Study Guide

A Million Little Pieces Drugs and Alcohol

By James Frey

Drugs and Alcohol

What type of substances do you normally use?

Alcohol.

Every day?

Yes. (1.2.66-1.2.69)

A nurse goes through a questionnaire with James, and we learn that he pretty much drinks from sun-up to sunset and uses every drug on the street (except Krokodil, although he'd probably try it). His drug use is insane, and it's not going to be easy to stop pumping his body full of that stuff.

I am crushed by images and sounds […] Dark shadows and bright lights […] The bugs crawl onto my skin and they start biting me and I try to kill them. (1.2.140-1.2.141)

No, James isn't suffering through the Johnny Depp flop <em>Dark Shadows</em>;<em> </em>he's having withdrawal dreams—pretty much on the second night of not being an addict. It's only going to get harder from here.

I started drinking at ten, doing drugs at twelve. (1.4.186)

James is 23, so he's been drinking and doing drugs for over ten years. Most kids are just addicted to candy and fast food at that age, but hey, those may be even harder addictions to break.

They are hard, weathered, worn-out and desperate. Intimidating and thuggish, addicted and insane. They are all different and they are all the same and as I sit there smoking my cigarette, they scare the living s*** out of me. (1.4.258)

James believes that addiction reduces everyone to the same level, but we're not sure if he's scared of these people because they <em>are </em>him or because he somehow thinks they're scarier than he is… even though they're all on the same level.

I feel good again, perfect, magnificent and invincible, like the power of every orgasm I've ever had, could ever have and will ever have has been concentrated into a single moment. (1.6.6)

Now we have a good idea why James does drugs, and keeps doing drugs, over and over again. He's trying to escape into an intense feeling that, once had, is hard for him to live without, even on a day-to-day basis.

The divisions among the men are not made by class, but by drug of choice. Drunks sit together, Cokeheads sit together, Crackheads sit together, Junkies sit together, Pillpoppers sit together. (1.8.105)

Well, that's one way to divide people up. Instead of prison, where people might group up together by race, people in rehab seem to group up together depending on whatever drug they're trying to get off of.

I sat and stared at her. I forgot that I was drunk, forgot that I was sick. (2.4.61)

James replaces addiction to alcohol and drugs with an addition to an unnamed girl. Just like drinking and drug use, the girl is pretty much an object to feed his need.

I have an empty bottle in one hand. I have an empty pipe in the other. I am standing on a Street Corner littered with trash. There are shoes hanging from the telephone wires. The ghosts of the rock are screaming. (3.1.1)

No, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson isn't haunting James Frey's nightmares; these are crack withdrawal dreams he's going through. We imagine it must be hard to kick the habit if you're still smoking in your dreams.

I'll give me life heart soul money future everything please give me more. I want need have to have more. Give me more and I'll give you everything. Give me more and I'll do whatever you want. Give me more. Give me more. Give me more. (3.1.4) 

James is either quoting Britney here, or he's writing about how strong his addiction is. He would give anything, even his life, for that next high. 

Any Idiot, especially an Addicted Idiot, knows that if you do drugs or drink when you're trying to stay sober, even if that drug or drink is not your chemical of choice, then you are probably going to get hooked on it. (3.4.447)

Could love apply here? Because it seems that James is replacing his chemical dependency on his dependency on Lilly. Of course, any Idiot should be able to see that. 

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