Bobby Johnson began smoking marijuana when he was 16, became an alcoholic in his 20s, and then moved on to heroin when he had conquered alcoholism. He had been off heroin for two days recently and was hoping that the daily methadone dose he was taking would help him kick heroin.
"I always thought I needed alcohol or drugs, so I started snorting heroin after getting out of the alcoholism program," the 32-year-old Johnson said. "It was for enjoyment. I didn't know it could control you and make you steal from your own momma."
A Washington native, Johnson said he was not interested in sports or any other activities in high school. After graduating, he worked as a laborer on house restoration projects. "There are very few things I've done besides working and getting high," he said. ". . . I knew nothing else to do."
For the past two years, Johnson said, he was the manager of a parking lot in Virginia. He injected heroin into his veins once a day. "For me, it would last all day. It's a mental thing."
Even some of his closest friend don't know he is a heroin addict. "You can put on a good front," he said.
Since his salary from the parking lot was not enough to finance his habit, Johnson sold marijuana on the side. "I did hustling, but no robbing or snatching pocketbooks. I felt I was doing legitimate things."
Yet, with his debts growing, Johnson walked off his job in March.
"Dope makes you do some stupid things," he said of that decision. "I was depressed. I looked at my check and saw all I have is enough to get five quarters bags or shots this week . . . I thought I wasn't getting enough money."
Johnson's brother is a marketing manager for a large company and his sister works for the federal government. "I don't understand it," he said. "My sister and brother turned out well. I think it was the crowd. I've always hung with the wrong crowd . . . I never looked at myself as being anybody."
Today, Johnson's parents are helping support him and he has taken an interest in religion.
"I always had it in my mind that I needed something. I never knew how to deal with life without doing something. I felt you had to do it take drugs to enjoy life. It just makes you mellow, you be nice. I always wanted to feel nice."