Pharmacy Hopping & Black Market Buying: What It Was Like for a Girl to Buy Pills in South Florida Circa 2012

Most of my friends had a dirty doctor in their pocket, but even with the blue prescription pad, it didn’t guarantee you a refill.

So if I couldn’t sponsor a friend’s script or find a pharmacy to fill it, I’d have to do what I normally did and buy my pills off the street the old fashion way.

I preferred to cover a friend’s doctor visit, which is what sponsoring someone means. In short, I’d subsidize the cost of someone else’s trip to the pain clinic, which included the cost of the visit, the prescription, transportation expenses, and if necessary an MRI (a one time cost of $100–$300 for an authentic or counterfeit document, if he or she wasn’t truly injured). These diagnostic imaging tests were required for administrative purposes only.

Since most of these “patients” weren’t actually hurt, it was worth $200 for a fake.

And so, as long as you had your documentation and cash in hand, you were seen no questions asked. In return for my sponsorship, I generally acquired 50–85 percent of the pills (roughly 120 per bottle) that were prescribed to the sponsored individual. For their role in the endeavor, the sponsored person was allowed to keep any remaining pills or I’d give them cash for the rest (if he or she didn’t want the leftovers).

Once we got the actual prescription though, we’d then try to find a pharmacy to fill it.

It sounds fairly simple, however, what you may not be aware of is that most of the local pharmacies (the mom and pop places as well as corporate spots like CVS and Walgreens) were purposely out of stock of opioids. At this point, the CDC just started looking into the South Florida pill mill craze and were in the beginning phases of cracking down.

As a result, each pharmacy was allotted a specific amount of pills to sell each month. Once they hit their limit, regardless if an incoming customer had an actual need and a legit script, they’d have to find another place to fill it. So it became a game of trial and error until we encountered one that carried the product we were looking for.

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I remember pharmacy hopping a lot. It got old after a while. I mean who wouldn’t be frustrated having to drive to what felt like every CVS and Walgreens along the east coast and still nothing.

I recall getting extremely anxious walking into each one, silently praying they had something —anything. When all hope was lost, Brian (one of my druggie buddies) would whip out his cane to accelerate the urgency of our situation —a.k.a., we wanted it to look like he couldn’t walk, so much so, that he needed his pills now.

I remember holding the door open for him, trying so hard not to laugh.

The thing was, CVS and Walgreens accepted insurance, which was a really good thing. So when buying a script, you’d only have to cover your insurance’s co-pay (roughly $20-40). Except, if the corporate places were out (and back then, they always were), we’d have no other choice but to check out the mom and pop shops that 99.9 percent of the time didn’t take insurance, which wasn’t too good for the one flipping the bill.

You basically had to pay full price for each pill, which added up to a couple hundred dollars per bottle. And sometimes, even they were out. So, if that didn’t work, sketchy parking lot it was. I had a few solid dealers who were straight lace guys as far as drug dealing goes. But there were times when even they were out. And on those occasions, I’d have to get pretty creative.

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Normally, I’d text my using friends to see if they had any to spare or if they knew someone who was good. So yeah, there were times when I met with shady AF people. Some I knew, some I never met before.

Each time I scored though, I was unquestionably petrified —even if I remembered them.

Even when I talked a big game, I was usually still scared. My main goal was to not get beat (or arrested). I mean, an 87.5-pound white female, picking up $400 worth of opiates, driving a C280 murdered out Mercedes Benz in the hood, pretty much screams easy target.

But I was Smarter Than They Thought.

When you’re doing as many pills as I was, you eventually learn some tricks of the trade. Along the way, I found a few techniques to check the authenticity of each pill I was trying to buy. A relatively fast and easy method was the taste test. Each pill had a distinctive taste that I knew like the back of my hand. You’d start by placing the pill on top of your tongue for a split second.

Sometimes dealers wouldn’t let you do this, but if the drugs were real, you’d most likely buy them anyway —so the good suppliers would let you. Pending it was authentic, you’d taste a distinctive flavor, which I honestly can’t even put into words. Imagine icy sugar in pill form? Well, if I tasted that distinctive flavor, I’d buy them. If I didn’t, I’d be pissed and have to say no, which was why I never gave them my money until after my examination. I was relatively bright for a junkie. I remember this one time, a freaking friend of mine tried to beat me for $200 worth of fake pills.

Luckily for me, I wasn’t about to make it easy for this asshole.

All of my peeps were out. My main supplier said he’d be good the day after tomorrow but if I was going to make it until then, I’d have to find a few to hold me over. I remember going down my list. I texted a bunch of kids when I found my answer. This guy said he was good and to meet him directly out front of the gym at FAU (Florida Atlantic University) in Boca Raton.

I drive the five minutes over there and tell him I’m here. He gets in the front seat of my car where he hands me 10 pills wrapped in foil. First, if the dealer doesn’t directly hand you the pills, normally, you’d want to be suspicious. The ones who had nothing to hide generally would give you your pills without encasing them in foil or toilet paper —the clear baggies could go either way.

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And so, I’m not about to hand this guy $200 ($20 per pill and I was getting 10) until I confirm they are, in fact, real.

Like anything in sales, you have to be prepared to walk away and I definitely was. Ironically, someone else just texted me —who I trusted a little more, saying he had a few personals he could spare. But I was still with kid number one, so I figured I’d give it my best shot. I had a weird feeling so I was cautious.

After I open the rolled up piece of foil, I put one on my tongue for a quick taste test like I referenced above. I was so pissed when I realize he was trying to sell me fake fucking pills. “I’m trying really hard to believe that you’re not trying to beat me, but these pills are fake as fuck.” Right after those words left my mouth, he said something like, “Well I just did one and I feel great so how could they be fake?”

That was pretty much standard when you’re trying to screw someone over.

I mean, I had said the exact same thing many times to those I was trying to beat —jokes on you, dude. Anyway, there’s actually another trick to see if a pill is legit or not. Besides the taste test, a true opioid smokes a specific way on foil. And so, I tell him to, “Let me test them one more time. If they are fake, I’m not buying anything. But if you want my money, you’ll let me do this.”

I don’t wait for a response. Instead, I fold another piece of foil that I had in the middle console of my car, grab a lighter, a hollowed out pen, and chase the dragon —that’s what people call smoking pills on foil. I’ve said this before, but back then, I was just as much addicted to the process as I was to the pills themselves.

Especially, when it came to smoking them.

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It actually made the process last longer —giving you a chiller high. People argue that it’s not as strong as mainlining (shooting) or snorting but if I had a few to spare, it was always an act I looked forward too.

My favorite days consisted of binging on some Denny’s takeout (which was right down the street) —pancakes, scrambled eggs, bacon and a toasted bagel with cream cheese, followed by gorging myself into a food coma (usually my only meal of the day) and then smoking one pill after another on my bed doing absolutely nothing. When I smoked them, I’d usually snort one for one. I remember this routine vividly.

I recall sitting in Denny’s parking lot because even as a drug addict, I was always early and then walking in to pay for my food.

I remember what it smelt like inside there. I remember rushing home to eat my order in bed while watching T.V. alone. I was pretty isolated besides my druggie friends. Then, once I needed a change of scenery (because I’d get stir crazy from time to time), I’d find a way to get some money, meet a dealer or a sponsee just to do it all over again the very next day.

Except, at this point, the pill I was testing didn’t budge from the piece of foil. It’s supposed to slide down a certain way, which if you couldn’t have guessed didn’t happen. Their scent should also resemble a fragrance similar to burnt cotton candy. And this pill had none of that. And so, he’s sitting right next to me when I say, “Dude, you really are trying to fuck me over. These pills are not real. Get the fuck out of my car.”

He actually listened since he knew I was right.

At Least I Had a Plan B.

I think he was even a little scared or maybe flat out pissed. “Whatever Macey. Your loss,” he replies as he jumps out of my car and I speed away. I end up taking my friend up on his offer to sell me a few of his personal pills that he was able to spare. Back then, I was living on my own, subletting a room from an old co-worker in east Boca.

I was pretty much the definition of a functioning addict until I was fired from yet another job (that made three in just a few short months), which was when things got interesting —not in a good way. I say that because I had my drug habit to support (I was spending roughly $620 a day), and now, I had to add $700 a month in rent to the list. And so, at the end of every month, I’d scramble to find the funds.

Somehow, by the skin of my teeth, I usually pulled it off, even if I was a few days late.

That day, a few hours before I met the kid who tried to sell me fake pills, I had pawned a bunch of stolen shit that was pretty much useless but because I had an in with one of the local pawn dealers (I wrote a separate post on my escapades with the south Florida pawn shops, which you can find right here), he normally gave me a few hundred bucks for just about anything.

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I was pretty sure he had a crush on me, which I didn’t fail to use to my advantage. Anyway, I head over to my friends where I cop seven pills and then travel back home. It was a long day. I was really tired when I finally made it into my bedroom where I begin my pill crushing routine. I needed instant relief, like now —so I decide not to smoke it. I take a pre-cut straw, place it to my nose and snort. My tolerance had grown pretty dramatically, and as a result, I wasn’t snorting just to get high anymore.

Yeah, that was my end goal.

But back then, I was using to simply feel normal with high hopes of getting a small buzz. I mean, I couldn’t even get out of bed without blowing 60 milligrams. So it took about 100 to get me where I wanted too (three to four pills). I start feeling it when I receive a phone call from my dealer. He re-upped earlier than he anticipated and said we could meet.

To Boynton Beach it was. I walk into the bathroom, splash some water on my emaciated face —trying to wake myself up for the impending 20-minute drive as another call comes in. It was Brian. He too was ready for another round of pharmacy hopping.

This Back & Forth Was Pretty Much My Life.

I tell Brain it’ll have to wait until tomorrow. I was way too exhausted to meet my guy and then drive all over to fill his script. Happily, I had already paid him for it so he owed me regardless. And since we were actual friends, I knew he was actually good for it. He tells me that I was lucky I caught him in a good mood.

He was going to do all the work for me and still give me the pills I paid for. Hallejiuah —sometimes, things did work out for life as a junkie. I will say though, when they didn’t, they really didn’t.

Fortunately, today wasn’t one of those days, just yet.

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So I put on an oversized tee with a pair of cutoff jean shorts and head north to my dealer’s house, which was basically the ghetto. I arrive, pull over and turn off my lights, which I had been doing every time I met up with him. I shoot him a text that I was here. He comes outside right away, pills in hand (no foil, no toilet paper, no baggy).

I give him the money and he gives me my drugs; I thank him and head back home. He was the shit. When he said he’d be somewhere, he was there. When he said he was good, he was always good. And he was honest too. This was his job —his livelihood. I believe he had a few kids to support so he took his work seriously.

I will say that even though he was the opposite of shady, I always found myself feeling extra nervous in his neighborhood.

I say that because why else would a white girl be making multiple trips to the hood if she’s not buying drugs? Honestly, I can’t think of anything so I’m sure onlookers thought the same thing. I mean, I didn’t want to be there, but I did what I had to do to not get sick.

And I consider myself fairly lucky that I was never caught by law enforcement. I did the crime but I wasn’t prepared to do the time. And as you may know, good luck doesn’t last either, which I was about to learn first hand.

After I get back into town with 10 more pills, I make my way to Brian’s.

I was going to grab the rest of what I was owed since he just texted me saying to come by. He was ready. I’d be set for a solid week once I picked up the 30 pills waiting for me —so far, so good. I end up hanging out with Brian for a few more hours as we chase the dragon together. It was getting late and I hadn’t been home before 11 p.m. in the last few weeks, which I knew bothered my roommate, Kent.

So when I see 11:30 on my phone, I figured it was time to call it a night. I say bye to Brain, and he says he’ll call me tomorrow as I make my way out the door and drive. I was unpleasantly surprised when I arrive home.

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Kent waited up for me and apparently, he was on to me too. I had been late the past few months on rent on top of my strange behavior. He was kind of annoyed of my incessant in and out sprees but I somehow always charmed my way out of it. I guess me coming in late and maybe being not so quiet the past several nights in a row bothered him. Me, coming in and out made enough noise that I kept waking him up whenever I’d shut the door and walk to my room.

He was used to a certain type of quiet and he thought he wanted something more but when he actually got what he was asking for, he realized, he actually didn’t want it at all. And so, he says that he knows it’s late but we have to talk.

He was kicking me out.

I was allowed to stay the night but I had to find another place to stay, fast. Somehow, the odds were in my favor when my sister tells me (the next day) that I can stay at her place since she and her husband were in Georgia on business for the next month. And so, I move out the very next morning into her condo, alone, which happened to be right down the street.

And if you remember from my intervention post, I lived there for a little over a month until I was caught red-handed. So yeah, everything does, in fact, happen for a reason. I didn’t know that or any of this at the time, but I see it now and it’s so clear.

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Back then though, this particular narrative doesn’t end particularly happily.

It took an intervention, a county ran detox, an expensive treatment center, a halfway house, a long-term faith-based rehab out of town, and a few more rock bottoms until this girl figured it out. But I wouldn’t be the chick I am today without all this chaos.

Because of the stupid situations, I found myself in, I learned the defination of strength. I discovered that bravery and determination don’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says, “I’ll try again tomorrow.” And so, whether I was pharmacy hopping, black market buying or fighting for my recovery, I know that every new day is another chance to change your life.

We just have to wake up and get there.

xoxo,

macey bee

*names have been changed to protect the privacy of the individuals involved. 

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18 thoughts on “Pharmacy Hopping & Black Market Buying: What It Was Like for a Girl to Buy Pills in South Florida Circa 2012

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