It is a lifestyle that can trap people in a vicious cycle of prison and crime and sometimes ends in violence or worse.
But one former drug dealer from Dundee has managed to turn his life around and wants to encourage others who feel they can never leave a life of crime behind.
Ex-army sniper Dane Carroll, who releases music under the alias of Metagold, was found guilty of supplying class A drugs worth nearly £900,000 at the High Court in Edinburgh and sentenced to five years in prison.
But after being released from jail in November, he is adamant he is “not returning to that lifestyle” after serving two years in HMP Perth.
The 31-year-old revealed his life has always been lived at “100mph”, after serving as a sniper in Afghanistan with the Argyll regiment.
Having already started performing and producing music, it seemed like the curtain had come down on his burgeoning career after he was snared by police.
At the point of his conviction, his tune On The Pavement had already racked up more than 40,000 views on YouTube and had attracted worldwide acclaim.
Despite his stretch in jail, Dane knew he wanted to “turn the negative situation into a positive” by penning the tracks to latest releases Jumper and The Pen while serving his time.
“These are tracks I’d worked on over 16-months ago whilst in jail, the music was something I was pushing before I got sentenced. There was a great response to tracks like On The Pavement before I went to jail,” he said.
“I couldn’t escape the lifestyle before I went to jail, I was that involved I was finding it hard to break away.
“The music was a big part of me trying to get away, I was trying to go the right way but I was just too infused in it.
“I’ll be honest when I was sentenced I was thankful it had come to an end and the time in prison helped me to break away from it.
“I could have got involved in activity on the inside but I knew this was the turning point in my life.”
Dane’s road into the murky underworld of drug dealing had come after being honourably discharged from the armed forces in December of 2015.
He had become a sniper in the Argyll regiment at the age of just 19 before going on his first tour of Afghanistan in 2010 for seven months – an experience he described as “mad”.
He added: “I joined the Argylls in 2008, I did a nine-week course as a sniper and completed the course with distinction at 19-years-old.
“It was mad, the experience of being out there, that seven-month tour was enough for me, I came back to do my course to become a corporal and completed that but my behaviour deteriorated.
“Going out and experiencing all that – I was just a baby really, I did suffer PTSD before I was given an honourable discharge in December of 2015.
“When I came out I got into that cycle and the lifestyle of earning £500 a day but despite being able to afford the material possessions it’s not a good life.
“Always looking over your shoulder and not being able to sleep at night, I’m glad I’ve gone away and came back realising these things meant nothing.”
Dane, who is now working as a barber in Salon Fierce near St John’s High School, hopes his story of coming out of prison shows people they can turn their life around.
He added: “I used to have Black Tips barbers in Arbroath, and I’ve now moved into Strathmore Avenue as part of Salon Fierce.
“As soon as I got out I was straight to work both in the shop and in the studio with my music.
“Going to prison doesn’t have to be something which stops your life. Putting that graft in and earning my money legitimately has been the best thing I could do to silence the people who didn’t think I could change.”
‘Such a rich amount of Scottish rap talent’
Dane has already released two music videos to coincide with the release of Jumper and The Pen which have led to fans from Russia and America taking an interest in the Scottish rap scene.
He added: “I’m very excited with what has happened in such a short space of time, I’ve written a lot of material while I was away and I’m eager to get it out there.
“The city has seen local rapper India Rose doing so well recently and I think there is such a rich amount of Scottish talent in the grime and rap scene.
“It’s not a music genre that people in Scotland would immediately associate with local artists producing but it is a growing scene and I’m excited to be a part of it.”