Review: Portrait of an Addict as a Young Man
When I think of drug addicts, I don’t think of people like Bill Clegg. He was a literary agent with a thriving business, a loving partner, and $70,000 in the bank when his addiction took over. Even though he seemed to have everything going for him, he was driven to smoke crack to the point where it consumed his life. He left his home and would stay in hotels, order thousands of dollars worth of crack, and party with anyone he came into contact with. Of course, he eventually hit rock bottom and was lucky enough to have friends who were willing to help him out of the dark hole he was in.
Portrait of an Addict as a Young Man, by Bill Clegg, is the harrowing story of his addiction to crack. Told in the present tense with flashbacks to his youth and his first experience with the drug, Clegg conveys the frenzied pace, overpowering desire, and rising paranoia associated with drug addiction.
This book gives readers an idea of what it’s like in the mind of a drug addict. The addict’s mind and this story race at a frenetic, dizzying pace. At times it seems like too much to take, yet I was fully absorbed, trying to understand why anyone would behave in such a manner. I found it fascinating and horrifying all at the same time.
I am nowhere and belong nowhere. I can now see how it all happens – the gradual slide down, the arrival at each new unthinkable place – the crack den, the rehab, the jail, the street, the homeless shelter, a quick shock and then a new reality that one adjusts to. Am I now in the purgatory between citizen and nobody, between a fine young man and a bum?
I do have to admit that I wondered how he could remember this harrowing time in his life in such detail, but came to realize that the details aren’t what’s important – it’s the feeling caused by the addiction that is, and I think Clegg nails that. If you, or someone you know, struggles with addiction, Portrait of an Addict as a Young Man is a must read.