my brain immediately drew the

connection and I said oh wow this is my

life now you know like this is this is

my ball and chain now and it was it was

that was a really scary moment you know

and and that fear of withdrawal was

something that became a massive hurdle

in my getting clean for the rest of my

time using because it's it's it's it's

extremely you know painful and and and

difficult to get through that now my

struggles look a little bit different I

struggle with relationships I struggle

with

uh work you know I struggle with money

sure I have cravings once in a while but

what that type of struggle looks like at

three and a half years sober is a lot

different than what that type of

struggle looks like at three days sober

or three months sober you know well I

went to a high school where drugs were

sort of around I don't know what the

other high schools in the area were like

or

but I always had a pretty easy time

finding other people that were

experimenting with drugs and you know in

the high school and early college times

it was there was still a sense of

innocence a little bit about it where I

maybe didn't realize how serious the

things that I was experimenting with

were and

it it was it was quite a while after

that of you know meeting people that

were serious drug dealers getting

connections from other dealers or other

people that used and it was sort of a

road from that to going online to try

and find it

I first heard about Craigslist because I

saw it on the news that there was people

selling drugs on Craigslist and my

immediate thought was wow that's a

really dumb thing to do who would put

their information out like that not even

encrypted with no no sort of privacy or

protection against you know law

enforcement and stuff

but you know the thing about opioids and

another drug similar to it is that

once you get addicted you can't really

stop so if your supply runs out you're

gonna start getting real creative out

ways to find your fix and that's sort of

what it took for me was not not being

able to find it through my traditional

means of you my usual dealer or going to

downtown LA or you know finding it the

way that I usually could and starting to

get sick and thinking

well you know now that I now that I feel

you know absolutely terrible maybe that

Craigslist thing doesn't look so bad and

you just get desperate enough to want to

try it and

you know the way it really gets its

hooks in you specifically this issue is

that it's a it's a matter of extreme

convenience you know it's it's totally

anonymous you don't need to know

anything about these people they don't

need to know anything about you you

respond to an ad online and you and you

pick up whatever drug it is that you're

looking for and that that was one thing

that made it incredibly hard to walk

away from - was knowing how easy it

could be to get that fix again there was

not one time where I went to buy or sell

drugs with with someone that I met on a

Craigslist ad and there and and drove to

it without thinking in half an hour from

now I could be

getting high and feeling great or a

sheriff could be walking me through the

front door of county jail

you know it felt it really felt like a

50/50 shot every time I did it and that

also speaks to the desperation of the

addict

of what you're willing to do when you're

in that place of

you know absolute dependence

and you'll do you know whatever even

even risk the rest to get what you feel

like you need and so anytime I was

selling something on Craigslist I tried

to be as subtle as possible to disguise

words to use slang to give as little

information as possible

obviously never give your name or

location but you know I truly think that

if there was any law enforcement at any

time that really wanted to find someone

selling on Craigslist they could find

them there's no amount of disguising

your name or you know hiding your

location that that they can't get around

but

the thing about the thing about this

stuff too is that especially when I was

selling it's only something you need to

worry about for maybe a couple hours

because the second you put that ad up

online hey I've got X amount of whatever

people are immediately getting in touch

with you and you're sold out of it

pretty quick and then you can just

delete the ad and act like nothing ever

happened I don't think that this I don't

think Craigslist is the problem I think

Craigslist is a symptom of the problem

because

you know it's it's like it's like that

myth of the Hydra the multi-headed

dragon it's like once you've cut off one

head then the other one grows back so

you know maybe maybe we can get good

monitoring of Craigslist and get good at

law enforcement involvement on

Craigslist and people stop using

Craigslist as a way to get illegal drugs

and potentially hurt themselves but what

about snapchat what about whatsapp what

about Facebook message you know or any a

number of other places that could pop up

and potentially be an option for these

people you know that's the big problem

to me what do I think the fix is well

you know it's it's really hard to say

because we've never really faced

anything quite like what we're facing

right now and we can see it on smaller

skills in countries like the Netherlands

where they have great harm reduction and

decriminalization programs I believe in

in Holland it's called the rainbow

clinic where you can just go get a fix

of heroin and they'll shoot you up and I

think the Netherlands has like 25

million people and something like 10,000

heroin addicts which is pretty good

numbers compared to a city like

Baltimore here in the United States

which last time I checked the CDC

numbers had a population of like under

700,000 and close to 60,000 addicts so

that's like 10% you know so I would like

to think that some type of harm

reduction or

decriminalization method of rather than

criminalizing the addict and chasing

them into alleys and putting handcuffs

on them maybe we can like get the

mountain to the open and talk to them

about

what's a way to move forward and and and

rather than giving this to the cartels

and the black-market we bring it out in

the open and we try to find a viable

method of counseling and whatever else

we can do to help these people rather

than treat them like criminals I mean

it's hard to say it's it's hard to say

where anything's going with the internet

because I think there isn't any one

among us that's not surprised with how

far it's come and and what's changed I

don't see what one thing I don't see is

I don't see law enforcement suddenly

getting involved and getting everything

under control you know I mean here like

I moved to Salt Lake City and Craigslist

isn't really used here they have like

the ksl

classifieds which I think that they have

a little bit of an easier time

moderating and keeping it from getting

out of hand so maybe that's that's the

solution is treating this at a local

level rather than trying to get a whole

big entity like Craigslist or Facebook

or snapchat to control the problem it's

hard to say though certainly I think

it's it's it's something that we should

be putting resources towards because

I've heard entirely too many stories

about people overdosing and dying and

then their family member looks on their

phone and realized that they had just

bought whatever they had purchased you

know online and it seems so preventable

it seems like something that we could so

easily intervene and help with and in

many cases I think it's it's just

ignorant that causes it to not be acted

on so

yeah absolutely I think it's something

that that would be good to devote

resources to because

you know this is this is here this is

something that's going to stay I don't

think this is a phase I don't think this

is something that's going to go out of

style and people are just gonna stop

doing you know it seems like something

that's only increased in in the years

that it's been going on it was a higher

ultimatum for myself than just buying or

selling it was it was that if I don't

stop using I'm going to die and and that

was evidenced by you know the 13 or so

friends that I've seen die from this and

and the stories I read about it every

day and just seeing where my life was

going ending ending up and Rehab ending

up in jail losing jobs getting in the

car accidents you know just utter chaos

and misery and and really knowing that

the way that I was trying to go about

changing or fixing my life wasn't

working and that it was it was really

time to

give up and try something else

I mean I was caught doing other things

and I think that

certain extent that type of punishment

can definitely be a motivator for

someone to stay out of trouble and I

think that you can change your life from

getting arrested but I think in most

cases long-term sobriety has to come

from a more personal place than that

it's you're probably not gonna stay

sober your whole life just out of fear

you probably need to address some more

intimate personal problems that you have

with yourself in order to really keep

and enjoy long-term sobriety you know I

talked to a US Army veteran one time and

he was telling me about how at that time

you know there was a lot of heroin

coming from Afghanistan and there is

troops dying over there and

and there's a clear connection you know

and

thinking about the fact that like I'm

over here shooting up while these guys

are trying to die or dart are dying to

defend my rights

that that really hurt me you know and

and seeing seeing people pass I went to

the funeral of a 19 year old friend that

overdosed a couple years ago and it was

like he he never had a chance to really

live his life you know he went to high

school he graduated

and he that was pretty much it and

knowing people like that and meeting the

parents of people like that I think

really really changes your perspective

and

and and maybe money isn't the most

important thing in the world if if

you're making good money selling drugs

then maybe you're satisfying that but

what else are you putting into the world

that that maybe you don't see

I think the momentum of the process is

what keeps you going because the longer

you stay sober more better honest

relationships you have the more

opportunities you get at work because

you're working harder and you're being

honest and you're being accountable the

more fun you have so a lot of things I

mean my life has changed pretty

dramatically since getting sober I moved

to Utah I bought a house I have a good

job I have a couple cats and a

girlfriend and and I have a great life

and definitely these are not things that

I would have if I was still using so I

think all of that keeps me going