BROKEN – A Book Review
Mr. Moyers takes us on his journey beginning with his early years as a happy child in Wilmer, Texas, the incident that he calls the “death of faith”, and his first serious confrontation with the law and his parents as a result of drinking. Thus begins his life as an alcoholic and drug addict. This book is not a drunk/drug-a-log. If it were, we probably would be given more specific incidences or more detailed accounts of his experiences which might satisfy some readers. But for some of us who suffer from the same illness as Mr. Moyers, the information he gives us is sufficient enough to feel his pain.
The ups and downs of recovery and relapse are frustrating but real. When he talks about his attitudes and behavior toward the rehab institution, staff and fellow addicts, it is clear why his recovery is long in coming. He is arrogant, does not follow professional advice, believes he is better than anyone else and almost seems rather delusional about the fact that he’s really okay. So when he decides to go back into the real world you hope he can do it. You root for him to do it. And just when you think he has finally and totally embraced sobriety, he falls again.
Throughout the book, Mr. Moyers give us examples of letters his father wrote him in good times and in bad. He loves his father dearly but we would believe that it is in fact his father that is his biggest problem. He mentions frequently his father’s accomplishments and his desire to emulate him in every way. Obviously, that doesn’t happen. I mention these letters because although they were written and sent out of love, it seems such an impersonal way to communicate especially when his father was instrumental in searching for him and making sure he was safe in rehab.
There are two very important features of BROKEN that make it different than the usual memoirs of an addict. When Mr. Moyers was sober, gainfully employed and getting his life together he was diagnosed with cancer. He writes of his fear but also the strength Alcoholics Anonymous and his family provided him. He is cancer free today but this disease made him think about his alcohol and drug addiction. He is candid with his questions about why addicts are not considered sick people in the same way a cancer patient or diabetic is considered. Why in this day and age is addiction so hidden and embarrassing for so many families? Why isn’t treatment available to those in need? When will those with addictions not be labeled and not be shamed? When will the public understand addiction is not about self control?
Mr. Moyers answers to those questions is the second important point he makes and this might be controversial for many in Alcoholics Anonymous or any Twelve Step group. This is the anonymity factor as well as using AA for profit (i.e. this book). He believes that those addicted and who are in recovery need to pave the way by not being so anonymous. Who understands the disease more than the recovering alcoholic or drug addict? If the addict cannot come forward, how can legislation or insurance companies know or understand the seriousness of this disease? So this is something Mr. Moyers proposes to anyone who might dare to admit his addiction so that others might be helped. He leaves us with much to think about.
Without a doubt I would highly recommend this book to anyone addicted, in recovery or has a loved one with the insidious disease of alcoholism or drug addiction. If you are addicted or in recovery, I believe you will understand and feel every word in this book. Recovering addicts will not judge Mr. Moyers for his entitled life because it is the similarities not the differences that we have come to understand. Is this book much different than many of the other tales of addiction and recovery out there today? Probably not. But his passion about helping others to recover from this disease and making the general public aware that alcoholism and drug addiction are diseases and must be treated as such are honorable. Whether or not each one of us is up to that task is an individual decision. I, for one, am left with something to think about.
William Cope Moyers is vice-president for external affairs at Hazelden Foundation in Minnesota. Katherine Ketcham has co-authored twelve books on the subject of drugs, addiction, and recovery.
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