Author recounts battle with drugs, alcohol

By A Contributor

For more than 23 years, Bill Clegg did not like himself. Clegg turned to crack and alcohol, putting his faith in their power to ease his pain, anger and solitude.

Reaching out to family and friends was hard. With crack and alcohol by his side, he could handle any problem, he could do anything no matter how impossible because nothing was impossible under the influence, and he could become anyone other than himself.

Clegg writes a very shocking, uncomfortable, vivid and seedy narrative of his obsession with drugs in “Ninety Days: A Memoir of Recovery.”

This narrative begins where his “Portrait of an Addict as a Young Man” concludes.

His memoir is dramatic in a positive sense. Clegg’s story is gutsy. He has no need to tread lightly on the readers’ emotions.

And with all the sad, remorseful and sickening passages in the book, it is satisfying to also find a whimsy-like attitude popping up in there every now and then. Sometimes his intense degrees of conceit are a welcome relief.

Getting sober in 90 days is every addict’s goal. It is to be a dream come true for Clegg who once had been a successful literary agent in New York and now is out of rehab, struggling daily to beat his addiction. There are many setbacks. There are meetings and more meetings to go to.

Many times instead of attending two or three meetings a day, Clegg would rather skip them, seriously believing like so many other addicts that the meetings serve no purpose.

What once felt like being at home in New York seems foreign to him. At first he has trouble making friends. He’s lonely and actually gets lost on the streets of the complex city. When his cravings and addictions get so bad, he sees only one way out: death.

It’s a frantic, frightening and heart-wrenching rollercoaster ride as Clegg comes so close to that goal of 90 days sober, only to have to begin all over again after going on binges.

When the craving hits, it strikes full force like a torpedo blasting a submarine to pieces. He loses self-respect, wastes money on drugs and secretly sneaks off to some other addict’s apartment to get high. The high is just temporary, however, and when Clegg comes down, he hallucinates and has suicidal thoughts.

Throughout his memoir, Clegg explains several disturbing issues that readers can identify with even though they might never be in his shoes.

He raises a good point when he writes that he and other addicts need to contact their sponsors if they feel an uncontrollable craving crashing down on them.

There were numerous occasions when Clegg tried desperately to get in touch with his sponsor, but whenever he dialed his sponsor’s phone number there wasn’t any answer. In other words, the sponsor could not be found or reached during such a painful and stressful time. This is something that Clegg writes about in his memoir.

How can he gain control, feel positive about himself and do what’s right if he can’t locate his own sponsor?

“Ninety Days” is harsh reality. Fortunately, for Clegg, he endures a world full of difficulties and hardships. He continues to hold on tightly to his position of literary agent.

What’s more, Clegg learns to open up to other people once he realizes that there are some things in life that just can’t be solved on his own. It is through the compassion of others that Clegg relies on, which, in turn, helps him see and feel the love around him.

Carol Wright is a freelance writer. She resides in Winfield.

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