James Frey, Alcoholism, Jordan…

I have been reading “Million Little Pieces” by James Frey for sometime now. The journey of this young man in the rehabilitation center fighting his Alcohol and Drug addiction is heart wrenching. There are some points in the book where I couldn’t read because of the amount of hurt and pain the writer is describing. It made me wonder about the hell he and other addicts go through in which it is to me hard even to just read.

I have known before that alcohol addiction is a disease. When I heard it the first time, I didnt comprehend it. It doesn’t look like other diseases we are familiar with. We commonly distinguish a disease by some kind of a virus or bacteria that attack our bodies causing an upnormal effect. When I did understand it, my views about addict changed. I had been affected by how our society look at addicts. We percieve them as losers. Immoral people who deserve what they go through because of their lack of ethics. We percieve them as weak people who can’t hold themselves from fulfilling their addiction.

Science has proved otherwise. It clearly says that Alcoholism is a DISEASE. There is a strong indication that it is a genetic related disease. The exact gene causing alcoholism hasn’t been discovered yet. Alcoholism is a non curable disease. It can’t be cured. An alcoholic would always be an alcoholic even when he doesn’t drink.

People in Jordan would claim that we don’t have a problem here because Alcohol is forbidden in Islam where Jordan is a Muslim country. In reality, Alcoholism doesn’t discriminate. We all have equal chances because it is a gene related disease. In concept a person who never tried alcohol wouldn’t get addicted, which is true, but how many Muslim people have never tried it even for just a little sip? It is available everywhere, and even for religious people those who has the disease can get hooked to alcohol by just taking a small amount.

Some other religious people would say that those addicted deserve what they go through because they dis-obeyed God by taking that little sip in the first place. But looking at it from another perspective. How fair is it to be punished such a cruel punishment for making a single sin while there are many others around the world who can drink as much as they want of Alcohol and stop it when they want because they don’t have the disease?

In his book, James Frey talks about the rehabilitation center and program addicts have to go through in order to be able to control their disease. They can’t be cured, they can only learn how to control it. And it ISNT easy to successeed in that. According to his book, the Twleve-step Program has proven to be the only possible way to control your addiction. Unfortunatly he also says that the success rate is only around 15%. This means that around 85% of addicts are doomed.

That percentage, rehabilitation center and 12 program is in the US. I think that it is applied in other western countries as well. What concerns me is here in Jordan. What kind of facilities do we have to help Alcohol and Drug addicts control their addiction? If it is 15% success rate in the US, how much less could it be here in Jordan knowing that we are behind in many aspect regarding this issue.

I think that we have a rehabilitation in Abo Nser in Amman. It is called “Al Rasheed Hospital”. I have no idea how good it is, what facilities it provides and what is the success rate in helping addicts. If anyone has a link to a website that carries any further information please post it under comments.


  1. oh my i found this book last week someone forgot it at a rest stop so i picked it up. anywho can’t wait to start reading it.


  2. Observer, my good man, can you reduce the width of the page, it killed me while trying to read this really long article
    But that might only be me at almost 4am …
    would you please consider it?


  3. Marie, it is good. Read it 🙂

    Qwider, I didn’t really get what you want me to do? Width of the page? You mean that you get horizontal scrolling? How big is your screen? What resolution are you using?


  4. This floating article thingie + very widescreen means too much trouble to my eyes.. it makes it look VERY wide.
    It does look fine when I reduce the browser width to say 600px
    My screen wide enough to make it .. not very relaxing

    (just a suggestion habeebi you don’t have to do it. I thought I would let you know right on the spot or else I would forget)


  5. Man that book is fabricated!! Oprah kicked the writer’s ass in her show because he lied to people.

    But you’re right about addiction, and many Jordanians are alcoholics and many of them have problems with alcohol and they don’t admit it and they don’t recognize it.
    Also a lot oj people drive under the influence in Amman streets


  6. Well, she first hosted him on her show and was full of sympathy and it made the Oprah’s book club list, till she found out that he lied in th ebook, and he lied on TV. But if his book got people to think of the sufferings humans go through then I guess the lie is justified, ofcourse the money he made didn’t hurt him!


  7. Qwaider, I dont think that I got you well, but I will keep this in mind if any other person complained about it. Thanks for telling me.

    Hareega, yes I remember the writer admitting that he lied in the book but I don’t think it matters. He give a very real picture of alcoholic people fighting to get sober. It does give a good insight for other people to leanr what it means to be an alcoholic.

    You are right about Jordan, there are many who die by alcohol because they don’t know how to handle it, dont want to acknowledge their problem, and dont know where to turn to for help. This is sad. I wish the goverment or some of those NGO’s working in Jordan would do something about it. Like somekind of an ad campaign to raise awarnaess, or even funding a center specialized to help those people.


  8. I disagree with some points you make. I don’t want to go deeply in what it means to have a “disease”, but I think stating that alcoholism is a disease is just a bad shot to clear responsibility of people for their actions. Well, maybe some people have a higher tendency to become addicted on alcohol, but that doesn’t make them “sick”.

    I really recommend you watch the south park episode “Bloody Mary”, which discusses this issue, and ridicules the concept of calling alcoholism a disease.

    In case you don’t watch it, I’ll put some good quotes and describe the events a little bit:

    Scene A (Randy attending a self-help program):
    Randy: “My name is Randy and I just like beer”
    X: “You have to admit you are an alcoholic”
    Randy: “I don’t know if I am really alcoholic. I was stupid one night, drank too much and drove a car! That was dumb and I am not gonna do it again.”
    Speaker: “You cannot cut down on your drinking randy, you need to know something: You have a disease!”
    Randy: “A disease?!”
    Speaker: “Thats right! Alcoholism is a disease! You are sick Randy, you are very very sick! And just like most diseases, you cannot cure it yourself! And its DEADLY!!”
    Randy: “Oh my GOD!!”

    Scene 2 (At home, Randy has tons of beer cans next to him, drinking one can after another):
    Stan: “Dad! What the hell are you doing?! Its the middle of the day, I thought you weren’t gonna drink much anymore!”
    Randy: “No Stan, you don’t understand! I have a disease, that is very sick! I just thought I can quit drinking on my own, but its an illness son. I have to admit that I am powerless to this terrible disease!”
    Stan: “Dad! You have to stop drinking now!”
    Randy: “I CANNOT! I am SICK!”

    Scene C (All beer cans are used up, so Randy calls Stan):
    Randy: “Get me another beer son!”
    Stan: “No you don’t need another beer!”
    Randy: “I know that, but its just this diseases… its eating me up!”
    Stan: “Dad: You just need not to drink so much! Its that simple!”
    Randy: “I wish it was that simple son. I am afraid the only thing that will cure me is a miracle.”

    Scene D (Stan goes to the self-help program, to talk to the people administering it):
    Stan: “Excuse me, who is in charge here?”
    Speaker: “None of us is in charge, we are all powerless!”
    Stan: “Look, my Dad was here yesterday, and you kinda messed him up by telling him he has a disease!”
    X: “Alcoholism is a disease!”
    Stan: “No, its not!”
    X: “It is a disease, because its a physical dependency! That makes it a disease!”
    Stan: “NO! Cancer is a disease, my Dad needs to drink less!”
    Speaker: “He cannot quit by himself! None of us could! He needs higher intervention!”
    Stan: “NO, he just needs discipline. But thanks to you people, now Dad thinks that he has a disease that he cannot cure himself!”

    Scene F (Blood come out a statue of the Virgin Mary, and it is believed to be a miracle with healing powers. Randy visits this statues and is “cured” from his disease, and he stopped drinking.)

    Scene G (Five days later, the Pope dismissed the miracle as being False):
    Randy: “That means I am not cured! I still have the disease!”

    Scene H (Randy buying loads of alcohol):
    Stan: “Dad… Dad… Stop!”
    Randy: “I am sorry son, I am off the wagon!”
    Stan: “You haven’t drink since you’ve seen the statue!”
    Randy: “But the statue wasn’t a miracle!!”
    Stan: “Yeah, the statue wasn’t a miracle, so that means you did it! That means you haven’t drink for five days all on your own!”
    Randy: “Thats right son! Maybe I can force myself not to drink again!”
    Stan: “NO!! Dad, you like to drink.. So drink once in a while! Have Two! If you devote your life to completely avoid something you like, then that thing still controls your life and you’ve never learned any discipline at all!!”
    Randy: “But maybe I am the kind of person who needs to have it all or nothing!”
    Stan: “No, all or nothing is easy! But learning to drink a little bit, responsibly, thats a discipline. Discipline comes from within!


  9. Devil’s mind, thx for posting the conversation you mentioned in the episodes of South Park.

    I strongly disagree with this. Infact I feel it is an insult to Alcoholics.

    Being a disease doesn’t mean that someone shouldn’t bear responsibility of his body. People are still accountable to their well being. It won’t be as easy as a normal person who doesn’t have the disease but a person who does have it should fight his urges in order to protect his life and the lives of others around him.

    The line that the man in the episode is drinking because he knew it is a disease is just stupid. Maybe it is written in a sarcastic way to show people that this isn’t the way things go.

    And at the end, discipline isn’t enough. Alcoholics need support. They need help to stay sober. Their disease isn’t curable but it can be controlled.

    They don’t need our bad judgement that they have a weak will to control themselves, they need our support to help them do so.


  10. As I said before, I admit that some people might have a higher tendency to become addicted to alcohol, but that doesn’t doesn’t mean we are “powerless” against it!

    Additionally, have you ever read the 12-step program devised by James Frey?! Its TOTAL BULLSHIT!! You don’t need religion to quit alcohol! The twelve-step program that James Frey talks about IS the insult to all alcoholics!

    What you need most of all is the power of will. Drug addicts have been able to get over their addiction, why can’t alcoholics do so as well?!

    I guess its better you watch the whole episode because the quotes miss a lot of ideas, and a lot of explanations.

    The objection isn’t on the scientific meaning of calling alcoholism a disease. Some people have misused this finding and come up with unenlightened conclusions. One of those people is James Frey… He probably is just a manipulator who used that to draw sympathy for himself, write a book, and later on come with the Alcoholics Anonymous organization.

    They don’t need our bad judgement that they have a weak will to control themselves, they need our support to help them do so.” – Sure, but they definitely don’t need God to quit, and besides their “disease” doesn’t clear their responsibility for their actions – Its not like they are mentality disabled or something!


  11. But James Frey in his book did exactly what you are saying, I mean while telling his story, he didn’t believe that he should beleive in God in order to control himself. The 12 step program does state that believing in God can help, as of a king of hope and support, but I think the Alcoholics can control their disease without it. It is what James did in his book. Have you read it?

    I think that what differ Alcohol of other drugs is that Alcohol does change the chemical status of the brain. It isn’t just a matter of strong well. Some Alcoholics die in their way to recovery. It is a very serious physical dependency. It may requires more than a strong well.


  12. I have not read his book, but I read the 12-step program. And NO, the 12-step program states that you HAVE TO believe in a higher power like God.

    Check wikipedia, or any other source you wish.

    Right at step 2, it says:
    Step 2- Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
    Step 3- Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
    Step 7- Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.

    What does that mean?! Maybe you can show me some quotes from the book. But if he really thinks alcoholics can do it themselves, why does the twelve-step program show otherwise?!


  13. devil’s mind, in the book James is submitted in a rehabilitation center which applies the 12-step program to help alcoholics control their disease.

    James describes how they tell him that the 12-step program is the only way for helping alcoholics. He admits that the program requires a believe in God or any super natural power, but he, himself, refuses to believe. He doesn’t believe in God. In various contests of his book he states that clearly.

    He is ourtagrous, he doesn’t follow all their rules, but he made.

    I am not sure how much it is right or wrong whether the 12-step program has been proved to be the only way for Alcoholics or not, but from the book you can tell that you dont have to follow exactly all the steps as they are.


  14. You said, in the post: “According to his book, the Twleve-step Program has proven to be the only possible way to control your addiction.”

    Based on that, I formed my objections. I think the 12-step program is bullshit. I don’t know about James Frey, I only heard about him from you.

    My objection was that James Frey advocated bullshit in his book. But you are telling me now he was against the 12-step program?! You are confusing me!


  15. :), let me clear things out.

    In the book, James is describing his journey in the rehabilitation center. He describes the lectures they take and the information he gets. People in charge of the rehabilitation center say that the 12-step program is the only way to help Alcoholics. It is written in way that it sounded a fact. I don’t doubt it unless I read some other source that states otherwise.

    Now James had gone through the program, he didnt believe in God and made it clear. There was steps where God has been mentioned, but it didn’t stop him from completing it.

    Now I wonder why do you think the 12-step program is a bullshit? Is it mainly because it states the need of believing in God? or do you have other objections on it?


  16. In step 1, an alcoholic has to state that he is powerless to alcohol. This is the first mistake. This is simply a brainwashing technique to make people feel that they need the “Twelve-step program”. Why would a program be designed to brainwash people?!

    The second step is to admit that they need a “higher power” to heal them. Same as above, they use the religion as a brainwashing technique, to make people feel dependent, instead of independent.

    Now, a person considering a self-help program like the “twelve-step program” should be given professional help, not brainwashed with some cultist ideas. Those people are very manipulative, and exploiting alcoholism and alcoholics to promote questionable ideologies.

    Well, since James Frey has been able to recover without the need of “God”, doesn’t this prove that there is in fact another way beside the “twelve-step program”?!

    Do I need more reasons to call it bullshit?!


  17. In short, a good program should enlighten the participant that they are can control their condition. That it is within their capacity to heal, and that they are there to give them extra help.

    A good program should empower the participant to face their condition. NOT disarm them, leave them weak and vulnerable, then offering them help through a “higher power”!! Thats monopoly at its hype!!


  18. Devil’s mind, from what I read of what James had been subjected to of the 12 step program, I can tell that the program does empower alcoholics to gain control over their disease. It came to my perception that the believe in a higher power is not the essence of the program at it sounds when you read the 12-steps.

    But yes, knowing that someone is powerless to Alcohol is good, because people should realize what they are dealing with. They need strong well and strong support around them to be able to control their disease.

    As for the higher power, have you read the description of what point 2 talks about? They don’t have to believe in a Christian God, or a Muslim God, or any one God, they can create their own higher power which can help them. I personally don’t care whether it is a delusional belief or not if it helps people stay in control, and I guess believing does help


  19. Well his story may be fabricated, but mine isn’t. I am a child of addicts and I can tell you first hand about the effects of addiction on a child.


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