What follows is accounts from dealers interviewed by VICE explaining how dealing complicates their lives, and how they handle the side effects of hustling. Because they are discussing illegal activity, all are anonymous.
Dealer 1I grew up really poor but ended up going to a very wealthy high school because I was smart—Beverly Hills High School (a.k.a. 90210). Affording a $5 [€4,5] lunch was a big deal for me, while all the other kids at school were driving luxury cars and living in mansions. I wanted a piece of that, and didn't have the best home life. My childhood was pretty rough—my mom had me when she was 19, my parents were divorced, neither of them finished high school, and my dad had mental illness. Dealing was very much about survival. For me, it was a way out of my then-reality, and into coolness and money.I started selling when I was in tenth grade by buying one gram [of weed] for $10 [€9] (I didn't eat lunch for two days so I could afford it). Then I sold it for $20 [€18]. Then I had $20 [€18] and I bought two more grams, and it went from there. Flash-forward several years, and I was selling ten to 20 pounds [9 kg] of weed—plus various quantities of every other drug you can imagine—every week and was making thousands and thousands of dollars.At first, I didn't have to hide anything from my family. My best friend lived three blocks away from our high school in a really nice house. We kept our stash, money, and whatever else we needed to hide in his basement because his dad was cool and didn't care that we were dealing. I'd get dropped off at his house in the morning, get high, go to school, then go back and get higher before we started selling drugs out of the mansion. It was like a rich-kid trap house.
Sold "Everything Imaginable"
Dealer 2In high school, I used my parent's health insurance to see a psychiatrist so I could be prescribed pills like Adderall and sell those to my classmates. I totally abused the opportunity to see a shrink, and ended up with a substance abuse problem myself. My dad ended up finding out about the dealing and my addiction, and I was sent to rehab.When I got out, I tried to see the psychiatrist again to get back to selling. By then, my dad had caught on to my lies about why I was seeing a psychiatrist and knew I wasn't using it for therapeutic reasons or self-improvement. Every time I called my doctor, he would immediately hang up the phone the moment he heard my voice. I tried calling a million times, but no reply.I later found out my psychiatrist was avoiding me because my dad had called him and told him to hang up immediately if I ever tried to book an appointment, or else there'd be consequences. I'm pretty sure he threatened the guy. I ruined the opportunity to see an expensive therapist, which could have been good for me. But that's how it goes when you're doing everything on the low, hiding your life from the people around you.
Sold Prescription Pills
It's easy to convince someone when they don't want to believe the worst of you. But it was right in front of her face. A lot of parents are in denial.
Dealer 3I come from a middle-class family and grew up in the suburbs. I got into doing drugs around age 13 and quickly progressed to dealing. I saw it as a way to get high for free and later as a way to make a lot of money. I sold LSD and marijuana for three years as a full-time gig. At the peak of my career, I was making upwards of $20,000 [€18,000] a month.I have a good relationship with my parents today, but it was rocky during my teenage years because I was high all the time and lying to them all the time. They had their suspicions, but they didn't want to believe that their baby boy was selling drugs. It's a tough pill to swallow for parents. They always want to believe the best of their kids.
Sold LSD and Weed
I am pretty open with everything now. It was just a chapter in my life that I have moved on from—just like prison. I have no problem being honest today, but there are still certain things that aren't appropriate to discuss with mom about my past.
My dad is an entrepreneur himself, so it was pretty amusing to see how he acted once it was all in the open. We would have long talks about how I should launder my money…
Dealer 4I sold weed for about three years. I was doing food delivery and messenger work, and selling drugs was a natural progression—especially once I saw I could live comfortably doing it three days a week. I won't go into specifics, but I was making considerably more at the time than any of my peers who were working five days a week and paying taxes.My relationship with my dad is good. He is an understanding parent and doesn't abide by society's norms for the most part and can get behind less-than-conventional ways of doing things. When he was suspicious at first, though, he gave me this doomsday talk about how I was putting myself in a world of trouble: one of those speeches like, You're gonna live in a van down by the river!Once he saw how self-sufficient I was and that I was able to fund my own personal projects, he seemed to look the other way. By the time I got around to telling him, it wasn't a surprise. He respected me enough to trust that I could weigh the risks smartly. My dad is an entrepreneur himself, so it was pretty amusing to see how he acted once it was all in the open. We would have long talks about how I should launder my money, and he would take on that commanding tone when you're getting dad advice, making it clear he had forgotten the nature of the topic. I have always had a hard time lying to people, so I had a better relationship with him—and less anxiety or guilt about dealing myself—when I knew he was in the loop.Follow Zach on Twitter.