Andre B.

AGE 34

ADDICTION:  Heroin.  Clean for now (21 days)

Andre Barker’s nickname is Dre, pronounced “Dray.”

Dre’s mother and step-father are both alcoholics. His step-father abused both him and his mother verbally and physically for years, kicking Dré and beating him bloody.

Dre’s problems with drugs began at 19, with crack cocaine. He got in trouble for joy-riding and was sentenced to two months in jail. There he learned about the joys of crack, “and like an idiot, when I got out I tried it and liked it and it was off to the races from there.”

He had been clean for three years, but his girlfriend and their son recently had to be sent back East to Massachusetts to avoid child custody complications.  “I was depressed, and the guys I hang out with led me right back into heroin,” he says.

This is his second round with Child Protective Services [CPS]; he has 7-year old twins in Montana whom he’ll never see again unless they look him up after they’re 18. His ex-wife was accused of murdering her own kid; she said it was SIDS but the X-rays showed a fractured skull and broken ribs. “So when she gave birth to my twins, CPS took them away from her right then and there.” Addiction has cost him relationships, jobs, and social connections.

Dre struggles with his addiction.  At one point after the Montana disaster, Dre started drinking and was downing a liter of rum daily – and holding a job. He ended up on the streets in Billings, MT.  He is clean now and has his job back at the Dollar store in Covington. It pays $7.00 an hour, and he is glad to have it.  He does smoke marijuana, which he feels helps him stay off of heroin and helps with his eating problems. He works out and goes to a mission-run gym and bible group to help him stay clean. It’s tougher, he says, because his room-mate is actively using heroin.

He has had to panhandle and has been cursed and yelled at, and he feels this treatment keenly.  “Sometimes,” he says, “a hello is worth more than a dollar.”


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