Seeking Freedom from Addiction
The Gift of Second Chances; When Shame Isn’t Enough: Seeking Freedom From Addiction, is a raw and honest story of Patricia Steele’s battle with addiction and recovery. Patty describes the heartbreaking, and what seems at times to be unsurmountable, consequences of her struggle with the disease of alcoholism. Her story discloses her personal journey of attraction to alcohol, recognition of her alcoholism, her attempts to become sober, and the defeat she repeatedly felt upon failing to achieve recovery.
This book was written to take the reader on a journey with the author to the depths of desperation as felt by a substance abuser. Aware that she was disappointing and frightening her family and loved ones with her drinking, Patty could not find the inner strength to remain sober. On a December night in 2007, after drinking, Patty drove drunk and caused an accident that ended a man’s life and sent her to prison for seven years. During those years, Patty was given the gift of a second chance from loved ones and friends both new and old.
Patty’s personal journey with addiction and prison is an eye-opener. This book will alter one’s perspective of addiction and divulge the truth of incarceration. From the day Patty entered prison, she knew she had to change simply to survive; prison was no place for a middle-aged, middle class, white woman who knew nothing of the streets. The tales Patty shares of the people she met in prison, and what she learned from them, are beyond anything she could have imagined. Both good and bad, these people were contributing factors to the survivor she became.
Few go untouched by addiction today. This book offers knowledge and answers for anyone trying to understand personal substance abuse or that of someone they love. Patty’s story tells of the power of love and compassion, God and forgiveness. This book is for everyone who holds a hope for a second chance.
Patricia Steele, author of The Gift of Second Chances: When Shame Isn't Enough: Seeking Freedom From Addiction, hit multiple "rock bottoms" before she was involved in a tragic accident. While driving under the influence of alcohol, she hit another vehicle, killing the driver and badly injuring the passenger of the other vehicle while injuring herself as well. This accident led to the eventual arrest, trial, conviction, and sentencing of Patricia to 7-15 years in prison.
The Gift of Second Chances: When Shame Isn't Enough: Seeking Freedom from Addiction is a memoir of Patricia's addiction to alcohol and her time in prison. She explores the winding path of an innocent girl growing up in a home where alcohol was always present to her own alcoholism. Seeing just how easily social drinking can transform into a life-altering addiction was so subtle and gradual that it was frightening. It was also terrifying watching a woman with a leg injury enter the menacing world of prison. Despite her injury and crime, she was put in Level Four security alongside murderers and violent criminals merely because of the number of years she was sentenced. She learned to accept the constant shame and judgment she received from guards along with the lack of concern from the medical staff.
In reading Patricia's memoir, my eyes were opened to two major things. First, it's astounding how difficult it is to break an addiction, but not for the reasons I'd originally thought. Patricia was so ashamed of her past actions for decades that she would drink more to numb the shame, leading to worse actions. The cycle seems infinite as loved ones harshly judge actions without kindness or understanding. Second, prison is an awful place, also for reasons I didn't consider. Prisoners are only given medical attention when absolutely necessary, so it was months before Patricia received the medicine she was getting regularly in the hospital and even in jail before she was moved to the prison. She was strip-searched frequently, and while prisons are places of strict rules and harsh punishments, they're also unpredictable. Prisoners were frequently moved, resulting in new cellmates, and chaos lurked around every corner. At one point Patricia was blamed for something she didn't do, and it was so bad that another inmate warned her that she was marked for death.
I was so drawn into Patricia's book that I almost felt like I was in prison myself. For nearly three hundred pages I smiled when Patricia found herself a good cellmate, feared for her when the chaos of prison inevitably struck, and felt proud of her when she worked to better herself. Patricia managed to not only spend years in AA meetings while in prison, she learned a great deal about the law and helped other prisoners prepare for their parole hearings. She was so good that everyone she mentored received their parole! Yet despite these wonderful things she did, she never hesitated to admit the bad things she'd done. She fully admitted her role in the death of an innocent driver, she openly discussed her divorces, the way she failed her children, and even admitted to her suicide attempts. By the end of the book, it was easy to understand why: Patricia learned that shame often leads to craving alcohol, and the only way to avoid shame is to be truthful and forthcoming with what she's done. With that said, it's incredibly noble to state these things to the whole world.
The Gift of Second Chances: When Shame Isn't Enough: Seeking Freedom From Addiction is an easy recommendation for anyone interested in seeing what prison is like and the challenges that an addict faces. It's also perfect for the friends and loved ones of addicts to get an inside look at what Patricia went through. Above all, I'd highly recommend it to anyone struggling with addiction. Not only does Patricia show just how far a person can sink, but she also shares the stories of countless other inmates. These stories aren't meant to be depressing or scary (although they often are!), they're meant to inspire readers, to show them that anyone can make something better of themselves. Patricia's biggest struggle with AA was learning to rely on other people even though she was so quick to help other inmates, and I'd imagine lots of people can relate to that. I loved that the book was largely positive and that Patricia has such a friendly writing voice. Reading her words was like listening to her tell her story to her kids. With only three minor grammatical errors in the entire book and nothing else negative to speak of, my rating of The Gift of Second Chances: When Shame Isn't Enough: Seeking Freedom From Addiction is 4 out of 4 stars. I'll never look at prison or addiction the same way again, and I couldn't be more proud of Patricia for overcoming her challenges.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
As a mother, daughter, sister, friend and grandmother, Patty Steele understands, first-hand, the hardship of addiction. Patty is dedicated to helping addicts and their loved ones find healing and new beginnings.
Patty lives in Interlochen, Michigan, with her daughter and granddaughter. She holds a Bachelor of Science with a Minor in Addiction Studies from Western University in Kalamazoo, Michigan. She is a certified Paralegal and Victim’s Advocate through Adam’s University.
Following seven years in prison, Patty finished college and interned for three years at Addiction Treatment Services in Traverse City; she is a state-certified Drug and Alcohol Counselor. She remains active in the recovery community by attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, sponsoring, and sharing her experience and hope. Patty speaks publicly of her personal involvement with active addiction along with her road to recovery. In 2017, she was a presenter at the Traverse City Tedx. You can view her Ted Talk at: