Oral history interview with Abe D., 1980


D., Abe (Interviewee)
Courtwright, David T., 1952- (Interviewer)
Joseph, Herman, 1931- (Interviewer)
Oral history interview with Abe D., 1980
Other Titles
Reminiscences of Abe D., 1980; Oral history of Abe D., 1980
Abe D. discusses his life in New York, with specific attention to his drug use. He recalls his introduction to opium, at the age of ten, through his gang of pickpockets. He recalls various legal and illegal jobs supported him and his family throughout the years. He recalls the major players in the opium scene: Chinese, Jewish, and Italian immigrants, and defines an opium "den." He discusses methods of opium intake, changes in its price, how addicts coped with the shortages during the Second World War, and especially transitions to other drugs including Dilaudid, heroin, and methadone. His family life is also chronicled, especially the secrecy from his children and others about his addiction. His wife Edith is present in the interview
Collection Name
Addicts Who Survived oral history collection
Drug addicts--United States; Drug abuse--History--20th century.--United States; Opium abuse--History--20th century.--United States; Methadone maintenance--History--20th century--United States; D., Abe; D., Edith
oral histories
Physical Description
101 pages
Note (Biographical)
Born December 24, 1904, of Russian Jewish descent, Abe D. was an only child, raised by his grandmother in the Lower East Side. His formal education ended in elementary school. He was an opium addict, who began experimenting at age ten. He engaged in p etty crime which evolved into home theft, cracking safes, running card games, and taking gambling bets, before he moved onto operating several dress shops. He lost those shops when he started using heroin in his 70s, and returned to theft to make ends meet. He and his wife Edith had two children. By the 1980s, he and Edith were in a detox and rehabilitation clinic. Abe D. was interviewed for the project that led to the book Addicts Who Survived. The name is likely a pseudonym for the project. In the book, Abe D. was referred to by the pseudonym "Al"
Interviewed by David Courtwright and Herman Joseph on May 9, 1980
Note (Provenance)
David Courtwright, Herman Joseph, and Don Des Jarlais, Gift, 1988
Library Location
Columbia Center for Oral History, Columbia University
Browse Location’s Digital Content
Catalog Record
Also In
Oral History Archives at Columbia
Time-Based Media
Time-Based Media
Persistent URL
Related URLs
Available digital content for this interview.