Convicts like drugs. A lot. These are their stories… the stories of the most popular drugs in prison.

Between 80-90% have some form of substance-abuse in relation to whatever put them in prison. Drugs are everywhere and come in via officers, hidden in body cavities, thrown over fences, and occasionally in the mail. But to those incarcerated, it’s not where they come from, but where they take you.



Jerome X had just gotten out of the Hole for throwing a chair in the direction of an officer while on K2. Then he smoked a bunch more, ran out of the cellblock (the doors aren’t usually locked unless there’s a reason for them to be), ran to the yard, and started to climb one of the inside fences. The C/Os were in disbelief, at first just yelling for him to stop because the fence didn’t lead to the outside. Then they felt they had to do something, because fence-climbing in prison of any kind is just viewed as bad. So they pulled out their tasers and pepper-spray, and one of the officers tased him. He fell, and they tackled him. He started banging his own head on the concrete, screaming, “I’m a lion! I’M A LION!!!” at the top of his lungs as they wrestled with him.

I did K2 once. It was being sold for about $10 for a piece the size of your thumbnail. I was told to make sure I did no more than half of this piece, preferably only a quarter. I smoked it, a few tiny puffs of smoke total, and went outside. I felt a lightness as I walked around the yard, until my eyes felt a tension like they were being rolled to the back of my head. Then I saw the ground rippling, like something was trying to get out. The yard is mostly dirt-covered, and I saw mounds of it rise and fall. I KNEW these were the skeletons of dead Native Americans who had died on this land, trying to rise up. I ran to the pavement, where I figured I’d be safe because they couldn’t reach through the concrete and grab me. I knew this was the K2, and I decided this is a terrible thing and I would never do it again (and I haven’t). But I also knew at that moment I wasn’t going to step back on the ground itself and let the hallucinated undead get me.



“Boss” was a former Golden Gloves boxer with nearly crippled hands today. He spent all of his money, hundreds of dollars a month, on heroin. Always dancing when he was high, he was happy and a nice guy. He got caught when he passed out from the heroin while in the shower, and fell while naked, taking the shower-curtain down with him right as a C.O. was making a round.

J had been the president of a notorious local biker gang, in prison for murdering someone in a rival gang. He’d get high on heroin and tell me stories of his glory days. We became friends, though I stayed away when, while on heroin, he’d strip down to his underwear at night and walk around. As far as I know, it wasn’t anything homosexual: the heroin made him feel overheated, and given his reputation, he just didn’t care.



Tim bought this prescription bladder-control medication, dentropan, for $0.20 a pill… because 10-20 of them will make you hallucinate. “It’s a dirty high, but you see some cool shit.”

“Dude! DUDE!” he exclaims as we’re walking around the yard. “I can’t talk to you anymore.”

“Why?” I ask. “You feeling okay?”

“I feel fine. But you’re not really here right now.”

I don’t know how to respond. “Uh, yes I am. I swear I am.”

“Ohmygod. OH. MY. GOD! That means that…I’m not really here right now!”

He then takes off running, holding the sides of his head. I chase after him and, catching up because he’s moving erratically and pretty slowly, convince him to sit down. He calms down, then starts waving across the yard. “Ace! ACE! Hey bro!”

[Ace was someone we both knew…and who had been transferred to another prison a few months earlier and had NOT returned.]



The guys in the cell next to me, RJ and Mo, were up loudly laughing all night for three nights in a row. Then they started wrestling (just goofing around) and, in the friendly tussle, RJ’s knee got dislocated and he started screaming.  He was taken to the hospital where he was drug tested, and then charged restitution for the knee operation, the x-rays, and transport because it was deemed that he was responsible for the dislocation because of the meth.

Blur was visibly jittery from snorting some meth earlier while sitting on the main area of the cell block. Officer N walked over and asked for a couple random pat downs (they’re required to do a certain number each day). Blue didn’t like this, so he sucker-punched Officer N and kicked him until some of his ribs broke. 


Sonic took over 40 of these green and white allergy pills. If I didn’t know he was high, he looked like someone in the movies who was acting hypnotized. Sitting at the card-table, he gets up and goes straight to the officer’s desk. The other three of us watch him and know this isn’t a good thing.

“Hey,” he says, looking right at the officer. “Has my Taco Bell application come back yet?”

“Haha, go on somewhere,” the officer says, waving him off.

“No, c’mon! I need to know if my Taco Bell application came back yet.”

“Alright, push on, man.”


Now the officer actually looks at him, sees his pupils dilated. “Stand right there,” he tells Sonic before calling the nurse. The nurse asks Sonic what he took, and he’s so high that, instead of denying it, he merely says “I’m not sure what it was.” He’s taken to the hospital, and his stomach is pumped…and he’s charged over a thousand dollars for the transport and “treatment.” 

Off about 50 pills, Dirty is in the dayroom with us. There’s windows all around the dayroom, panes with the vertical and horizontal frames holding them in place. None of the frames is more than two inches wide. Dirty is jabbering about something, slurring his words as he talks about nothing. We hear a CO’s keys clunking from outside the dayroom. Dirty stands up, starts saying “Oh fuck!” over and over, and looks right at the officer. We don’t want him to get in trouble (or attract attention in general), so we tell him to just calm down and that the only way the CO is going to know something’s up is if he keeps acting jittery. In his mind, he believes that he is blocked from view standing behind them. The CO looks right at him, then just keeps walking. “Pheww…that was a close one,” he says, completely serious.



Tobacco products were once allowed in prison, but not anymore. Since they’ve removed them, there’s still a lot coming in. COs can be fired for bringing in tobacco, but they can get paid hundreds of dollars each time and they’re not at risk of a felony like they’d be for bringing in other drugs. So a lot of COs turn a blind-eye to the smell too, because it’s not that big of a deal. Some guys smoke like they’re in the free-world, but the cost adds up.

Mike was someone I worked out with regularly and was somewhat friends with until he started smoking so much that it cut into his free time. He also started smoking so much that he racked up a large debt with some serious gangbangers. He came up to me and offered to suck my dick if I’d help him pay down his debt. I am not gay and don’t think I give off that vibe. I told him not to ever say anything like that again, gave him a bag of coffee worth about $4, and told him he was on his own. 


-ARTANTE (a Parkinson’s medication)-

Old man Crow was in a wheelchair and had Parkinson’s. He often sold his medication. According to G, it was powerful… only one pill was needed, though it wasn’t always that enjoyable of a high. “Within minutes of taking it, the first thing I felt was that my arm didn’t feel like my own arm. My hand seemed to have a delayed reaction when I moved it. Then everything turned a greenish hue. I wanted to move my head around a lot. I never did it again.” 

A guy named Gordo took twelve of Crow’s Artanes. “Bro, I don’t think this was a good idea. I think this was very bad.” Twenty minutes later, he asked me to slap him because he didn’t know where his body ended and where the rest of the world began. He looked at me with horror in his eyes at one point. “Bro…bro…broshhh. I thinkssshhh I brok’d my brain.” I told him I thought I should go get him some help. He refused. I let him know if he lost consciousness that I was going to get him some help, and he said that might be a good idea.



Commissary sells mostly snack foods. The amount you go through while on weed often costs more than the weed. Last time I smoked with my celly, we both felt sick afterwards from all the food we ate, and because of my ADHD, I added together all the calories I ate and it was over 6,000 calories. We also watched Star Wars, and he said I spent over ten minutes with my arm outstretched trying to use the Force to get my coffee cup.



Sold on commissary, vaguely comparable to Claritin. According to B, “If you take at least two bottles [50 pills], you feel like you’re on meth…only different.”

B started taking four-to-eight bottles… often daily. He liked to put them all in one bottle, then add water and “drink” them all at once. It was obvious when he was high, because he would twitch and move his head as though he were seeing things out of the corner of his eye. I started hearing him talk to himself when no one else was around. Then he became abnormally aggressive and started accusing all kinds of people of snitching on him. He also became convinced that one of the female officers was in love with him, telling everyone that he was going to move in with her. She was a nice enough lady that she would visibly attempt to get away from him when he’d try talking to her, but she said something about moving in with her TO her, and she made sure after that that he was transferred to another prison.

Smoke wasn’t shy about his love of these allergy tabs. He’d boldly walk around the yard, yelling, “Hey! HEY! ANYONE! I gots two bags of coffee for some tabs. Ya hear me?! TWO BAGS OF COFFEE FOR SOME ALLERGY TABS!” You could tell when he was on them , because he’d sit at one of the tables with his knees tucked up to his chest, rocking back and forth, smiling a big grin (and occasionally looking quickly to the side as though he saw something).



Suboxone became popular because it comes in these little gel-strips that could easily be smuggled in bulk or melted into paper and mailed. Leave it to prisoners to discover that you can dissolve tiny pieces of these water-soluble strips into chapstick caps of water, snort that liquid, and get as high as if you orally took ten times as much. It sounds like someone blowing their nose, and you can walk by cells and hear the sound of noses blowing with a 50-50 chance they’re actually snorting suboxone.

Your first time snorting suboxone, you only need about 1/20th of the full size of the strip it comes as. Because everyone knew this, there was a rash of prisoners turning themselves into medical treatment because they thought they were overdosing after having snorted a ¼ strip. They puked for hours and felt terrible, though it’s basically impossible to actually OD on it. 

For obvious reasons, I’ve chosen to remain Anonymous.