He has lots of cash, the lifestyle that goes with it and a sense of power. But Jeff, a drug dealer from Bristol, does not have what he craves: security, happiness and the option of just going to the pub without worrying about getting waylaid by the police, or an armed rival.
"I've got a great car, I've got all the girls I want but is it enough?" he says. "Not really. I'm always looking over my shoulder, wondering when my number may be up."
And he feels guilt, not an emotion always associated with his profession. "I see the looks I get from people in the area. Most of them hate me and hate what dealers do to their neighbourhood. I'm in my 30s and this is a young man's game. If there was a way out, I'd take it."
A pioneering, government-funded project, called Switch, has just been launched in inner-city Bristol and aims to give people like Jeff that way out.
Most drugs projects target users, but Switch works with dealers, to help them move towards education, counselling, rehabilitation, housing and financial advice. It has nothing to do with the police but is the brainchild of three local drugs and alcohol agencies: Community Action Around Alcohol and Drugs, IDEAL, and Nilaari.
Lee Vaughan, one of Switch's two outreach workers, says: "Many of the dealers we speak to are desperate to get out. We want to help them do that."
The concept of the project, the first of its kind in the UK, is straightforward. Vaughan and his colleague, Vernon Blanc, spend their evenings walking around Barton Hill, a deprived area a couple of miles to the east of Bristol city centre, and nearby neighbourhoods. They talk to dealers, they drop off calling cards in pubs and pin their flyers up in cafes. If a dealer shows interest, they arrange follow-up meetings and suggest ways of giving him or her the support and skills they need to break away from the streets.
It is hard and dangerous work. The pair are trying to win over people who have a well-founded mistrust of strangers. "If it's perceived as being anything to do with the police, it won't work. They've got to believe that what they say to us will be confidential, which it is," says Vaughan.
The police know about the project and there are mugshots of Vaughan and Blanc at the local station so officers can give the outreach workers a bit of space if they run into them on the streets.
But that also means Vaughan and Blanc are pretty much on their own if they find they have run into trouble, though the pair say they feel safe.
"We have lots of contacts and I think we have a feel for when a situation could be too dangerous," says Vaughan. "Many in the community know what we're doing and are behind us."
Vaughan accepts that the major dealers at the top of the supply chain are beyond their reach, but adds that Switch targets a wide range of dealers. It focuses on user-dealers - those who dabble in dealing to fund their own drug habits, and Vaughan and Blanc try to persuade street dealers who may have two or three runners working for them to stop selling drugs, as well as those at the next level, such as Jeff, who make decent money.
Switch was partly inspired by a project in Baltimore, Maryland, a city with an estimated 40,000 addicts. In 2005, the then police commissioner, Leonard Hamm, noticed how many dealers, especially more mature ones, were telling him and his officers that they were tired of their dangerous trade and wanted a way out. Groups of officers began patrolling the streets in T-shirts emblazoned with "Get out of the game. Stop killing people" and handing out leaflets that posed questions such as: "Are you afraid to leave home without your weapon?" and "Does your family ask you to stay away from them?" If the answers are yes, the leaflet suggests they look for a new career.
The Baltimore project is still going strong: officer Keith Harrison says that between 200 and 250 people - drug dealers, gang members and addicts - join every year. "We are still finding that a lot of people want to be helped out of a life of crime. The biggest problem we have is finding employers willing to take them on."
Vaughan and Blanc are under no illusions about the difficulty of their work. In the short term their objective is to build up trust with dealers; by the end of 18 months they aim to have referred at least 20 dealers to a programme providing the support and advice that will help them quit - a tiny percentage of Bristol's street dealers. Vaughan suspects not all local people will be easily convinced of the need to spend public money rescuing dealers. But the alternative, he points out, is simply waiting for dealers to be convicted and imprisoned - a potentially much more costly use of public money.
But what do the dealers make of the project? Guy (not his real name), who used to be a dealer before deciding to mend his ways while in jail and is now a drugs project mentor, says he believes there are many dealers who want out and would be interested. "It's not a good life," he says. "When I was dealing, I constantly had people after me. You didn't have a quiet life, ever. You couldn't just go to the movies - you were always on your guard. Many do want something different."
Guy, who came to the UK from Jamaica and says he fell into dealing because he struggled to get legitimate work, said the driving force behind his reform was the shame he felt at destroying the lives of other people and his community. "The community is important in our culture," he says. "I could see the harm I was doing."
Sense of guilt
Switch is hoping to tap into this sense of community - and the perhaps surprising sense of guilt that dealers can feel.
Nick Bentley, director of Ideal, says he hopes that Switch can come to be seen as a group that residents can call on to help with problems caused by drug-users. "If there's antisocial behaviour and they don't want to call the police, then Switch [might be able] to help."
But the drugs scene in Bristol is becoming ever more complex. The Switch team says Somalian gangs are becoming stronger and the more established West Indian gangs are fighting for ever smaller and more fractured turfs.
Bentley accepts Switch faces an "uphill struggle" and while the police have been encouraging in their support of the project, privately police officers are sceptical that the outreach workers can make a difference. One Avon and Somerset officer says: "It's worth a go and I wish them well. But will they really be able to convince a drug dealer making a lot of money to give it all up and get a proper job? I'm not convinced. I know a lot of dealers who'd just laugh in their faces - but good luck to them. Anything that takes a dealer off the street is good as far as we're concerned."
The scheme is certainly tiny compared with its Baltimore big brother. It receives a grant of only £100,000 - enough for just 18 months - from the New Deal for Communities fund, which goes to the most deprived neighbourhoods in England.
Still, agencies from around the country are watching Switch with interest. Gary Wallace, the chief executive of Broadreach House, a treatment and support centre in Plymouth, says outreach workers have long worked with dealers, but not in Switch's formal or high-profile way.
Wallace believes more radical projects like Switch may become more important because of the increase in drug users in treatment programmes. It may now take different, more original approaches to keep the numbers of users outside the system falling. "As we reach the point where the 'easier' people are in treatment, we're going to have to find more radical ways of helping the others," he says. "Schemes like this could be one way."
Switch only launched in the spring so it is still early days, but there are encouraging signs that the community is behind the project, despite public money being used to help some of the most feared and despised members of society, and there has not yet been the backlash that some feared. Only time will tell if it will take dealers like Jeff off the street.
Dear Drugs-Forum readers: We are a small non-profit that runs one of the most read drug information & addiction help websites in the world. We serve over 4 million readers per month, and have costs like all popular websites: servers, hosting, licenses and software. To protect our independence we do not run ads. We take no government funds. We run on donations which average $25. If everyone reading this would donate $5 then this fund raiser would be done in an hour. If Drugs-Forum is useful to you, take one minute to keep it online another year by donating whatever you can today. Donations are currently not sufficient to pay our bills and keep the site up. Your help is most welcome. Thank you.