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My name is Jim Dickey and I have been in recovery for 34 years.  I have first-hand experience with all of the major drug groups which were available between 1965, when I was attending UC Berkeley, and 1989, when I was homeless, jobless and penniless.

I dabbled in heroin use in the late 1960’s and was completely and utterly addicted from 1977 to August, 1989. In those years I can’t possibly count the number of people who died or had the light literally go out of their eyes from overdoses. I only wish there was some way they could be here.

The song is about Syd Barrett, who was the original frontman and chief songwriter of Pink Floyd, who left the group in 1968 after his mental and physical health deteriorated because of heavy drug use.

Thinking I Could Tell Heaven From Hell

I started dealing pot soon after I started attending U. C. Berkeley in 1965 and used and sold all of the standard hippy drugs of the 1960’s. I needed a way to make enough money to keep myself in food and being a dealer seemed to be the right way to go at the time. There were periods in my Freshman year when I had been taking out-of-date sandwiches from a garbage can used by a store located right in front of the entrance to the University at the intersection of Bancroft and Telegraph. Prior to selling drugs I had developed a nasty rash because I had gone through months of eating nothing but rice, and besides, I loved the drugs. Throughout my career as a drug dealer, I was mostly successful and prosperous, although there were times towards the end of my using days where I was penniless, needy and desperate. I was lucky enough to know many of the smaller “mom and pop” independent smugglers and was together enough and honest enough that they trusted me and fronted me large quantities of drugs on an ongoing basis.

I was arrested four times. Once early in my career while I was attending U. C. Berkeley four of us got popped for marijuana and the cops threatened to deport one of the girls and her family back to Denmark, since they were not yet citizens. I had brought the pot to share and they told me if I confessed they would let everyone else go, so I did. The result was a conviction and I was given diversion, a program where if you stayed out of trouble with the law and went through some kind of rehabilitation program, they would delete the conviction from your record. I remember when I was in the Berkeley jail I saved all the ashes from my cigarettes (that’s right, you could smoke in your holding cell back then) and I mixed the ashes with spit and drew a giant sad face on the wall. When my jailer saw it he admonished me that I could be charged with defacing public property and I told him if he got me a brush and water I would clean the wall. He said he really liked the “artwork” and wanted me to just leave it there because it looked so poignant.

My next bust happened in the 1970’s when I was selling to a friend of mine by the name of Bob. Bob had some customers who were looking for a kilo of coke. He and I were just middle men in this deal and he was selling to a couple of guys he had been introduced to by a “trusted” friend. I met him at this well- known restaurant called the Merritt Bakery Restaurant and fronted him an ounce to show the buyers so they could test for quality. He gave me the money they had fronted him and I took off to the suppliers house to await their decision. When I left the restaurant I noticed a car rushing down the street who then stopped to let me go out of the parking lot driveway. I found this to be pretty strange and my spidey sense took over. I proceeded to the freeway and was checking my rear view mirror on a continual basis. When I got to the stop light right before the freeway entrance, I timed it so I went through the yellow light at the last possible second and sped onto the freeway. I noticed five or six cars go through the red light and on to the on ramp about five seconds after that, so I knew what was up. I made some moves on the freeway while I considered whether to throw the money out of the window and made the wrong decision. I don’t know what I was thinking of.  I grew up blue collar and I couldn’t get myself to throw $1600 out of the car. I thought maybe I had lost them all with my fancy driving, but the next thing I knew a car pulled right in front of me and slammed on it’s brakes. It was all I could do to not ram him. The DEA agent jumped out of his car, gun drawn, and shouted “Don’t move! Hands in the air!” He got into the car and started questioning me and he was actually a pretty nice guy. I read a newspaper article several years later and he had attained an upper level job in the DEA administration. He said he had pulled me over rather than try to follow me to my supplier because he was the last car who had eyes on me. During my interrogation, Red, an Oakland police officer who had participated in the operation, told me if I would let him know who I was going to get the coke from then he would let me go, but I refused. I was held over the weekend and then made bail, but it was a pretty uncomfortable weekend, because shortly before this time I had become addicted to heroin. I got a lawyer who had defended the Hell’s Angels and Jimmy Hoffa at points in his career and we were able to get the charges dropped as I had no drugs on me and there were multiple explanations as to why I could have had the money on me, such as I loaned my friend Bob some money so he could do a drug deal and he was just paying me back. My lawyer asked me if I was sure Bob would not testify against me and I told him I was and it turned out that my judgement of Bob’s integrity was spot on, thankfully. Bob did eighteen months. My lawyer bills and having to stop all my business activities for the length of the trial resulted in my having to move out of my home in the Oakland hills. Sigh.

Except at the moment of our birth and the moment of our death, we are always in the middle of things. We have no perspective or way of judging what things mean or evaluating their effect upon us. We have no way of knowing what is good for us or what is bad for us; what is a boon or what is a disaster. We only know the truth of the moment, and sometimes even then we are just fooling ourselves.

So it was with me. I had been living in an upper floor apartment in a fourplex in Oakland for a couple of years. My smuggler friend had brought in a load that I had been working off of and I had a large clientele and a thriving business. I was paying $200 a gram for pure, smokable Persian heroin and was able to sell it for $400 per gram. I lived with a woman (let’s call her A.) in her apartment and we had about three women staying with us who were companions that sometimes helped out in my business and with whom I shared my drugs. At the time I was consuming large amounts of freebase cocaine and the Persian heroin which we all smoked on foil, a practice known as “chasing the dragon”. Among my customers was a black couple from Indiana and they came over early one evening and said they had a customer they could sell to and they wanted to know if I would front them a gram to bring over to this potential customer so that they could see if they could strike up a business relationship with them. I said okay after thinking about it for a bit, weighed out the gram and gave it to them. They said they would be back within a couple of hours.

Two hours went by, then four. I began to think I had been played. The wife finally called me and said not to worry but they were just taking longer to make their decision than was expected. I said I was uncomfortable with this and asked them where I could meet them so that we could talk about it. She gave me a location on a corner in Oakland. The five of us who were there at the house jumped in the car and drove on over. I parked the car and waited. By this time it was probably around 9 PM and dark out. I could see cars going in and out of this cluster of seven or eight bungalows right in the middle of the block. The cars were all big, shiny expensive rides and they would go into the driveway which circled around the bungalows away from the street. They had several spotters on the street and I am sure our presence was reported. Finally the wife came out and got into the car and said everything was okay and that we would be able to make lots of money if they decided to push my product. She said she had to go back and suggested I just wait a little bit longer and they would come out with the money. She went back and another hour or two went bye. Finally her husband came out and said that they liked the product but they were still deciding if they could sell it or not. I became angry at him and I said, “What the fuck is going on? This is taking way too long and it wasn’t what you and I agreed upon.” He looked at me and I could sense this was an awkward and unpleasant situation for him. He said, “Look, there’s really nothing I can do. They’re passing my wife around in there and they are all taking turns on her.” At the time I was short on empathy and unnerved by the situation and I said to him, “How could you involve me with such people?” When I think back on it, I am ashamed of my self-centeredness. She was evidently getting fucked into the gang, but I did not think about his or her welfare for a second.

At this time in Oakland gangs were fairly racially divided. There were Latino gangs, black gangs and some white biker gangs and other white smuggling groups like The Brotherhood and others. The Latino guys specialized, partly, in pot, cocaine and Mexican heroin. The black gangs were mostly into crack and heroin, but they were also into anything which would make them money. The biker gangs specialized in the production and sales of meth, LSD and pills. Approximately ten years before this time there had been some friction between a biker gang and the East Coast mafia over ergotamine tartrate, the chemical precursor to LSD. People who were involved in manufacturing LSD were involved with the gang and they were buying the precursor in Europe, where it was still legal, and smuggling it into the States. I knew several people who were involved in the smuggling. Another connection I had to all this was that one of my lovers had spent the night with the biker involved in LSD sales. She was at his house in the Oakland hills and he got up to investigate a noise and he got shot in the back of the head with a 22, a signature mafia hit. Soon after that, Francis A. Ragusa; his wife, Jennifer, and his sister, Marianne were all murdered (again in the Oakland hills) and two million dollars of ergotamine tartrate, along with some cash and around 200,000 LSD tablets were found stashed in the house. The word was this was retribution for the previous murder as well as evidence of a struggle for the acid trade.

In any case, back to my story. The black gang that I had come into contact with was one of about seven or eight black organizations that pretty much ran things in Oakland and had connections with the Oakland Police Department, as did all of the other gangs. I was an independent and was in no position to be a threat to any of these gangs and I tried very hard not to be involved in any of the warfare which occasionally broke out. I was just a guy with several good smuggling connections and a fairly good business but I was not making millions of dollars like most of these other groups.

I waited a few more hours and dawn broke and then I went and I drove my car into the driveway that led to the bungalows and we all rolled down the windows and started yelling and screaming that they had cheated me and they should all go fuck themselves. There was an old black woman out watering her garden in front of one of the bungalows and she looked up at me and she said “You a crazy white boy!”. I soon found out just how right she was.

A few weeks went by and then I began to see cars behind me with shortwave radio antennas and I suspected that maybe I was being followed by the police. Then I noticed that all of the people in the cars that I suspected of following me were black. I mentioned this to my girlfriend, but she just thought I was being paranoid. This was not such a wild idea on her part as I was smoking so much freebase cocaine that I frequently did get paranoid. I remember once checking into a motel on San Pablo Ave. in a fairly ratty part of Oakland with a briefcase full of money and drugs and smoking coke base for a few hours and getting myself into a fearful frenzy. I thought I could hear someone turning the door knob and I grabbed my stuff and retreated into the bathroom and locked the door and started screaming at the top of my lungs to “Call the police. They’re trying to kill me!!!” Luckily, it was the type of motel where no one really cared and nobody called the police.

One day my girlfriend and I came back to the fourplex and there were about four guys working on installing carpet on the stairway leading up to her apartment. We said hi to them, walked on up and went into her apartment and closed the door. People started calling us to make arrangements to come by and buy dope. We pretty much sold everything that we had except for two “get well“ lines on my Ohaus Triple Beam scale for each of us to smoke to make sure she and I did not go into withdrawal. We had sex and then she went to sleep and I stayed out in the front room looking at TV. The next thing I knew, there was a knock at our door followed immediately by the door being smashed in and police flooding into the apartment with drawn guns yelling “Police! Don’t move!” I jumped up and started to run into the bedroom so that I could get rid of the little bit of heroin that remained but when I saw the guns I stopped because I was afraid they would shoot me if I kept running.

They brought my girlfriend on out to the front room and commenced to search the house. I asked them if it would be OK if we got dressed, since we were both still naked, and one of the cops said sure and in general after the mayhem of them breaking in it was all fairly calm and not super scary or anything. They found hardly any heroin as we had sold it all already. I realize that these were the guys who had been on the stairs and they talked about how we had a pretty thriving business. It was a Friday and so they booked us into the Alameda county jail in Oakland (which is no longer used”) and she and I had a delightful weekend going through withdrawal until Monday morning when they lowered our bail and we were able to get out. Friday busts by Oakland police were a common event because they knew we would be hurting and it would (1) make us suffer and be more likely to quit using and/or (2) it would make us easier to manipulate. I don’t know which was more important to them but in general, I found they were not too concerned with the wellbeing of junkies.

I got in touch with my smuggler and told him what had happened. I also told him that I had not mentioned his name or in any way compromised him. He said I could forget about the money that I owed him and that they had confiscated and he fronted me another batch of heroin. My girlfriend and I then went around staying with friends and continued to deal heroin in order to get back on our feet. I kept telling my girlfriend that I was pretty sure we were being followed but that I did not think it was cops as every one of the people was black and Oakland police were still pretty white. We were staying at a particular friend’s house and she said, “Oh that’s a bunch of bullshit and I’m going to go jump in the truck and drive around and see if I’m getting followed.” Well she took off and came back about 45 minutes later and she was totally freaked out and said that she had seen the tail also. It was a very sophisticated operation and I had a certain amount of admiration for them because they were just doing standard procedures for any kind of military/police organization. One car would follow us for eight or 10 blocks and then turn off and then, at the next intersection, another car would start following us for another eight or 10 blocks. They must’ve had between four and six people on us at all times. The people that we were staying with said they did not want us to continue to stay there because they did not want to get arrested and I told them I didn’t think it was the cops. They gave us a piece of furniture with a hidey hole built-in so that we could stash our drugs and money and we loaded the stuff into the truck that we were driving and took off. A short time later several cars pulled up in front of their house and my friends took off out the back door with their drugs and money.

It went on like this for about a month and a half. We would find a place to stay and we wouldn’t see any shortwave radio antennas for a while and then after about three days they would show up again and we would realize we were being followed. One thing that was weird was that we could say things about where we were going while we were in the truck and the next thing I knew we would go there but they would actually have anticipated our arrival. I realize they had a listening device and a location device within the truck somewhere. Once I realize this, I talked to my girlfriend while we were in the truck and I said “You know I wish we could talk to them. I would like to find out what they want or what their goal is.” I then suggested we go to this bar called George and Walt‘s and sit down and have a drink. We left our dog in the truck and went into George and Walt‘s and sat down at a table. Within about 30 minutes a short black guy in an ermine full length cape backed by two giant bodyguards walked into the bar, which was packed, and walked past our table and sat down. They did not make eye contact with me or say anything when they walked past. I figured they would walk up to me and invite me to sit at their table so we could talk. About 15 minutes went by and then they walked out again. My girlfriend and I walked back to our truck and the dog had been let out of the cab and our stuff had been tossed but they did not find our stash. We got the dog back in the truck and drove off. I don’t know what would’ve happened if I would’ve went up and tried to talk to them but it seem like our one opportunity to do that was now gone.

My girlfriend and I showed up at a preliminary hearing for our court case and one of the cops that had been part of the group that had arrested us signaled for me to sit next to him. I sat down and he said, “Well you look a lot healthier than the last time I saw you.” I had been eating better and I was cleaned up for court so I’m sure I did. He asked me if I knew why they had busted us and I said no, and then he told me that the woman downstairs had complained to the apartment manager about all the noise and traffic and my dealing and the manager had notified the police. I looked at him and said, “I decided a long time ago that if I had to hurt people in order to do what I did, then it wasn’t worth doing.“ Unfortunately, in the drug world I had chosen, I was doomed to middle-management. I was never willing to kill or hurt people in order to conduct my business.

I continued moving around and dealing but eventually I began to worry that I was going to get robbed by them, so I went over to a friend’s house and asked him if I could put my money and drugs into this giant safe that he had and he said that would be fine. I would take just enough drugs to do my business for three or four days and then go back to his house and put the money into the safe and take the drugs out so I could keep dealing. After three or four weeks of this something happened which would change everything. While I was out doing my business activities, some black guys came to his door and told him that he would have to give them everything that was in the safe or they would have to fuck him up. He gave them $87,000 of my money and the remainder of a pound of pure come-to-Jesus coke that I had been selling along with the rest of the heroin that I was working off of. This ultimately led to my business falling completely apart.

At the time it was a tragedy. We went through an extended period where we were going through withdrawal most of the time, except for little dribs and drabs every once in a while that would get us straight just long enough to maintain our habit and then we would go into withdrawal again. My smuggler friend had no more dope for me and was not planning on making another run anytime soon. For the next five years things got progressively worse and this period of time is part of what made me decide to get out of that life and change. Truth be told, if this hadn’t happened I probably would’ve died addicted to that stuff. Even though I suffered for a long period of time after this, it was transformative. I sometimes suspected that we got arrested because gang members had informed on us to their pals at the OPD but I can never really be sure of what was going on as far as they were concerned, except that I knew they had taken my money and product and around the same time, A. and I got popped in Oakland. Her lawyer requested that our cases be separated and we both eventually got convicted and put on probation. She went back to live with her parents for a while and cleaned up and got involved in the 12-Step program. I hired a great lawyer who got me diversion (for a second time, which is unheard of) and I did no time at all. I wasn’t quite ready to quit yet, but I was beginning that journey and looking back upon it now, I am filled with gratitude for everything that happened. Losing that money and getting busted were the best possible things that could have happened to me. I was just in the middle, without perspective or understanding. I am still in the middle, but I rarely experience fear or anxiety over it. For the most part, I live in acceptance and do not fight against what is.

During the last five years of my addiction I was desperate to stop using heroin and was convinced that if I kept making good money dealing I was never going to be able to stop and I started introducing all of the people who bought from me to all of the people I bought from or to other dealers who were at about the same level as myself. As a result I no longer had enough money to afford my habit and was dope-sick on an almost daily basis. During this period of time all the cliches of being strung out became a part of my life. My parents were kind enough to let me live with them for a while and I stole from them. They still stuck by me and helped me get into Newbridge. I cheated people in drug deals. I did almost anything I could to avoid getting dope sick.

The following is a story from that period of my life.

Hope to Die Junky

I remember pooling my money together with other junkies, people who were slowly dissolving into death, and we’d get into a car and drive to cop some dope. I had run out myself, and my smuggler was out of country buying a load to bring into the country. These trips were dangerous for us because if some patrol cops saw us we were easy pickings. They would stop us and toss us and see what fell out. Even now, I love the phrases of that life. For a cop to toss us, he would go through our pockets and search the car and if they found something illegal one or all of us would be taken in. Or, alternatively, our money and drugs would be taken and we were told they were going to let us go because they didn’t want to fill out the paperwork and that we were “lucky”. Toss us, as in through us up into the air and see what fell out. If nothing was found they would give us some reason for stopping us like “You didn’t signal for the turn” or “You were driving too fast” or “You were driving too slow” or “Your tail light was out”. Sometimes the reason was legitimate, sometimes not. It didn’t really matter, because we were junkies and no one would give a shit about us anyway. The idea of having legal rights was a far-away thought.

We would arrive at our destination and whichever one of us knew the connect would go in and cop. They would be in there for what seemed like forever, because we were all dope-sick and we couldn’t stand it, that feeling of being the opposite of right, our brains screeching for heroin. After the gargantuan struggle of coming up with the money, we wanted it NOW!! Finally, after what seemed like years, they would emerge with their precious cargo and come back to the car. Usually we would have to ride back to someone’s place so it could be apportioned, but sometimes we could just divvy it up in the car by sight and we would all fix right then, because to wait one second longer than necessary seemed intolerable. We would either shoot up in the car while it was parked or while we were driving to the house. The thought of someone calling the police on us or a cop seeing us didn’t seem to matter. All that mattered was getting fixed one more time as soon as possible. If I could just be OK right then, I didn’t care if I died, or went to jail or anything else. There were times when I’d caught a case and I would go to the court house and bring my works, my outfit (hypodermic syringe), my spoon, my tie-off, and my drugs and I would shoot up right in the bathroom of the Hall of Justice in Oakland, because it would take so long for my case to be called and I had become so terrified of getting dope-sick that I just didn’t care about anything else.

I just didn’t care about anything else

There was one time when I had scrabbled together enough money to go cop enough dope to get well and when I left that house I walked a few blocks to a pizza parlor, got the key to their bathroom and went in to shoot up. As the bathroom door started to close a beat cop put his foot in the door and stepped into the bathroom. He searched me and found my rig and the dope. It turns out he was trying to get evidence to bust the house I had copped from. This was my last bust. When it came to trial I could only get a public defender to take my case and I got sentenced to probation. When the cop testified, he lied and said the reason he searched me was that my hypodermic needle was sticking out of my shirt pocket.

I got assigned to a really nice guy in the probation department and I managed to be honest with him about my life and set about seeing him on a regular basis. I had to provide a urine test to him once a month and never once managed to give him a clean sample. I would buy urine from the children of my friends (they were the only people in my life at this point who I could get urine from which did not have drugs in it) and I would hook up colostomy bags under my clothing and run the tube down under my penis so that when he and I went into the bathroom together it would look like I was just peeing normally. One time the old bag broke so I went and bought a new one but when I went in for my test I had failed to disable the flap valve which was there to keep everything from leaking. We got into the bathroom and I undid the tube and nothing came out. I had the bag under my armpit and so I started squeezing with my arm in the hope I could release the urine but when I did this the bag broke. I had a coat on but I’m sure some of the wetness showed. I turned around and I could see he was suppressing a laugh. I told him I couldn’t go and he said that was okay and I could come back later. Thomas, my P.O.  really struck by me during this whole period and I managed to stay out of prison thanks only to his caring and the fact that I was white. I could not have skated through all of these arrests without prison time if I hadn’t been white. There is no way this is acceptable, but there is no way I am not glad that I avoided prison. Thomas, by the way, was black. He went on to a high level job in the Alameda County Probation Department.

I went to court one more time and the D.A. was outraged that I was still walking around and requested I be put in prison. The Public Defender said my probation officer had requested I remain free and the judge asked me what was up. I told him what I was doing was hard, the hardest thing I have ever done and he said he would give me one more chance, and it was right after this that I got into Newbridge and managed to turn things around.


Happiness is long gone
And it has been so long
Since I’ve loved anything
But you but you but you

You provide me no joy
I’ve become just a toy
Just a useless plaything
For you for you for you

And my head understands
But my needing demands
The only song I sing’s
About you about you

A gerbil on a wheel
Running fast, toe to heel
Same view as yesterday
Past time to get away
I can’t believe I’m still here
I’m so stuck, oh my dear
Please save me from myself
If you are able

It’s really so simple
Like squeezing a pimple
Making a small portal
For you

And the skin of my arm
Just gives way to your charm
It is an old ritual
Nothing’s new nothing’s new

The needle brings the same
Great relief from the pain
But there’s no pleasure here
From you

A gerbil on a wheel
Running fast, toe to heel
Same view as yesterday
Past time to get away
I can’t believe I’m still here
I’m so stuck, oh my dear
Please save me from myself
If you are able

Happiness is long gone
It is an old, old song
And it’s so hard to stop
Loving you loving you

But it’s time to let go
You and I both know
No love’s coming back
From you

A gerbil on a wheel
Running fast, toe to heel
Same view as yesterday
Past time to get away
I can’t believe I’m still here
I’m so stuck, oh my dear
Please save me from myself
If you are able

This is not possible
Yet not impossible
Letting go letting go
Of you of you of you

Down this road’s not so bad
I might even be glad
That I let go of you
Of you of you of you

©     Jim Dickey


Here’s Billie Holiday singing of her heroin addiction:                      

Curious (and not so curious) facts about me:

  1. Everyone on my father’s side of the family had problems with alcohol and several died from its affects.
  2. I always had a very negative self-image.
  3. I took a mathematics/algebra test in 7th grade and scored at the level of a college sophomore.
  4. I was always very empathetic.
  5. I suffered from dyslexia (I didn’t know this until about ten years ago) and was a very slow reader, although I was well-read. This would turn out to be a giant disadvantage when I attended UC Berkeley in 1965, which is when my drinking and using began.

On my birthday in 1989, I went into a long term residential rehab called New Bridge Foundation in Berkeley, CA.  I am grateful to them for helping me to reclaim my life. They walked me from the wreck I was to the person I could still become.  When I entered the facility I was 42 years old, economically naked, with few connections in the world although I still had relationships with my parents, my brother , and one friend (thanks for hanging in there Betsy), all of whom had stuck by me. Aside from those four people I was orphaned.  The job skill I had was drug dealing, a skill for which there was little need in the straight world I had reentered. The people I had surrounded myself with during my years of use were underground chemists, other drug dealers, mom and pop independent drug smugglers, and other drug users:  people who supported their habits through prostitution, theft, scamming, and some were even able to make enough money in straight jobs.

When I left New Bridge I was reborn: I had a job as a construction laborer which I had gotten through New Bridge connections; I was involved in an ongoing relationship with a young woman who was willing to take a chance on me and who later became my second wife and would give birth to our two sons; I was involved in the 12-step programs of AA and NA and although I never worked the steps or got a sponsor, I got a lot out of the social aspects of the programs. As I said above, I had tried for five years to quit my addiction before I went into New Bridge to no avail. I had tried quitting cold turkey, attempted moderation, attended twelve step groups, signed up for methadone replacement therapy, and attended a 30 day residential program. During that five years, I contacted all the people I sold to and connected them to all the people I bought from (which is kind of the reverse of what a dealer does when he’s building his business) just so I would not have enough money to buy heroin. None of it stuck until New Bridge. To be honest, when I went through their doors, I felt I was fully cooked, that I had put those days behind me, but I stuck out that very difficult Synanon-based program just to make sure. While I was there I witnessed people choosing to serve twelve year prison terms rather than stay at New Bridge for two or three years. Such stories are common in New Bridge lore.

During the first five years of my recovery, as I mentioned earlier, I attended Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous 12-step meetings on a regular basis and enjoyed the sense of community which came along with that attendance, and was involved in service work and performed administrative duties for the governing body of Northern California’s Narcotics Anonymous. At the end of 5 years my new wife and I were expecting the first of two children and, feeling I was secure in my commitment to an abstinent lifestyle, I stopped attending 12-step meetings and devoted my time to job and family.

I worked at AT&T, first as a 411 operator, then as a DSL inter-company tech support person and then as a Connectivity Specialists, which was a type of tech support for business internet connectivity and application support. I currently am the owner/sole proprietor of Connectivity Specialists, a computer network installation and maintenance company and provide internet connection troubleshooting services.  I find, however, that at this stage of my life, being involved in helping others recover from the ravages of addiction is where my heart is.  In 2010 I became aware of SMART Recovery and I found that, in my opinion, it made more sense as a recovery process and I decided to become involved in it.  I was trained as a facilitator and started a meeting in Alameda, California at 1300 Grand St. which takes place at 7 PM on Thursday evenings.  About 3 year ago I started a second meeting at Kaiser Permanente’s Addiction Medicine and Recovery Services, AMRS, (formerly their Chemical Dependency Recovery Program or CDRP) at 380 West MacArthur Blvd. in Oakland, California.  That meeting is open to the public and takes place each Thursday at 12:30 PM.  Last year four of the attendees from the Thursday night meeting took the Host training provided by SMART Recovery and one of them took the Facilitator training offered by SMART and they started a second Alameda meeting which takes place at the Central Baptist Church located at 2133 Central Ave. That meeting takes place at 7:00 PM on Tuesday nights in room 5 adjacent to the parking lot.  Should you wish to contact me, you can call my SMART Recovery phone at 510-355-8210, or email me directly at I designed and currently administer this website which is devoted to helping the public (and the loved ones of those who are addicted) understand addiction and aiding those who suffer from it to overcome its bonds and enter recovery and to lead happy, satisfying, productive lives.

Speaking before the SF Board of Supervisors in the early ’90s:

SMART Recovery Phone:  510-355-8210


What I believe:

  • We are all doing the best we can.
  • Being open and honest with the world, while not always expedient, is better for the world and better for us.
  • If a person does what he/she considers to be the right thing, it will work out well in the end.
  • The best goal is the fulfillment of your values.
  • Life is confusing, but if we just continue doing our best, we will muddle through.
  • Love is the one commodity which is potentially unlimited;      there can never be too much love; we all have the potential  to love and be loved; there is never a good reason to fear love.

Neil DE Grasse Tyson/Judy Collins mashup

Stars act as a kind of gravitational lens. Light comes and passes by them and is bent. Every star does this and when you are at the right focal point you can see what is on the other side of that star. The more gravity the star has, the greater is its affect upon the light. Astronomers call this phenomenon gravitational microlensing and use it as a way of measuring the mass of the objects which are causing the bending of the light. You are, in effect, the star’s retina.

People all have their own gravity. Their past, their thoughts, their feelings shine through them. If you are at the right focal point you will see what is on the other side of them. Every person has gravity.

And the people, they go round and round                                                            And the thoughts they have they can all be found                                                 If you’re lucky you’ll get close enough                                                                       To taste their tears and feel their soft hearts beat                                               To hear their stories and smell their smells                                                             To taste their tastes and feel their heat

We are each a lens and each a seer                                                                           We are each a teacher and can all be taught

5 thoughts on “Site Administrator”

  1. Hi Jim,
    I’ve just registered and I’m cruising around your awesome website. Thanks for the link!
    I’m learning already, just getting my feet wet! Thanks again, Sina

  2. Hi, Sina. It was so great to see you at the SMART meeting and get to know you a little. I’m glad you’re staying in touch. I look forward to seeing you again when you are in the area.

  3. Hey thanks babajimbobreptile! Is this you, the creator of this site? If so thanks for admitting me to the royal halls ! Let’s party . Let the Sober Celebration begin!

  4. 🙂 It’s me indeed. I’m the only one involved with the site. It was a labor of love. Here’s to all Sober Celebrations! Wherever you go you bring light with you and I appreciate your shining a little bit my way.

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