On Monday I saw James Frey’s Facebook status: sober for nineteen years. I have followed James Frey’s life and work with great interest ever since reading “A Million Little Pieces” years ago. Addiction is a topic that has run in my family, and I have always been drawn to addicts and their stories, especially those of successful rehabilition. I have worked as an Addiction Counselor as a volunteer for several years. I have several friends who have kicked drugs and alcohol and I have always been amazed by their strength and willpower.
James Frey has been sober for something like six thousand nine hundred and forty two days (not one hundred percent sure of the leap years within his nineteen years of sobriety so forgive me if my calculations are inexact). James found himself on an airplane nineteen years ago, flying to Hazelden in Minnesota. He was badly injured – a hole in his face, broken and missing teeth. He was a garbage can addict, someone who would ingest basically anything to get high. This included things like gasoline. He got sober at inpatient during his one stay at Hazelden and never went back. He never went to a twelve step meeting. He never relapsed. His story in unique, I think, as not many people can remain vigilant in their recovery without the help of others, but, against all odds, he has.
I know that James has endured some hardships since he stopped drinking and using drugs. Some of these were quite personal and others quite public, like the whole Oprah fiasco. I am sure that he was tempted to use at some of these times, if not all of them, but the amazing thing is that he didn’t. Maybe the fact that he was told that he would die if he put another mind altering substance into his body was the catalyst. I don’t know. What I do know though is that he became a huge success by sharing his story with others, and perhaps his fame and honestly have also helped to keep him clean.
Today James has a beautiful wife and children. He has professional success doing something that I think he loves. He has his life. He is an inspiration to everyone who has ever known someone struggling with addiction, and anyone who struggles personally.
Kudos to James Frey who has done it one day at a time for almost seven thousand days.