A Million Little Pieces — James Frey
In a recent Medical Humanities tutorial, a final year medical student asked how he, an educated young man growing up in an advantaged family in Hong Kong, could possibly understand the life of a drug addict? It’s an important question and one that is very relevant for many of us. I grew up in an affluent village in Southern England and was also quite unprepared for urban, inner city practice.
During the 10 years that I worked as both a junior doctor and a Family Medicine doctor in London, I saw many patients who had their lives devastated by addiction. As a group, users were often difficult to work with, demanding, dishonest and sometimes dangerous, but also heartbreakingly damaged. They left a trail of destruction in their wake, hurting those most close to them and sinking themselves deeper into their shame.
I see the damage and pain of hard years. I see the emptiness and desperation of existence without hope. I see a young life that has been too long. — James Frey
Whilst we may never know how it feels to be an addict, ‘A Million Little Pieces’ by James Frey depicts the utter devastation wrought by drugs and alcohol. It is the semi-autobiographical/semi-fictional account of how the author, an educated young man, navigated rehab and the struggle to break free from dependency. The harrowing account certainly resonated with my experiences of working with such patients, especially the six months I spent as an SHO on an inpatient alcohol detox unit. Perhaps, it’s the closest many of us will get to having an insight into the lives of those who live within the dark shadows of addiction.
Dr Nicolette Ray. firstname.lastname@example.org