Former Washington Post crime reporter Ruben Castaneda has admitted to being addicted to crack cocaine while covering Washington, D.C.’s crack epidemic in the 1990s.
Castaneda made the shocking admission Sunday on CNN’s “Reliable Sources,” while promoting his new book “S Street Rising: Crack, Murder, and Redemption in D.C.”
During his appearance, Castaneda said he first sampled crack while on assignment in a rough neighborhood. “This was in September 1988, when I was working in Los Angeles for the Herald Examiner,” he said. “I was in a pretty tough neighborhood on the western edge of downtown, having to do with an immigration story.”
Castaneda said a pretty young woman approached him on the street and introduced him to the drug. “I put my reporting on hold and crossed the street to flirt with her,” he said.
His drug use continued, even after he moved to Washington, D.C. a year later to work for the Post.
Castaneda said he vowed to stop, but crack had taken control of his life. “My pledge lasted about four days … I picked up an attractive young lady who I just sensed was a crack user,” he said.
“It turned out I was right. She directed me to S Street Northwest and I developed a new routine wherein I would give her the money and she would make the buys.”
Castaneda admitted he was also a heavy drinker and often showed up for work either drunk or high.
Two years later, an editor confronted him about his addictions, forced him into a car and drove him to rehab. Castaneda believes his boss saved his life. “I’m convinced that my life would have been at risk if I had been left out on my own for another week or two.”
When asked if his drug use had a negative impact on his reporting, the author claims his addiction actually gave him insight into Washington’s drug culture.
Watch the video of Castaneda’s interview above.