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Ironically, the very abundance of its clichés has likely helped make it a runaway best seller: People, after all, like having their suspicions confirmed.For nonaddicts, reinforces the still dangerously prevalent notion that it’s easy to spot a drug addict or an alcoholic—they’re the ones bleeding from holes in their cheeks or getting beaten down by the police or doing hard time with killers and rapists.I grew up in a well-off suburban household with loving parents and no clear traumas in my past.
I was also miserably, sometimes almost suicidally, depressed, and, from the age of 15, I was taking drugs and drinking almost every day.
Frey must have felt that his real, very scary, and very lonely feelings would have seemed weak if it was only preceded by standard-issue suburban teenage angst. In rehab—I attended somewhere between a half-dozen and a dozen in-patient facilities—it’s fairly standard for new patients to begin their stays by boasting of their fearlessness, their criminal bona fides, their extreme debauchery. I’d elide over the fact that my two arrests resulted in no convictions.
Frey’s hardcover publisher, Doubleday, is still standing by a book that Oprah helped catapult to mega-bestsellerdom, proclaiming that “recent accusations against [Frey] notwithstanding, the power of the overall reading experience is such that the book remains a deeply inspiring and redemptive story for millions of readers.” But by Frey’s own calculus, those readers are in fact owed an apology—or at least an explanation.
, Frey writes about crippling ear infections he suffered from as a child (a claim the Smoking Gun has not contested).
Oprah might feel a bit foolish, and presumably at least some of the 3 million-plus people who bought Frey’s book will feel ripped off, but that in itself is not cause for any serious outcry.
—one of the best-selling books about drug addiction ever written—has been trumpeted as an unflinching, real-life look into the world of a drug addict, it has helped to shape people’s notions about drug abuse.
For those struggling with their own substance-abuse issues, sends the message that unless you’ve reached the depths Frey describes, you don’t have anything to worry about—you’re a Fraud.
And if you do have a problem, you don’t need to necessarily get treatment or look to others for support; all you need to do is “hold on.” In building up a false bogeyman—the American recovery movement’s supposed reliance on the notion of “victimhood”—Frey has set himself up as the one, truth-telling savior.
He holds up his arms in triumph and he smiles and he bows and his black leather is shining and his long, greasy black hair is hanging and his patterned silk shirt is flowing …He claims that at the height of his use he would do five thousand dollars of cocaine and heroin a day mixed with four to five fifths of booze a night and up to 40 pills of valium to sleep.
He says this with complete sincerity and with the utmost seriousness. Were I in my normal frame of mind, I would stand up, point my finger, scream Fraud, and chase this Chump Motherfucker down and give him a beating.