Return to "48 Hours on Crack Street": Ex-addict reflects on life in the '80s, tells how he beat crack

(CBS) - Twenty five years ago, a slim, smooth-talking addict named Clarence approached "48 Hours" correspondent Bernard Goldberg and tried to sell him some crack.

"I can get the good crack," he said, in full view of CBS cameras.

Goldberg was reporting for the very first episode of "48 Hours," called "48 Hours on Crack Street." The two-hour primetime special exposed the dark and dangerous world of the nation's ballooning crack epidemic - an epidemic that would change our nation's drug laws, destroy neighborhoods, and ruin lives.

"48 Hours" cameras caught people brazenly getting high on the streets of New York City, overdosing in filthy "crack houses," and crowding hospital ERs with seizures and heart attacks induced by the powerful, cheap drug.

Clarence was just one of many. Most viewers probably assumed that by now, he'd be dead.

But Clarence is very much alive, and in November, "48 Hours" brought him back to New York. He hadn't been to the city since 1989, and, as he put it "a lot has changed."

  • Julia Dahl

    Julia Dahl writes about crime and justice for


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