Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Just Another Lying Drug Addict

A book that has been hugely successful concerning recovery from alcoholism and drug addiction is A Million Little Pieces by James Frey. It is harrowing, inspiring, dramatic . . . and apparently full of shit. While the book has sold more than 3.5 million copies and was chosen to be featured in Oprah Winfrey's book club, the web site The Smoking Gun has called into question many of the incidents reported as fact in this supposedly autobiographical book.
. . . [A] six-week investigation by The Smoking Gun reveals that there may be a lot less to love about Frey's runaway hit, which has sold more than 3.5 million copies and, thanks to Winfrey, has sat atop The New York Times nonfiction paperback best seller list for the past 15 weeks. Next to the latest Harry Potter title, Nielsen BookScan reported Friday, Frey's book sold more copies in the U.S. in 2005--1.77 million--than any other title, with the majority of that total coming after Winfrey's selection.

Police reports, court records, interviews with law enforcement personnel, and other sources have put the lie to many key sections of Frey's book. The 36-year-old author, these documents and interviews show, wholly fabricated or wildly embellished details of his purported criminal career, jail terms, and status as an outlaw "wanted in three states."
Concerning one arrest incident, the Smoking Gun goes into great detail in obtaining arrest reports and accounts from police who were involved to find:
There was no patrolman struck with a car.

There was no urgent call for backup.

There was no rebuffed request to exit the car.

There was no "You want me out, then get me out."

There was no "fucking Pigs" taunt.

There were no swings at cops.

There was no billy club beatdown.

There was no kicking and screaming.

There was no mayhem.

There was no attempted riot inciting.

There were no 30 witnesses.

There was no .29 blood alcohol test.

There was no crack.

There was no Assault with a Deadly Weapon, Assaulting an Officer of the Law, Felony DUI, Disturbing the Peace, Resisting Arrest, Driving Without Insurance, Attempted Incitement of a Riot, Possession of a Narcotic with Intent to Distribute, or Felony Mayhem.

All this is really despicable to be sure. Also is this piece of information:
Frey rejected the Twelve Step approach and considers addiction a weakness, not a disease (cancer and Parkinson's are diseases, he points out). Frey's reported post-Hazelden recovery was unorthodox, hinging on his ability to continually surmount temptation, thanks to a superhuman will that helped him avoid using at the same time he was purposely placing himself in situations where alcohol and drugs were prevalent. For those struggling with substance abuse, Frey is a shiny, relapse-free success story, a man who beat formidable odds with steely resolve.
And here may be the most harmful thing about this whole affair. Alcoholism and addiction have been considered diseases by medical authorities such as the AMA for years. One of the biggest steps towards handling these problems with compassion and dignity was when they were not considered moral failings, but sickness. Now here comes this guy, who to sell a few books (and make himself look like a strong and "steely" hero) is willing not only to lie, but to turn this whole model of treatment upside down. What a greedy creep.

Read the story on The Smoking Gun site. Check out this charlatan, and take what he says for what it is: the ranting of a first-class con artist. I hope exposing this liar for what he is keeps him from doing too much harm to too many people who need recovery.

(Update: This has gotta hurt.)

(Update 2: or, maybe not so much.)

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