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I was better off in jail, says Douglas's drug addict son

The imprisoned son of actor Michael Douglas said that he would have been better off staying in jail rather than being freed on bail after he was arrested in New York on drug charges two years ago.

Cameron Douglas (32) told the Manhattan trial of his alleged drug supplier yesterday that he learned only when he returned to federal prison that drug-addicted inmates are treated when they arrive.

Instead, he was freed on bail after his arrest in July 2009 for dealing methamphetamine from a Manhattan hotel.

He said he had been addicted to heroin for five years when he went to stay with his mother as part of his bail package after a brief stop at the Metropolitan Correctional Centre (MCC).

"They provide you with methadone when you're a heroin addict. I would have been better off if I had stayed at the MCC. I didn't know that they provided methadone at the MCC until I got back there," he said.

The son of the Oscar-winning actor eventually pleaded guilty to charges and agreed to cooperate in a deal that secured him a five-year prison term, well short of the mandatory minimum of 10 years in prison.

Douglas was called by the government as part of his deal to testify against a man he claims supplied him with drugs. Wearing a short-sleeve shirt that revealed his tattooed arms, he was calm on the stand. He described distributing about 20lb (9kg) of crystal meth in 2006 and 2007 before he said he became disenchanted with selling drugs.

Defence lawyer Louis Aidala confronted Douglas repeatedly about his own failings in a bid to discredit his testimony for the jury.

At one point, he asked if he ever worried that his father might be affected by his drug dealing when he was accepting payments for drugs while he was staying at a home his father rented in California.

"I don't really have an answer for that," Douglas said.

Douglas said his father provided some money when he tried to become involved in a nightclub in midtown Manhattan, but the younger Douglas ended up losing about $150,000 in the venture.

Douglas conceded that his life could have turned out much better. "I definitely had the opportunity to and I was too immature, too reckless," he said. "At some point, those opportunities were closed to me." Last year, Michael Douglas told NBC's Today that he believes his son's prison sentence might help him beat the drug habit that has plagued him since he was 13.