He was grabbed by the belt buckle and hit in the face before he knew what was happening.
Feeling himself bleeding, he looked up before the man yelled at him again.
“Gimme your s—t now!”
Logan Johnk put his money on the floor, and his phone too, at the drug dealer’s command. With a gun to his back, he was led from the north Minneapolis house before the dealer told him to never come back.
It was February 2015, and Johnk had hit a turning point in his heroin addiction.
“I’m not gonna say it was the lowest, but that was the light bulb moment,” he said.
Johnk, a freshman in psychology, had been using heroin and other drugs between the ages of 16 and 21 before last year, when he began his longest stretch of abstinence from drugs.
Johnk grew up in Page, N.D. His father was a farmer, his mother a retired pharmaceutical representative. He went to four different schools before earning his GED in 2013, but throughout all that, something was missing.
“I just kept searching, searching, searching for something to put that feeling aside to make me feel good about myself,” he said.
He was a baseball standout, but tendonitis later kept him from playing. The sport was the only thing he felt confident in, he said.
When he was 16, a friend asked Johnk if he wanted to try marijuana.
“I told him I wanted to get stoned. … I thought maybe it would help me feel better,” Johnk said.
Johnk said he had never experienced mind- and body-altering drugs before. He felt out of control.
But it felt good.
“I had found what I wanted to feel better,” Johnk said.
For a while he played around with marijuana, and then more.
“I was hanging out with a friend who said, ‘Have you ever tried this before?'” Johnk said.
Before him was a tiny, blue, circular pill of instant-release Oxycodone. Johnk’s friend said he could ingest it any way — pop it, smoke it, snort it, whatever.
“So I said, ‘OK, let me hit it,'” Johnk said. “I remember inhaling that and just this warm, tingling, loving, just wow feeling. It was like the best thing I had ever been looking for in my life.”
Getting high became more than an escape for Johnk after being introduced to marijuana and Oxy.
“It was a ritual,” he said. “It wasn’t getting high. It was everything about it, going and getting it, coming back, getting the foil, pressing the foil down, making it flat.”
After Oxycodone, Johnk’s friend offered him something else for the same price, something that lasted longer.
Something called “H” that came as a small, black, tarry sphere.
“It’s heroin,” his friend said.
“I said, ‘Yeah, let’s do it,'” Johnk said.
From there, “heroin took over,” he added.
“I was all right for a couple months on it,” Johnk said. “I’m only gonna get high Friday, Saturday, then I’ll chill Sunday and maintain my week … and then before you know it, it’s just an everyday thing.”
It wasn’t until he was 18 that Johnk said he really fell into heroin’s clutches.
It was also around this time that he and his best friend stopped talking due to money or another quarrel, Johnk said. The two had been inseparable.
“If you saw me, you saw him,” he said. “That’s how it was.”
Johnk, seeing how well his friend was doing after their split, decided to leave town. He said he was paying too much for Fargo heroin.
“I decided to go on an adventure to find it myself,” he said.
Johnk bought heroin at a Mall of America bar.
The price was different than Fargo. Two years ago, Johnk estimated, a gram of heroin could go for $100 in Minneapolis, compared to $600 per gram in Fargo.
He started heroin using points, or one tenth of a gram, which cost him $40-60 in Fargo but $10 in Minneapolis.
“We’re talking like a 600 percent something profit,” Johnk said. “It’s incredible. That’s why all these dope dealers are from everywhere else but here.”
Finding a heroin supplier in Minneapolis was risky. Getting to that point was a dark path.
It began with Johnk’s suicide attempt at Fargo’s Motel 6.
“I bought two patches of Fentanyl. I went to Motel 6, and I decided I was gonna kill myself because I needed to get outta this f—kin’ hell that I was in. Getting high, getting sick, losing relationships … so I decided this life wasn’t worth living if this was how hard I had to work for it,” Johnk said.
But at 11 p.m., a man selling cologne came to his door.
Johnk asked him for heroin.
“Within four hours, I was on my way to Minneapolis,” he said, “and conducted the shadiest drug deal I’ve ever done in my life.”
‘Happier than f—k’
The Motel 6 solicitor gave Johnk an address. When he pulled up in his car, Johnk tried to park a block away. By mistake, he parked in front of the house.
Eight or 10 people were smoking on the porch when Johnk jumped out.
The people began to follow him, so he got back into his car before the Motel 6 man chastised him and got in. They drove to a housing project.
They picked up a drug dealer, made the transaction and Johnk dropped them both off.
And he came home to Fargo “happier than f—k.”
“The feeling I got coming … to Fargo, North Dakota, it was like the feeling of ‘I’m the man,'” Johnk said, adding how “very, very delusional” that frame of thinking was.
In 24 hours, he had gone from the brink of suicide to ecstasy “all because of the heroin,” he said.
For two more months, Johnk continued buying until his relationship with his dealer ended after the man tried to rob him.
He continued to use and get high, “just running around with my head cut off.”
Johnk wound up in treatment after a warrant for his arrest in connection to a DUI charge.
So he went to treatment. Again.
Johnk’s parents spent $100,000 for his 13 trips to treatment. He went to Fargo to get help. He went to Malibu, California, to get help. He went to Dallas to get help.
He spent anywhere from 30 minutes to a month at the various centers he visited. While it took 13 attempts to get clean, he said the 13th time was what mattered.
“Treatment will not work for someone who doesn’t want it,” Johnk said.
While in Malibu, he met a 37-year-old patient named Erin. She helped encourage him and later paid for his travel and treatment at a Texas center after Johnk fled Fargo when his mother and police tried to intervene.
“She was just a really good lady,” Johnk said of Erin. “Just the best woman I’ve ever met.”
After his stint in Texas, Johnk moved to Tucson to be with his then-girlfriend of a year and a half, though they later went separate ways. Johnk was sobering up after getting on Suboxone following a stay at Dallas’s Greenhouse.
He decided to try and get clean.
Johnk returned to Fargo last Halloween and enrolled at NDSU to be near his family and to pursue psychology and an addiction counselor license.
He’s been sober since June.
“There’s nothing out here that can fill that void,” he said.
He’s made a few friends since starting school, but it’s hard.
“It’s a lot different because you go from being somebody who people want to hang out with to not having any friends,” Johnk said.
But one friend from the past does remain — the one who got him using in the first place.
He’s a year ahead of Johnk in sobriety and the two stay in touch to help each other.
“I call my friend, and I tell him how I’m feeling,” Johnk said. “He gets just as much out of it as I do. He helps me, but I in turn help him.”
Johnk also attends a sobriety program and is on supervised probation as part of his DUI charge.
He said he’d like to help other people too, be it alcoholism or other addictions.
“This isn’t a f—king choice for people. This is a disease. And this may cause some f—king opinions,” he said. “It does no good sitting there and being poor me. Poor me, I f—king got high, that’s not how life is. I find strength in telling this.”
He said he doesn’t consider himself a success, but he is in a better place.
“I’ve lost trust in my relationships, parents, friends,” Johnk said. “I’ve lost valuable and precious time. I’ve lost friends by choice and by death.
“I wonder what would happen if I didn’t choose this. How would my life be now? I wonder what if a lot.”
Editor’s note: Logan Johnk relapsed April 14 and returned to treatment Wednesday, taking leave from school. He would like to make himself available for confidential support for other addicts. He can be reached at email@example.com.