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I Want My Life Back Paperback – March 15, 2004

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Hamilton, a 39-year-old South African, tells a sadly common tale of woe as a reformed drug addict and alcoholic, straightforwardly detailing how he descended into a dismal, purposeless life after surviving a broken home with a drunken father, and squandered his future as a promising tenor. Although Hamilton realizes early on that his addictions could derail his life, he sees little hope in shaking the dependence on drinking and drugging that, from his teens, quickly plunges him into a dead-end existence. Using his grim story as a departure point, Hamilton often lapses into long lectures on the evils of drugs and alcohol; he finds cigarettes can be a "gateway drug'' for those susceptible to addictive behavior. He doesn't render his brave journey from stupor to sobriety in a clear, linear manner, but rather in fits and starts, as he bounces from topic to topic, going from a brief admission of brain damage from his addictions to longer remembrances of his postrehab work with schools and companies, and the difficulty of fighting the urge to get high. While the recollections of his dysfunctional family and tainted friends hold an occasional charge of drama, Hamilton offers few new insights about the rigors of healing and rehabilitation, producing a predictable memoir that is, at times, boring. Hamilton addresses moral courage, determination and redemption in the face of temptation, physical decline and unwavering support from a community of peers. Despite the book's lack of originality and erratic narrative, the author's generous heart and willingness to help others make it inspirational and instructive.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From the Publisher

A powerful story powerfully told, I Want My Life Back is Leaving Las Vegas with a happy ending.

I Want My Life Back is not a pretty story—but it's beautifully told and absolutely compelling. The book's cover features a portrait of author Steve Hamilton. You'd guess his age to be somewhere in his late 60's. Guess again. He's 39, and he has seen several lifetimes of hurt and failure. Raised by an alcoholic father, Hamilton learned early how alcohol can dominate every dynamic in family life. Later, alcohol and drugs dominated every aspect of his own life.

This book is a moving and compelling portrait of the addicted life. Readers will learn how addiction comes to possess the mind, soul and body of its human prey. Readers will begin to understand why an addict like Hamilton can't quit the very thing that is destroying him. He leads readers to grapple with a mix of emotions: loathing, pity, sympathy, compassion, and ultimately, admiration. He has been clean and sober for more than a dozen years now, and he completely embraces the Twelve Step philosophy.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 392 pages
  • Publisher: Hazelden; 1 edition (January 13, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1592850839
  • ISBN-13: 978-1592850839
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 1.1 x 7.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #857,150 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Thor Oxnard on June 20, 2004
Format: Paperback
This confessional about Steve's on-going recovery from drug and alcohol abuse is raw and accurate in the same way as James Frey's debut novel "A Million Little Pieces" which won Amazon's Book of the Year title for 2003. However, I found "I Want My Life Back" to be more coherent and engaging. Surely, Hamilton's timeline jumps back and forth, but never in a confusing manner, and always to support and move the story forward. In a world full of authors purporting to know the horrors of drug abuse, Hamilton's voice rings true.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By jon doe on February 18, 2005
Format: Paperback
Steve's journey in recovery rings true to me. This is important because as an AA member myself anything short of heartfelt honesty is duly noted as BS.

The one criticism I had is the strange feeling of boasting present in this book. This, though, I found to be typical and in truth harmless in my experience. Whatever it takes to remember the past hell. Rembering it, we are humbled by our current good forture. Steve, conveys this awakening. It strengthened me for my own journey in sobriety.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By True Toni on February 23, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book was recommended by a recovering addict who said it changed his life. It was more then I expected. You don't have to be an alcoholic or drug addict to be moved by this man's journey.
As someone already stated, this book should be required reading for all middle and high school students. If it saves one child from going down the road of distruction it was worth reading.
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Despite what you may hear from some recovering addicts, no one ever "beats" a drug addiction. It's a life sentence. And there's nothing to be proud of just because we start acting like normal human beings again; we'll just be doing what we should have been doing all along. I, for one, don't want any pats on the back, because everyday I wake up, the work starts all over again. I'll forever be just one bad decision away from hell on earth.

That's the point Steve Hamilton makes in his memoir, "I Want My Life Back". His life of addiction in the streets of South Africa was no different from what we experience here in the United States: jails, institutions, and death. This story reads like one long drunkalogue, but he makes many good points along the way, for instance, that the addict basically has just two feelings: high and craving; and that it's not necessarily the drugs we like so much, it's the good feeling which quickly becomes a substitute for one thing all humans need: LOVE.

I Want My Life Back reveals the inner dialogue, the self-talk, the tug-of-war that goes on in the mind of the addict. Mr. Hamilton has also learned that the best way he can stay clean is by going to schools and giving talks to the kids, to let them know the truth about drug addiction.

The strengths of this book lie in the author's honesty and insightful introspection, and the weakness is in the fact that this is the same story told over and over again and will potentially bore those who have already experienced the hellish nightmare of addiction.

David Allen Reeves
Author of "Running Away From Me"
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This has to be one of the worst books I have EVER had the misfortune to read. The plot is confusing and deranged, there is constant repetition in the story line and I've read better material on loo paper.
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