Behind bars, a convicted heroin dealer reflects on his life

We went behind bars and spoke with a mid-Missouri dealer incarcerated at the Moberly Correctional Center, about the epidemic and how he's are trying to change his life and the lives of those addicted.

Meth is no longer at the top for the drug of choice here in the Show-Me state.

Instead, heroin is reigning supreme, according to a new report by the Missouri Recovery Network.

Heroin accounted for about 500 deaths per year in Missouri, and between 2001 and 2011 heroin treatment went up by 150 percent in the state.

In 1997, about 1,500 Missourians were admitted to treatment for heroin addictions, but by 2012, that number nearly tripled.

The white powder isn't just a problem in big metropolitan areas like Kansas City and St. Louis, it's a growing problem here in mid-Missouri.

I went behind bars and spoke with a mid-Missouri dealer incarcerated at the Moberly Correctional Center about the epidemic and how he's are trying to change his life and the lives of those addicted.

"Iâ??ve been selling drugs off and on in Jefferson City since '07," the inmate, who requested to remain anonymous, said.

Moberly Correctional Center is where the former Jefferson City heroin dealer will be behind bars, paying his dues, for the next seven years.

He said when he gets out he wants to become a motivational speaker to warn people about the mistakes he made.

â??I want to help uplift the community that I helped destroy," the inmate said. "I'm planning on getting really active in the community, going to the schools, going to the group homes, juvenile centers, wherever there is troubled kids and i am going to reach out to them."

For safety reasons, the former dealer, whose drug ring was busted last year in Cole County, wished to remain anonymous.

He was addicted, not to the high of heroin, but to the money he made from selling it. He averaged about $5,500 every two days.

"You start feeding off the game, you start losing hindsight of why initially you were doing what you were doing,â?? the inmate said. â??Now you have a new reason and you want to see bigger and better things now."

He said people would be surprised by who his clients were.

"You've got some business people, some people that are parents, successful workers, farmers," he said.

For years, he managed to stay under law enforcement's radar.

He was constantly on the move. If he sold to you two or three times in one day, you never would meet him in the same spot twice.

As a dealer, he literally watched his clients' lives fall apart.

"Oh yeah, Iâ??ve watched a few of them," he said.

But he said those clients weren't dealing with him for long.

â??I stopped dealing with them,â?? the former heroin dealer said. "They became unstable and I couldn't handle an unstable person, because an unstable person would do anything for the drug."

Even with all of his precautions, officers caught up with his fast life in the end.

"I knew it was over,â?? the dealer said. â??I knew it was because everything was off, all that day. They followed me around all that day. I saw them and I was like man, this is all going down tonight. When I made the news, it just disappointed a lot of people, because a lot of people didn't know I was doing what I was doing."

Since he's been locked up, this former dealer has been dealt a tough hand.

His wife served him divorce papers and his mother died from Cirrhosis of the liver.

"She came up and saw me for my birthday last year and it was the first time...It was the first time in about 17 years that we actually got along and had a good time,â?? the former dealer said. â??And that was the last time I saw her."

The everyday conveniences he used to have are now out of bounds.

"You are insane if you want to continue to come back and be told what to do, when to do it, how to do it and where to do it," the inmate said.

This man will now watch his children and grandchildren grow up while he's behind bars.

Everybody has dreams of what they want to be when they grow up.

"I just wanted a family...I Came from a dysfunctional home, so all I ever wanted was a family. That was my dream," he said.

For now, that dream is on hold as he serves his sentence.

"There are better things out there than this,â?? the inmate said. â??There are better things out there than this. This is where you will end. This is where you will end, and they have room, they got a room for you, they keep a room ready, they keep a room ready."

He isn't alone.

According to the Department of Mental Health, about 21 percent of Missouriâ??s corrections population is serving time for a drug offense.