A longtime addict wants out

he needs helping hand

July 07, 2005|By DAN RODRICKS

HERE'S DARRYL Logan. Here's a 45-year-old lifelong Baltimorean, a graduate of one of its venerable independent schools - and a longtime drug addict. He seems like a bright guy. He's certainly a congenial conversationalist. And he's one of our estimated 40,000 heroin users.

For a couple of decades, while holding a variety of jobs (one for 12 years), Logan used heroin and sold heroin. He's been through a couple of treatment and recovery programs but relapsed both times. As of today, he's still in the life, using heroin and hustling the stuff when he needs money.

He says he'd rather be doing something else - and no longer contributing to one of Baltimore's pernicious problems.

Selling drugs has become too difficult, too risky, Logan says. In recent months, the Baltimore police have increased pressure on dealers and shut down some of the corners where users go on a regular basis to purchase heroin. More young guys than ever are hustling, he says, and the relative youth of the street sellers is one factor contributing to the insane violence that goes with the drug trade. (There were 278 homicides in Baltimore last year, the vast majority of them drug-related, according to police. The 2005 count, as of yesterday, was 143, just below the 2004 pace.)

Darryl Logan is typical of Baltimore's aging population of heroin users - men and women reaching midlife with a fear of violence and more jail time. Logan is one of about two dozen users and/or dealers who, since a column addressed to them June 9, contacted The Sun to say they've had enough of the life and want some help.

Logan says he wants a decent job that doesn't involve selling illegal narcotics at $10 a bag. (Considering the risks, netting $50 on every 25 bags sold isn't exactly lucrative.) Unlike most of the dealers or users interviewed recently, Logan says he doesn't have a felony conviction on his record, which should make his hunt for a job a little easier.

With the help of a friend of mine, he put together the first resume he's ever had, one that shows jobs as a warehouseman, an equipment operator and a laborer on a construction site. For 12 years, from 1984 until 1996, Logan had a good job making picture frames for Clark Molding in Timonium.

"I've demonstrated all my life a willingness and an ability to learn things quickly," the resume says. "I can do many things. I work hard and I am a great and loyal team player. I can be an asset to whoever employs me."

The resume shows a high school diploma from the Friends School of Baltimore.

Once upon a time, Logan says, he was a student there, recruited as an eighth-grader out of Lanvale Street in East Baltimore by his middle school principal, who happened to be a parent of a Friends student. Logan wanted to go to a public junior high, and not the Charles Street independent school, with a majority white and affluent student body.

"I wanted to go to school where my friends were going," he says. "My mother wanted me to go to Friends because she knew it was my best shot. See, when I was a kid, it wasn't cool to be smart. That was probably part of my problem. When I went to Friends, and came back to my neighborhood, there was a pressure to show that I didn't change, that I was still a neighborhood kid. I did OK at Friends, but just enough to get by. I could have done a lot better."

Later, Logan says, he learned that some of his friends from Lanvale Street - the same guys who, he thought, considered being smart to be uncool - were "secretly rooting" for him to succeed at Friends. "Those guys thought I was the one who was gonna get out," Logan says.

And he did - for a while. He lasted two years at the University of Maryland, College Park. His freshman roommate introduced Logan to the art of selling reefer. By his sophomore year, he had been so busy selling marijuana - and skipping classes - he was ready to drop out. "Life is about choices," he says. "And I made a lot of bad choices."

He left UM, moved back to Baltimore and celebrated his 21st birthday by shooting heroin.

He became hooked and maintained that habit all these years, even while working all the jobs listed on his resume.

Some guys are good at that - doing dope while holding a regular job. Logan is confident that, in the 12 years he worked for the framing company, no one suspected he was a user.

But he's 45 now, and, with this column, he's going public.

So there's no fooling anyone anymore. No more denial. Any prospective employer who gives Darryl Logan a chance is going to know his background.

"I will go into a treatment program tomorrow to get clean," Logan says. "But I need a job when I come out."

So here he is - willing to get off the street and get off the long list of Baltimore heroin users. He's willing to get treatment as the first step toward finding a job.

If you can help this man, give me a call.

People interested in providing treatment for, or hiring, any of the men and women profiled in recent columns can contact Dan Rodricks at 410-332-6166, or by e-mail at dan.rodricks@baltsun.com.

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