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The Dark, Ironic Branding Drug Dealers Use to Sell Heroin | WIRED

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The collection, featured in the book All In: Buying Into The Drug Trade, is  a typology of misery. MacIndoe says the dark, occasionally comic branding epitomize black-market entrepreneurship and risk. Names like ‘9 Lives’ and ‘Black Jack’ are a sick nod to the risks inherent in a daily heroin habit.


Beyond collecting the glassine bags, MacIndoe made self-portraits chronicling his own descent. I first saw them in early 2012, and MacIndoe and I have since become friends. New York magazine published a collection of MacIndoe’s photos alongside an interview by Susan Stellin—his domestic partner and professional collaborator—in which he frankly discusses the highs and lows of five years lost to addiction.

MacIndoe, who is from Scotland, earned a good living as a photographer before becoming an addict. His work combined vast technical know-how with an intense work ethic and was widely published. MacIndoe says he’s still unsure just how drugs crept in. It was a slow fall, one known to most addicts. The drugs got harder, their use more frequent. He started lying, denying and pushing people away. Then he lost the house, wound up in public housing and then in jail. He did four months at Rikers Island, where he refused methadone and went cold turkey. As a non-resident, MacIndoe was passed off to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), shipped to York County Prison in Pennsylvania, and faced deportation. Eventually, many of the charges against him were dropped and he was allowed to stay in the US if he sought treatment while serving his sentence. The program helped him kick his habit and understand his addiction.


Today, MacIndoe teaches at Parsons New School of Design and has won grants for his work. He’s working on several projects, including a long-term series about how new immigration laws and the threat of deportation impacts families.

All In is a pretty little book that chronicles an ugly topic, and it is neatly packaged and smartly branded — just like the heroin MacIndoe consumed. That irony isn’t lost on him.

That's such a sad line: "He's still unsure just how drugs crept in; it was a slow fall, one known to most addicts."

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