A Million Little Pieces Theme Essay

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Monique Paquette
Mrs. Ambos
ENG4UI
January 6th 2013
A Million Little Pieces Put Back Together
The world is full of people striving to be the best they can be. When one finds themselves far from the social idea of “perfect” there is a strong need to improve. While self-improvement is hard, it is also a necessary part of life, setting goals for how one wants their life to turn out. Addiction is a huge obstacle in the way of perfection it can destroy lives when the person with the addiction does not want to change. In the memoir A Million Little Pieces the writer and main character, James Frey, leads a drug addicted life that he turns around in a Minnesota rehab center, demonstrating that self-improvement is the way to salvation. This proves to be a main theme in this work, all throughout showing how he goes from barely functioning to a person full of life and hope for a better future. Frey’s improvement as a person springs from his self-reliant attitude, acceptance of pain, and support from family and family, leaving his rehabilitation experience successful.

James’s recovery is admirable because he takes full responsibility for how his life has turned out and he plans on fixing it himself, just as he has ruined it himself. His first decision going into rehab is that he will not follow the AA program that is recommended by his counselors. 15% of people are successful for a year after using AA, which is the highest rate of success in any rehabilitation program. In James’s mind AA does not solve a problem but just masks it. After giving it a fair chance, he explains, “I have been to AA Meetings and they have left me cold. I find the philosophy to be one of replacement. Replacement of one addiction with another addiction…Though the people in [AA] are no longer drinking and doing drugs, they’re still living with the obsession…Take away their meetings and their Dogma and their God…Take them away and they have an addiction” (Frey 76-78). The glossed over looks he sees in people’s eyes who are devoted to AA are the same eyes of those who have addictions to drugs or alcohol. Being obsessed with God and the twelve steps is better than cocaine and vodka, but the dependency on something is still taking over, leaving the person unable to live their lives. Along with this, James does not use God or any higher power to lead his sobriety. Tying into AA, the success in becoming sober is often related to surrendering yourself to a higher power. While many people are happy being ignorant to their problems, James faces his addiction head on, by himself. He takes control by telling his counselors, “I don’t believe in the twelve steps. I don’t believe in God or any form of Higher Power. I refuse to turn my life and my will over to anything or anyone….I’m not going to be dependent on anything but myself” (363). His self reliance turns out to be his biggest asset, never needing to pray to someone for help but instead having confidence that he is in charge of his actions. They last and most important thing James does not do is give in to the thought that addiction is a genetics problem. Although some doctors and patients are convinced their addiction cannot all be pinned on them, James does not blame anyone but himself for his problems. James becomes very angry over this idea because he knows anyone with an addition has made their own choice to do drugs and should take responsibility for it. He spends a great deal of time thinking of people with incurable sicknesses such as Alzheimer’s, who cannot help the degeneration of their minds, and knows that blaming addiction on genetics is just an excuse for people who cannot accept the poor choices they have made. As James explains to his parents after hearing of his grandfathers alcohol problem, “I think it's bulls***. People don't want to accept the responsibility for their own weakness so they place the blame on something that they're not responsible for, like a disease or genetics. As far as...
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