Dopefiend—Donald Goines

Raw. This is the word that describes Dopefiend. Based in a Detroit ghetto, Goines tells you the story about his experiences as an addict. He places the reader in very uncomfortable situations: junkies getting their fix, prostitutes with their “johns,”  and the use of heroine being cooked up. Goines hits you with the needle that leaves a mark in your psyche.

Like any great novel, the unexpected is vital. In Dopefiend, the unexpected is deliberately disturbing. There are very few characters in this novel, but they impact each chapter.

Donald Goines, Dopefiend, 1971
Donald Goines, Dopefiend, 1971

Porky, the dealer, controls the highs and lows of his junkies with the quality of his white powder. Terry, a junkie, uses his girlfriend and friends just to get a fix. Terry, Teddy’s girl, becomes her parents worst nightmare as the story progresses: Their beautiful girl turned addict.

As the junkies need their fix, (to get better, or just to get by), Goines vicariously makes you feel their predicament. You’re in the middle of the inner city circle of death. Horrifying, but real.

I recommend this Dopefiend by Donald Goines:  An extraordinary story of the ordinary life of a hardcore junkie. Most importantly, this book is Raw.

This book is available for purchase at



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