Anthony Bourdain's Dope Confessions

Anthony Bourdain (left) in 1972 when he lived, worked and developed a heroin habit in Provincetown. MA.

On the latest episode of Parts Unknown, Anthony Bourdain travels to Massachusetts, where he examines the heroin scene there and confronts his drug-using past.

Bourdain's journey starts in Provincetown at the tip of Cape Cod, where he lived for a summer in 1972. He calls it "happier, stupider times…. You're young: You go to the beach, you get laid and you get high." Bourdain says he "washed into town with a head full of Orange Sunshine and a few friends… It was paradise… I was hanging out in a beautiful place." There's archival footage of joints being smoked (but not by Bourdain).

Next stop is Greenville, a small Western Mass town that's currently facing a heroin epidemic. 

'Everyone starts with pills,' a local doctor tells Bourdain. 'There's nobody who goes from marijuana to heroin. There's an in-between step.' 

She says people with injuries get hooked on pain pills first and when they can't get anymore, go on to heroin.

At the Recover Project. Bourdain opens up about his personal use: "The first time I shot up I looked at myself in the mirror with a big grin. Something was missing in me, whether it was a self-image situation, whether it was a character flaw… There was some dark genie inside me that led me to dope… Anybody could find themselves very easily in that situation. I looked in a mirror and I saw somebody worth saving  or I wanted to at least try real hard and save. I look back on that and I think about what I'll tell my (seven-year-old) daughter. That was daddy, no doubt about it. But I hope I'll be able to say that was daddy then, this is daddy now. That I'm alive and living in hope."

After a sumptuous clambake, Bourdain concludes that heroin addiction has always been viewed as an inner city problem. Now that it's hit small-town America more people are paying attention. "Now that it's really come home to roost, now that it's the high school quarterback, your next door neighbor, your son, your daughter, we'll accept that there's never been a real War on Drugs. War on Drugs implies us versus them. And all over this part of America people are learning there is no them, there is only us, and we're going to have to figure this out together."

Bourdain previously admitted his heroin use on CNN.

Steve Bloom

Steve Bloom

Publisher of, former editor of High Times and Freedom Leaf and co-author of Pot Culture and Reefer Movie Madness.