We talk a lot about alcoholism and drug addiction, but there are inevitably those among us who played a somewhat more active role in the drug world. While others were simply buying and using their drugs of choice, some of us were actively dealing drugs and keeping others addicted. We may have seen this as a victimless crime—after all, they would’ve just gotten the drugs somewhere else. But then, there are many of us who will often feel a tinge of guilt for our former “careers” once we have entered recovery.
Not only that, but some of us may long to return to our old ways of life. We may find that, since we have stopped dealing drugs, we have undergone certain changes that do not appeal to us. We may struggle to find new employment, especially if we have been convicted in the past. We will also suffer the loss of many people who we previously considered our friends, only to find that they have quickly abandoned us once we could no longer offer them what they wanted. This is a most unfortunate turn of events, but most former drug dealers will experience it to some degree.
If we wish to remain sober, then we obviously cannot return to dealing drugs for a living. We must be done away with this pursuit entirely, fully committed to sobriety. This “job” is one to which we can never return, or we will certainly relapse. Not only that, but there is no way for a person to try and hook other addicts while recovering from their own addiction. This is the antithesis of an honest program. As such, we must endeavor to understand the dangers of dealing drugs, as well as the many gains we stand to encounter once we have let go of this particular way of life.
The Dangers of Dealing Drugs
Depending upon the drugs you are selling and the neighborhood in which you are doing so, dealing drugs can be quite literally dangerous. There are many shady characters involved in the drug trade, people who will not hesitate to put a gun to your head and rob you of your stock. And even if you give them what they want, some of them may be all too ready to pull that trigger. Needless to say, your life will be far better without such people in it.
But aside from the physical danger, dealing drugs can endanger other parts of your life as well. Assuming you get robbed, what will happen to your income? If you get caught, how long will you be in jail? This is an even bigger concern if there are people in your life who depend upon you. While your family may be better off without a drug dealer in the home, they will not be better off knowing that someone they love is spending the night in a jail cell. Dealing drugs hurts your relationships with those you love, and it additionally hurts them on a very emotional level that will be difficult for them to forget.
In other words, dealing drugs is not the easy cash grab that it may seem to be. Yes, you are making money without generally having to put forth much effort (unless you’re involved in a pretty heavy side of the trade). But you are also putting yourself and those you love at great risk in the process. Not only is dealing drugs incompatible with relapse prevention, but it is also incompatible with the very notion of living a fulfilling life. Once you get out of the game and begin experiencing the benefits of sober living, you will learn this lesson like never before.
Embracing Financial Stability
If you have been dealing drugs for some time, then it may be hard to get a normal job once you have decided to quit. There are likely large gaps in your résumé, gaps that will be hard to explain to potential employers. You may have to accept a job that you do not want, doing hard labor or working a menial position for minimum wage. And at first, you might not see the benefit.
The benefits of this sort of living come later, once your hard work has begun to pay off. After you have established yourself as a useful and hard-working employee, further positions may begin to open up. We know at least one former drug dealer whose first job in sobriety was behind the counter of a gas station. Within a year, he was an assistant manager. Today, he is a regional manager who gets to travel to different cities and work in various locations. He has experienced a pay increase and now works fewer hours, all because he was willing to put in the work.
More importantly, the young man of whom we speak is not constantly worrying about whether or not he can trust a new customer. And while he may technically still worry that someone might come into work and rob the store, this robbery will not leave him depleted of his only source of income. He is experiencing financial stability on a whole new level, all because he had the maturity to admit that his old way of life was not working for him. This can happen for you, too. You just need the willingness to break your old routine and strive for something new.
Resolving Our Legal Issues
Aside from possible gaps in your résumé, one possible obstacle to gaining decent employment might be an extensive legal history. Many addicts and alcoholics have already found themselves dealing with numerous legal issues as a result of their use, but those who have spent some time dealing drugs may have it far worse. If you have been convicted for dealing drugs in the past, then it may take a lot of effort to find places who are willing to hire you.
Those who find sobriety in our programs will at least have a bit of leverage in this regard, as we help our patients out by setting them up with our court liaison to receive a bit of extra legal help. Those who are willing to stay sober will often receive a bit of leeway from most court systems, especially if they are willing to spend some time in a sober living facility after they have graduated from treatment. This way, the courts will know that they are living around other sober people and can be subjected to drug screenings if they are ever suspected of using.
In other words, responsibility and accountability go a long way toward resolving your legal issues if you have been convicted of dealing drugs. You may be perceived as a liability at first, but enough time in sobriety will help to show people that you are serious about turning your life around and starting with a clean slate. You may still face some stigma, but at least you will know that you have gotten yourself back on the right track. And as you approach each challenge with the confidence you’ve gained from this knowledge, employers and judges alike will begin to trust you a bit better.
The Rebirth of Our Social Lives
The great thing about the trust you will gain after you have quit dealing drugs is that it applies to more than just people such as employers. Not only will the people you need in your life begin to trust you, but so will the people you want in your life. And let’s face it—while you may have been abandoned by some of your former friends after you quit dealing drugs, these are not the type of friends in which you should be placing your faith. Real friends do not abandon you for doing the right thing and trying to improve your life. With friends like these, you are essentially living a life of isolation without even knowing it.
Once you have quit dealing drugs, you will begin to gain the kinds of friends who like you for who you are rather than what you’re selling. You will meet genuine, honest people who speak in earnest when they say that they are glad to have met you. And if you are used to people for whom deceit is second nature, then you will be glad to have met them as well. Furthermore, while you may meet the bulk of these friends in AA or NA when you are first entering recovery, you will find that you come across as more trustworthy with people outside the program as well. It may take some time, but you will begin to exude a sense of contentment that draws people in and makes them want to be around you. Once you have done this, and have repaired some of your past relationships that suffered while you were dealing drugs, you will establish a strong support system of friends and family that may have previously been lost to you.
It’s your decision, and it’s one that only you can make. Maybe you’re not the kind of person who wants to get sober and live an honest life. Maybe you’re the kind of person who wants to have an empire. Just remember that Tony Montana had an empire in Scarface. Walter White had an empire in Breaking Bad. Is that how you want your story to end? We would sincerely hope not.