Q&A With Jeff Dubay

The former sports radio host comes clean to reporter Steve Marsh about his descent into crack cocaine addiction.

Q&A With Jeff Dubay

For years, Jeff Dubay talked Minnesota sports from 9 a.m. to noon on KFAN’s PA and Dubay Show. Paul Allen was the cheesed-out, Hall and Oates–loving smoothie. Dubay was the spazzy studio surrogate for the fan at home. After big victories and big losses, Dubay’s timbre would resonate at such a high pitch you thought he was going to have a nervous breakdown. That changed three years ago, when Dubay was arrested for possession of crack cocaine and fired. Now sober, he still has that magnetic nervous energy that reminds you how much fun it was to listen to him talk about the Twins and the Vikings. But now he’s talking about something else entirely.

You’ve been vague about the “family tragedy” that precipitated your crack use. What happened? My brother slept with my wife. They’re still together and they have a kid. We can go on the record, but let me make this clear: It was not the cause of my addiction. The cause of my addiction was bad decisions. My addiction is my responsibility.

Do you have a relationship with your brother? For two years, I almost pretended like it didn’t happen. And I was chummy-chummy with him. Then all of the sudden I got sober and I realized, “I’m pissed!” Now I don’t talk to him. I didn’t exactly handle this in a healthy way.

“You shut off emotions during your use, and all of the sudden you flip a switch and they come pouring back in. I mean, I cry at commercials.“

You seemed like such an innocent. How did you start hanging out with crackheads? I started going to weird websites—nothing dangerous, nothing gay (not that there’s anything wrong with that)—lonely people websites. And I started talking to people, you know, “Come hang out—we got a good group of people. We like to party.” I figured “party” meant “party.” I didn’t know it meant “get high.”

You were a weekend warrior? When I was contemplating whether or not to use it that first time, I thought, you know what, you’ve never done anything wrong in your life, you’ve had a brutal year, you make enough money, it’s Friday night, if you take a 24- or 48-hour mental vacation, don’t you deserve it? If I would have known that it was a three-year rabbit hole and not a two-day rabbit hole, I never would’ve done it.

How much money were you making? All my jobs together, like $150,000. But it was going away fast. I mean, crack will wipe you out. The first time I used crack, I vividly remember this incredible orgasmic rush over my body.

It seems like you wanted to get arrested the night you were pulled over. Yeah. When you smoke, you become so utterly paranoid you don’t think straight. At all. You really don’t. But I mean, to throw the half-gram out of the window would’ve been dumb enough, but to wrap it in a yellow napkin so it looks like a holding penalty on somebody?

What made you want to quit? You can pretty much divide my using up into the first year and the last year and a half it took me to quit. The arrest came about a year in, and everything changed after that. For a year I was having a blast. Right after the arrest, I couldn’t enjoy it anymore. If I took crack right now, I wouldn’t feel good for a second. I would have a stomachache instantly, I’d gag, I’d be scared to death, I’d be under that table thinking that somebody is coming to get me. I mean, there literally wouldn’t be 10 seconds of enjoyment. After the arrest, it stopped being fun. But to illustrate the power of the drug, I still did it for a year and a half.

During that first year you were on the air every day at 9 a.m. If I had a day where I’m really pushing it, it took me a couple hours to come down and chill out. If I had a day where I didn’t give myself those two hours, I’d call in sick. I didn’t have to do it very often, but I had to do it. But when we went in, to sit down with Chad Abbott and tell him I need to take a few weeks and go to treatment, his jaw dropped. He said, “I had no idea. I see you every day. The show hasn’t changed. I would’ve never known.”

It wasn’t noticeable? No, but I was falling behind on bills. I was getting foreclosure notices. If you have cash and you can pay a bill or buy crack, you buy crack.

Your best friend is Paul Allen. He was. We didn’t stay close. We didn’t talk for three years.

When did you stop? When I got fired. That was pretty much it. But it wasn’t anything personal. I don’t hold any resentment.

This whole thing is wrapped up with so much shame. That’s part of the reason I didn’t call PA for three years. For two, three years I wanted to live underground. I left my house with my hood up. I was embarrassed. I was ashamed. I was a scourge. A loser.

You were just passed over for a job by K-TWIN. Would you move to another market? No. Because I couldn’t do it in another market. The only reason I was good at what I did is because I grew up diehard Minnesota sports. I have to admit, I don’t have a great plan.

When’s the last time you smoked crack? March of 2011. That first year you feel everything. You shut off emotions during your use, and all of the sudden you flip a switch and they come pouring back in. I mean, I cry at commercials.

Do you ever think you were in for a hellish time after your divorce no matter what? I wonder what would’ve happened if I wouldn’t have picked crack cocaine. A month later I could’ve picked heroin. Or maybe I would’ve just committed suicide. Or just gone insane from depression. I stood on a ledge a couple times, but I couldn’t do it. They pulled me out of a garage once. The first year of sobriety is maybe the hardest year. I was on Xanax for like two months and it made me a mental case. So I just said f--- it, I’m going to have an organic recovery. They said, “but you’ll feel so bad!” And my answer was, if I don’t feel shitty right now, when am I ever going to feel shitty? So I just said I’m just going to feel it all and just go do it. It was a lot to feel, but I still think it was the right thing to do.