NEW PORT RICHEY, Fla. -- When asked how he became involved in a reported multi-million dollar drug operation as a teenager, Douglas Dodd said it was all about accessibility.
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"That kind of just fell in my lap, honestly. We were just kind of getting out of high school and just being young guys and going into college and just partying. One thing led to another, and that just happened to be the drug of choice that was so rich in our area at the moment," Dodd said of oxycodone.
Dodd's story gained notoriety in the 2015 Rolling Stone Article "The Dukes of Oxy: How a Band of Teen Wrestlers Built a Smuggling Empire." It details how Dodd, a former Hudson High School student, and his friends shipped thousands of the pills across state lines.
"I was 18 years old. Everyone I knew was doing them. A lot of people I knew were just going to the doctor and being, 'Hey, Doctor, I want this, this, and this.' The doctor comes over, he puts your hand on your knee, has you lift up, has you stand up for a second. It's like a three-minute interview, and before you know it, you're leaving with 500 pills," Dodd said.
He estimates he and his friends were bringing in as much as $40,000 a month and that he was clearing more than $100,000 a year himself.
"I could see how everything was just caving in"
"I was just caught up in the drug addiction myself to really be able to see clarity in what I was actually doing," Dodd said.
The group was caught, and Dodd was sentenced to 80 months in federal prison. He said he served about five years of that, from the ages of 20-25.
Prison forced him to get clean, but he said he actually stopped using opioids about six months before getting arrested.
"I could see how everything was just caving in. I could see people who said that they would never use drugs, and now they're full-blown addicts. I would see family members betraying family members," he said.
Dodd said he began preparing for life after prison on his first day inside by taking classes and brushing up on writing and speaking skills.
Now 31 years old, Dodd has written a memoir, "Generation Oxy: From High School Wrestlers to Pain Pill Kingpins," and is working on another. He's also a motivational speaker and graduated from Pasco-Hernando State College this fall with an Associate in Arts Degree.
"Even as a student, I noticed that Doug had great tenacity and fortitude," said Kelvin Faison, an associate professor of psychology at PHSC. "I think that it's amazing that he was able to bounce back, and I consider it to be quite a miraculous experience."
Delivering a message of hope
Dodd said he went back to school to gain skills for his work in realty, as well as his future goals. That includes establishing his own drug treatment center.
"It's kind of self-fulfilling to me to kind of help other individuals get through the trenches and to overcome. I think it's very hard, and at the end of the day, it really relies on the person and how bad do they want it," Dodd said. "That's kind of like the ten-year goal, and then the 20 years, I joke around and say I want to run for governor."
In the nearer future, Dodd hopes to see his story on the big screen. Deadline reports New Line Cinema has planned a movie starring Ansel Elgort. Dodd said there's been a change in screenwriters, but he believes the project is still moving along.
He said there's a message he hopes his story brings to those struggling with addiction.
"There actually is a lot of hope out there. There's success stories every single day, and I think if you put in the work, you can accomplish anything you want," Dodd said.