Struggling with addictions: BOOK REVIEW

Is it possible for an addict to hit bottom but rise up again and take control of life? Are treatment programs enough to help addict along their way of recovery? We review a book that may be able to help answer these questions (and help you relate to a great story) here.

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Addicts CAN hit rock bottom and rise up again. How do we know? Through their numerous accounts and storytelling.  Here, we review an addict’s story, and refer you to a new book for inspiration and a fun tale.  Because, if anything, relating to another addict can help anyone struggling with addiction.

Struggling with addiction – Can you really run your life around?

“”As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a gangster.…””

The famous quote from the movie “Goodfellas” actually pretty much sums up the main plot of a book that recently came across our desks, “”Almost a Wiseguy”” by Bob Puglisi. The book tells the story of Vince Ciacci, an Italian guy growing up in New York, whose dream was to become the mafia’s made man. Speaking the mafia language, a made man is a guy who has earned the trust and respect of the mafia, and become a fully initiated member with all honors. For our main character, the path to reaching this goal was through crime, drugs, alcohol, and doing things he’’s not proud of: doing harm to himself and the people around him.

The author, Bob Puglisi, is known for writing screenplays and it’s easy for the reader to a kind of get impression that you are watching a movie while reading the book. But, this is not Mario Puzo, and this book is not The Godfather… but it is a true story, and the author, with his easy narrative, paints a good picture drawing the chapters of Vince’s life.

So, what does the path from addiction to recovery really look like?

Becoming an addict: When and Why?

Of course, the reasons why would someone start drinking, using drugs or engage in any kind of addictive behaviour are different for different people. But the reasons that are driving this story are the main character’s personal insecurities:

  • low self esteem, developed in early age
  • lack of love and acceptance from the parents
  • constant desire to prove something
  • feeling of inadequacy

We think that many people can relate to these reasons which compel addiction. The feeling of low self–esteem is recognized frequently in teenagers, and the ability to overcome it in the best possible way is part of growing up. Unfortunately, a lot of people lack the proper guidance or a real set of values and can suffocate their feelings with drugs and alcohol in order to feel tough and strong. The rage and attitude that are normal in teenagers can lash out in the form of crime and violence, instead of sports, or art. That’s exactly what happened to Vince.

Prison life: Helper or enabler?

Crime is close friend to an addict of any kind and on the path of “building his mafia career”, our hero ends up serving a sentence. Ideally, prison is an institution where -while taking the punishment in hard living conditions – one has a chance to revise his/hers own life and the mistakes that resulted with doing time. But on the other hand, prison is a place where you can easily find “colleagues” in your niche that will actually enable the bad behaviour that took you there.

So, the question that may arise is:– Is jail the right solution as a punishment for addicts or addiction induced crimes?

The main character in the story had a chance to straighten up by serving as help in the kitchen and doing a good job at that, guided by his willingness to be a better person and his stubbornness to do a good job even if that means cleaning pans. But his prison connections after he did his time and his insecurities brought him right back into digging his own hole. Hungry for the “high life”, he started doing drugs again, became highly addicted to heroin, as well as to alcohol and women.

Sobering up: Are treatment programmes enough?


No one can ever guarantee that any program or medicine will necessarily “cure” addiction. In fact, as a psychological illness, addiction is something that it’s in your head. YOU are the core of the program, the main force, the source of all the help you need. Addiction recovery tip #1: The first step towards treatment comes from YOU.

The take home lessons

If we can take home few lessons from this book, supporting the previous statement, those would be:

  1. Find a motivation that comes from your heart. What would make you a better person?
  2. Find a strong, genuine support, lean on your program sponsor, even though you’ll feel hate for this person during the hard periods.
  3. Make yourself useful, it helps toward building your self esteem.
  4. Keep your goal in mind, while sharing your experiences with people in your groups. You’’ll see how powerful a little support from someone in the same situation can be.
  5. You are given a second chance? TAKE IT!

All of the above are lessons taken from Vince’s redemption song. A recovering alcoholic, recovering drug addict, recovering “mobster wannabe,” he found the strength to feel better about himself mostly because of the love for his daughter. For her, he reshaped his set of values, and he made it thanks to a little help from his friends.

Why we recommend this book

Read this book. It’’s an easy, well written story that will not take you a lot of time. If you’’re an addict in recovery  it’’ll give you hope. If you have a friend or family member that needs help, it’ll motivate you to help them. It is not a guidebook, it is just a story, and if anything, it will be a fun read.

Do you have an experience to share or any advice for people that want to change their lives? Feel free to discuss it below in the comments section, we are looking forward to your opinion. And we will try to respond to all legitimate queries or shares.

About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.
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