Site Administrator

My name is Jim Dickey and I have been in recovery for 28 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.

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 There were periods in my Freshman year when I had been taking out-of-date sandwiches from a garbage can used by a store located right in front of the entrance to the University at the intersection of Bancroft and Telegraph.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.

My next arrest was in Oakland (in the flat lands sadly) where I had been sharing an apartment with my girlfriend and we had been selling out of the apartment. I had met two heroin smugglers and was getting heroin cheep enough that I could sell it in quantity for twice the price I was paying for it. It was getting fronted to me at $200/gram and I was selling it for $400/gram. It was what was known as Persian heroin (diamorphine baseand was the type of heroin I preferred to use at that time because you could smoke it. It was white boy heroin and did not require injecting. I could afford to front large quantities to people and would not worry if they could pay me back or not. I just wouldn’t sell to them any more if they owed me. It was worth it to people to pay me so they could keep on copping from me. Everybody was making money. Unfortunately, the downstairs neighbor got irritated with all the traffic coming up and down the stairs and notified the landlord who notified the police and they raided the apartment. All my money and drugs were confiscated my girlfriend and I spent the traditional uncomfortable weekend in jail going through withdrawal. My lawyer this time was the past president of the Alameda County Bar Association and he got me another diversion deal. You are not supposed to be able to get a second diversion. It’s a one time only deal, but I guess he had pull. My case got separated from that of my girlfriend and they cut her loose. During my next court appearance, one of the cops who had been involved in the bust asked me if I knew how they had gotten on to me and I told him no. That’s when he told me it had been the downstairs neighbor. I told him I had decided a long time ago that if I had to hurt people to do what I did, then it wasn’t worth doing. I have always believed that he gave me that information to see what I would do with it so that his people could decide if I was worth doing business with. Those who would not kill in order to run their business were doomed to middle management. That was me: doomed to middle management.

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. 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


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 Chemical Dependency Recovery Program (CDRP) at 969 Broadway 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.

6 thoughts on “Site Administrator”

  1. Happy Birthdays Jim! This is my first time visiting the new website and I really like what I see…Hope you have a wonderful day of remembrance and celebration…well more celebration than anything else…and hopefully some ice cream too.


  2. 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

  3. 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.

  4. 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!

  5. 🙂 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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