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Border Junkies

Addiction and Survival on the Streets of Juárez and El Paso

By Scott Comar

Publication Year: 2011

Published by: University of Texas Press

Series: Inter-America Series

Title Page

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pp. vii

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pp. ix-xii

The lineage of opiate narratives in Western societies stretches from the nineteenth century to the modern era: Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Thomas de Quincey, Charles Baudelaire, Arthur Rimbaud, Jean Cocteau, William S. Burroughs, Alexander Trocchi, Piri Thomas, Richard Hell. Across decades and centuries, ...

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pp. xiii

This book concerns cycles of addiction, surrender, and early recovery. It may seem repetitive because the spiraling descent one experiences while actively addicted to narcotics tends to occur in repeated patterns. Its emphasis is on my own lived experience in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, and El Paso, Texas, from 1998 to 2003. ...

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pp. xv

First, I thank Dr. Howard Campbell for encouraging me to follow through with this memoir. Second, I want to thank Richard A. Dugan of the University of Texas at El Paso for the myriad hours that he spent proofreading my original manuscript and suggesting corrections during the summer of 2009. ...

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1. Viajes

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pp. 1-14

When things go wrong, they always seem to go wrong at the worst possible time. One morning, in the late summer of 1998, I was driving through the streets of Colonia Felipe Angeles in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, with my girlfriend's brother Jorge. Jorge and I were about a minute away from his family's place. ...

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2. Arrivals

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pp. 15-30

On the Trailways bus headed south on the New York State Thruway, I spoke to a guy who had just been released from of one of the prisons upstate. He was heading back to New York City and said he had some people down there who would look out for him. I was kind of envious, since I had always liked the city ...

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3. Down and Out

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pp. 31-44

Colonia Postal and the surrounding neighborhoods are a maze of paved and dirt roads that intertwine and crisscross through hilly terrain. As the summer of 1999 wore on, I became more familiar with the shortcuts, connections, and networks near my casita. I also started to become part of the barrio in more ways than one. ...

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4. Assimilations

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pp. 45-65

During the late summer of 1999, I landed at the Rescue Mission of El Paso. The mission is located right across the river from Colonia Felipe Angeles in Juárez. After Laura dropped me off at the bridge, I walked to El Paso and checked into the mission. Upon my arrival, I completed an intake interview with ...

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5. La Navidad

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pp. 66-76

My landlord, Martín, was a nice guy and all, but like any other landlord, he wanted to get paid. I left the cuarto in early December 1999. Martín gave me an ultimatum that I knew I couldn't comply with, since I already owed him a hundred dollars in back rent. I packed my bags and tried to fit everything I had in them. ...

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6. New Millennium

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pp. 77-93

On New Year's Day 2000, large wet and slushy snowflakes covered the streets of downtown Juárez, quickly melted, and created icy pools of water. The street in front of the hotel bustled with people as the buses passed and sprayed slushy water all over the sidewalks. People filled the nightclubs, and it was a good ...

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7. Insanity Repeats Itself

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pp. 94-112

It was nice to have an apartment to go back to, but I had fallen behind on the rent and knew that at the rate I was going, I would never be able to pay it. I sold my color TV and VCR and went down to Juárez to fix again. By July 2000, everything I had built up had quickly disappeared. Finally, I just walked out of the apartment ...

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8. Migrations

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pp. 113-134

In the fall of 2000, Víctor Vásquez returned to the neighborhood. We had been friends since my first week in Juárez in 1998, and when he got back, we hung out together like before. Víctor was like a brother to me, and when he learned about my circumstances, he offered to let me stay at his mom's place with him. ...

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9. Vigilance

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pp. 135-159

The nice thing about living with Víctor's family was that when I wasn't home, they watched my room. Elsewhere in Juárez, there was always the possibility that someone would have cased my place, broken in, and cleaned me out. One weekend as I walked through the neighborhood, I was almost attacked by a group of vigilantes ...

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10. Endings and Beginnings

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pp. 160-199

The summer of 2001 went slow and fast. I had no major problems on the street. The money continued to flow, and I maintained my habit. One afternoon near the end of that summer, as I walked down the street in Juárez, I noticed a few guys moving a dentist's office. I stopped to talk to them and see whether they ...

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pp. 200-210

My intention in writing this book was to share my personal experience in the hope that someone would be able to develop a deeper understanding of what addictive patterns are all about. By no means do I want readers to develop any romanticized notions about life on the streets. The life of a street junkie is one ...

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pp. 211-214

During the summer of 2008, I met Professor Howard Campbell and shared some of my experience with him. At that time, I had no idea that people would be interested in the everyday life of a junkie on the U.S.-Mexico border. I had previously sent him an e-mail regarding his research on drug trafficking in the borderlands, ...

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E-ISBN-13: 9780292735378
E-ISBN-10: 0292735375
Print-ISBN-13: 9780292726581
Print-ISBN-10: 0292726589

Publication Year: 2011

Series Title: Inter-America Series

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Drug addicts -- Mexico -- Ciudad Juárez -- Biography.
  • Heroin abuse -- Case studies.
  • Comar, Scott.
  • Drug addicts -- Texas -- El Paso -- Biography.
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