DETROIT - Robert Bogues was one of those guys who supplies the people you love with the pills, pot and powder that destroys their lives.
He was a big-time drug dealer and now, he is sharing his story in hopes of helping families steer clear of addictive drugs. Bogues has seen a great deal in his life so far.
"I’ve seen more kids die from this," he said. "They end up buying on the street, somewhere, now they’re paying $500 a week for their Vicodin supply, OxyContin -- whatever it is. Then somebody says, 'Hey you could save that money if you just do this amount of heroin,’ and then lo and behold, they get ahold of some Carfentanil -- dead."
Bogues obliterated much of his life and the lives of so many others with drugs. He started first by using them and then he moved into selling them. He has learned many lessons along the way and is eager to share them with the parents he meets.
His first lesson: Pay attention to the early signs and put a stop to them.
"The kids are always gonna work -- start working with what is out of mom and dad’s medicine chest or what they can get online," Bogues said.
He has been sober for five years and he hopes to make up for past mistakes by trying to help save lives. This former dealer who faced addiction, prison, homelessness and almost daily danger on the streets selling drugs now is reduced to tears when he comes face to face with parents of drug-addicted children.
"Each parent (introduces) themselves, and you know how they lost their kids to drugs," Bogues recalled. "And it is the first I’ve ever sat in front of parents like that. They want to hear that I’m sorry because I represent the drug dealer that sold them the drugs at that point. But more than anything, I want (them) to understand the reality of drugs and addiction -- that their kids weren’t themselves.”
Bogues said he was not that different from other kids. He was looking to be popular in high school, and when academics and athletics didn’t deliver the prestige, he found that selling pot did.
"It was the power,” Bogues said. "Yeah, it was the popularity. I was the guy. I had the joints out in the parking lot. And it probably coincides with the actual paying for my own pot. It was more power.”
Many dealers start selling drugs in order to support their own addiction. It can spiral quickly into big-time dealing. Bogues advanced pretty quickly, selling cocaine, heroin and crystal meth. He witnessed it all, but he said he hasn’t seen anything like the grip prescription pills have on our communities.
"I don’t know how many people I know that are hooked on Adderall but they believe because it’s prescribed, that it’s OK," he said.
And, according to Bogues, it was always easy to convince a pill addict to switch to heroin by simply pointing out it is cheaper and stronger. And because of this epidemic, Bogues said, heroin is where serious drug dealers make their millions, day after day.
His overall message is pretty simple: If you are addicted, get into recovery today.
Police, prevention, education, treatment and recovery: Bogues said we are failing in every category when it comes to opioid addiction. He said that has to change if America is going to survive this opioid epidemic.
Stay informed on the latest updates on the epidemic. Subscribe to our Opioid Nation newsletter.
Copyright 2017 by WDIV ClickOnDetroit - All rights reserved.