The decision to go to drug rehabilitation for most people is either forced upon them by the law, family, or ultimatums. It can be assumed that those addicts will be the least successful in their journey through recovery. However, another smaller percentage of addicts want to recover from their addiction because it is their choice to change their life style and better themselves. It can be assumed that their desire to recover will lead them to become the most successful patients. In A Million Little Pieces by James Frey, James faced the same dilemma: Does he really want to get better or does he want to drown himself in drugs?
Throughout the memoir, James struggles to come to a conclusion while facing demons from his past that were waiting for him when he became sober. Not only did he have to deal with his past but he also had to deal with other addicts who frankly did not want to be in rehab. Another part of rehabilitation that was difficult for James was following the structure of the 12 Steps program which was adopted by the rehabilitation center. As James saw it, by adopting the 12 Step program he was simply replacing one addiction for another. There were also aspects of the 12 Steps that James disagreed with and refused to follow.
He saw himself as being the exception to the rule and intended to get through rehabilitation on his own terms. Once he was released from rehab, James tested himself. This test consisted of him going to a bar, having the bar keep pour him a large glass of whiskey, and tempting himself. Now the question stands, ‘Was James truly successful and rehabilitated? ’ In my opinion, I believe he was. James faced the things that drove him to take drugs and alcohol. He conquered his demons and was willing to change himself because he no longer wanted to walk the destructive path that he was on for any longer.
Although he was very defensive and refused to follow the structure set up by the rehabilitation center, he was still able to recover. However if this question was asked to one of the rehabilitation coordinators, like Lincoln, the answer may be no. Lincoln may respond that for now, James is recovered, however it is only a short term recovery and he will relapse soon enough. Lincoln may see this as a possibility for James because he believes that he did not learn the sort of discipline needed to maintain sobriety, mainly because Lincoln himself tried this method and failed.
The improvements that James made from the beginning of the memoir up to the end can be seen in both his mental state and his physical appearance. In the beginning, his physical appearance, in my opinion, mirrored his mental state. He was beaten down, bloodied, looked as though he was dead. Mentally, he was in a place where he was ready to take as many drugs as possible, enough to kill himself because he felt that his existence on this earth was pointless and the only thing that he would do is hurt the people around him.
He convinced himself that the best thing for himself and for everyone around him was for him to die and end the pain. “I can imagine my obituary. The truth of my existence will be removed and replaced with imagined good. The reality of how I lived will be avoided and changed and phrases will be dropped in like Beloved Son, Loving Brother, Reliable Friend, Hardworking Student. People will change their view of me, from reckless Fuck-Up to helpless Martyr, from dangerous Fool to sad Victim, from addicted Asshole to unfortunate Child.
They will say things like my God, what a waste. Oh, what he could have been. He had so much going for him, what happened? And it will be fucking false; every single word of it will be false. I know who I am and I know what I’ve done and I know why I am about to die. I have faced the reality and the reality is simple. I am an Alcoholic and I am a drug Addict and I am a Criminal. That is what I am and who I am and that is how I should be remembered. No happy lies, no invented memories, no fake sentimentality, no tears.
I do not deserve tears. I deserved to be portrayed honestly and I deserve nothing more and I start to write an honest obituary in my own mind. I write the obituary that should appear, but never will. I start at the beginning and I stick to the facts and I move to what I know will be my end… ” (p. 94). This quote shows the state that James is in. He is describing how he thinks of himself and how he wants his family to remember him. It seemed like as James’s physical condition got better so did his mental state.
As it was said before, in the beginning James wanted to die; he saw no hope for himself or a future. After detoxing and getting his teeth fixed, his mental state improved slightly, however he still wanted to die. His mental state could not be cured on its own, and needed a relationship to improve. Leonard, another patient, stepped into James’s life at the right time and saved him as he was about to leave the clinic. “I look less like what I am and more like a human being. I am becoming more like a human being. ” (p. 220). In this quotation, James ees himself as a person now. His mental state is improving and he can make changes in his life that will last. Now that James had support from people outside of his family, his mental state started to improve. He could now positively impact another person whom he had respected. When James’s physical wellbeing was at its top, so was James’s mental health. He could see what his future could be if he stayed sober and that is what he intended to do. Works Cited Frey, James. A Million Little Pieces. New York: N. A. Talese/Doubleday, 2003. Print.