James: I’m from Atlanta. I’m forty-eight. I come from a good family. Five sisters and three brothers. All of them professional. 

I guess I got trapped in the streets in about 1986. I was an A student all through high school, ran track, scholarships…

I started partying. You start drinking, think that makes you happy. You start smoking weed, you think that makes you feel even better. And then someone introduce you to cocaine. It puts you in a world where nothing slows down, it only goes faster. 

See, the worst kind of high, that really gets you hooked, are the free ones. You go to a party and everything free so, you sample everything because it’s free. Then, once you have to pay for it, you realize hey, I might have a problem.  

With cocaine and crack, it’s about the euphoria. It’s the sensation that it gives you the first five minutes. 

BW: Then you spend all your time chasing it.

James: Right, then you lose your family, your job, your house. 

BW: Did you have all that?

James: Yeah, many times. I have two kids, twenty-eight and twenty-three, three granddaughters… a history.

BW: Are you close to your kids at all?

James: Nah, not like I should be. Not like my parents were with me. My parents were both there for me until they passed away. Yeah, great structure. My people are like supervisors, own companies, retired military, principals, teachers…

I’m just running. Running from reality. Cause I can call either one of them, because they’re there. But I don’t like to be around them knowing that I do what I do. And then they don’t understand, they judge. I don’t like to be judged, not by my sisters and brothers. Sometimes it’s about a hug and I love you. Just a hug, that’s it. Strange to say, but that’s what I be needing. 

When I wake up in the morning I just pray, “hey God, please, take this desire away”.  But it’s so hard cause I guess the neighborhood, when I get here, that’s all I know. It’s like being stuck on a train and can’t get off.