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living in the hood

9 lessons from living by crackheads & crack dealers

I grew up in the projects and learned a lot about crackheads and crack dealers. Here are some little-known facts about them.

Ed Latimore
Ed Latimore
Writer, retired boxer, self-improvement enthusiast

In the ghetto, there are crackheads. In case you didn’t know, crackheads are people addicted to crack-cocaine. Crackheads and the ghetto go together like Kool-Aid and fried chicken.

Crackheads get their crack from somewhere. That’s where crack dealers come in. I grew up in the projects. This means I spent a lot of time around crack dealers and crack addicts. However, my experience had a unique feature.

I spent about 5 years living next to a certified crackhead. When I moved to another housing project, I lived next to a crack dealer for 4 years.

The hood is a terrible place to begin with. I can assure you that living next to hard drug users and dealers is a unique level of hell.

These are my observations, lessons learned, and experiences from living next to crack dealers and crackheads.

1. A crackhead is surprisingly functional

A lot of crackheads rob and steal to get drug money. There are also quite a bit who have jobs.

They use that money to fund their crack habit and to also keep a roof over their head. Not all crackheads want to get high in a crack house.

Crackheads live in a crackhouse like this
A typical crackhouse. Yes, they actually 'live' here.

My mom even occasionally let a crackhead babysit us. She lived next door to me as a kid. This brings me to my next experience.

2. Crackheads value drugs over money

The crackhead next door babysat me.

When I was 4 years old, I picked up a syringe full of heroin and squirted it. I thought it was a water gun. The crackhead was super angry. I remember my mom offering to pay for the lost drugs, but the junkie didn’t calm down.

I actually don’t remember the eventual resolution.

In the world of a crackhead, crack is God.

Crackheads sell their children to get crack money. Male and female crackheads will suck dick so they can get crack when low on funds.

No crime is too great or too low once a person has sold their soul to the crack devil.

(Read: “How To Hustle Like A Crackhead”)

3. The crackhead economy is legendary

It’s common to hear someone in the hood talk about “crack prices” when referring to something inappropriately priced.

An object is in the “crack price” range when it’s priced low to expedite the sale.

My introduction to the concept of crack prices came at age 5.

One day my dad parked his car outside and went through the extra effort of putting his Club anti-theft device on. I asked him why he put The Club on. His response was, “So some crackhead doesn’t steal my car and sell it for 5 dollars.”

That confused me.

While 5-year-old me didn’t know how much cars cost, I knew they were a lot more than 5 dollars. Once I learned that the rock is the most important thing to a crackhead, it all made sense.

Since then, I’ve watched or been victim to this type of crackhead behavior on a few occasions.

I’ve known crackheads to break out car windows for loose change in the seats, ignoring anything else of value.

Once a crackhead broke into my apartment and only stole a jar of change and a cable box. The crackhead is extremely short-sighted.

It’s only thinking about the fastest way to get just enough money to get high again.

4. Superhuman feats ascribed to crackheads are inspired by true events

Crack doesn’t ACTUALLY give a person superpowers.

I joke about the crackhead superpowers, but all good jokes contain truth. What probably happens is crack changes their brain, allowing them to endure high amounts of pain.

I’ve seen crackheads get hit by cars and keep moving. I once watched a crackhead fall a few stories and shake it off like nothing happened. I’ve personally witnessed crackheads jump out of burning buildings and land in stride.

Crackhead strength is legendary
Crackhead strength is legendary

You also don’t really meet any fat crackheads. Maybe crack raises your metabolism, but it is likely just a symptom of the previous observation. Crack is more important to crackheads than food.

Crack comes before food if you only have 5 dollars from the car you stole and sold. Even if you haven’t eaten in days.

I’ve got a collection of quotes, many of which highlight this incredible power of crackheads. Check out this collection of crackhead quotes here.

5. The biggest problem with illegal drugs is the violence between suppliers, not between buyers

They make a big deal about drug violence and why we need all these laws against drugs. My perspective is unique.

I have no skin in the game either way but grew up at ground zero of the war on drugs. Here’s what I’ve observed.

I’ve never actually seen two crackheads fighting one another.

I’ve seen them fighting other non-crackheads, but they don’t really go to war with one another. However, the crack dealer next door is one of the reasons there were bullet holes in my door.

Biggie warned about this in his song The Ten Crack Commandmenets. Check out my breakdown of this rule and others here in this post.

On a more general note, most hood violence is drug-related. The rest of the violence is because of people taking advantage of someone who comes off as a weak, easy target.

It’s about controlling who sells what, where, and for how much. Random muggings aren’t as common as shooting disputes over street corners.

[Read: “How to avoid a street fight, and what do if you can’t”]

6. Bad traits come in clusters. Especially with crack dealers

I’ve met a few dealers of all different substances. My general experience has been that the harder the drug, the worse the human being is that deals it.

I’m sure this is a result of the level of ruthlessness you need to get into and survive the game. Harder drugs are worth more money so the competition is tougher.

This is merely speculation, but it makes sense.

The crack dealer who lived next door to me regularly beat his girlfriend. Once, he tried to push his way into my house to go after my then 10-year-old sister to beat her.

She played a harmless prank, but he didn’t care. I pushed him out of my house, but for weeks I worried that he’d shoot my 13-year-old ass.

7. Don’t start no shit there won’t be no shit with crack dealers

Drug dealing is a thing a person gets into to make money.

The ROI is shitty, but most guys sell drugs as a way to make ends meet. They aren’t in it to fuck the world up or hurt others (despite what drugs do to people).

They just want to put food on the table.

You generally don’t have to worry about drug dealers trying to hurt or you rob you for no good reason.

Unless you’re a player in the game, you’re safe. These guys have other issues but if you keep to yourself, you don’t have to worry about crack dealers.

Omar Little from The Wire robbing drug dealers
Omar Little from “The Wire” robbing drug dealers

8. Crackhead misery loves crackhead company

You’ll never meet someone more generous than a hard drug user offering a hit of his drugs.

I never used any hard drugs. I was offered heroin, crack, and coke on a few occasions. The dealers weren’t the ones making the offer. It was always a user while they were getting high.

I don’t think something about being a smack or crackhead makes you more altruistic than the general population. I think this is an attempt to normalize their behavior.

If you accept their invitation, it makes them feel a lot better about feeding their addiction in your company.

9. More people are on hard drugs than you think

I didn’t learn this directly from living in the projects.

I knew a guy who made home deliveries. One day (in the rash stupidity of youth), I did a ride along with him. Although we were in some pretty nice areas, I couldn’t come into the house and meet the clients.

Most clients bought “soft” (cocaine). A few wanted “hard” (crack). He told me that most of these people were doctors and lawyers.

This reiterates what I’ve stated earlier about drug dealers being functional individuals. These people can hold down a job (even a damn good one) but they just like to party.

Living next to crackheads and crack dealers is something I will never do again. However, I can’t deny that I’ve learned some things about life that you can’t pay to learn.

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I’m a former heavyweight pro-boxer (13-1-1) and alcoholic (Sobriety date 12/23/13), current writer, and aspiring chess master. I was raised in the projects by a single mom and failed high school, but I eventually earned a bachelor’s degree in Physics.

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Ed Latimore
About the author

Ed Latimore

I’m a writer, competitive chess player, Army veteran, physicist, and former professional heavyweight boxer. My work focuses on self-development, realizing your potential, and sobriety—speaking from personal experience, having overcome both poverty and addiction.

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