A Father’s Journey Through His Son’s Addiction
What had happened to my beautiful boy? To our family? What did I do wrong? Those are the wrenching questions that haunted every moment of David Sheff’s journey through his son Nic’s addiction to drugs and tentative steps toward recovery.
Before Nic Sheff became addicted to crystal meth, he was a charming boy, joyous and funny, a varsity athlete and honor student adored by his two younger siblings. After meth, he was a trembling wraith who lied, stole, and lived on the streets.
David Sheff traces the first subtle warning signs: the denial, the 3 A.M. phone calls (is it Nic? the police? the hospital?), the rehabs. His preoccupation with Nic became an addiction in itself, and the obsessive worry and stress took a tremendous toll. But as a journalist, he instinctively researched every avenue of treatment that might save his son and refused to give up on Nic.
Beautiful Boy is a fiercely candid memoir that brings immediacy to the emotional rollercoaster of loving a child who seems beyond help.
reviews and praise…
“This is a brilliant, harrowing, heart-breaking, fascinating book, full of beautiful moments and hard-fought wisdom. This book is going to save a lot of lives, and help heal a lot of hearts. I absolutely could not put it down: I read it straight through in two nights.”
– Ann Lamott, author of Grace (Eventually), Bird by Bird, and Operating Instructions
“Sheff’s story is honest, reflective and deeply moving. Sadly, it is a story all too relevant for our troubled times. When one of us tells the truth, he makes it easier for all of us to open our hearts to our own pain and to that of others. That’s ultimately what Beautiful Boy is about: truth and healing.”
– Mary Pipher, Author of Writing to Change the World and Reviving Ophelia
“Those of us who love an addict – or are addicts ourselves – will find BEAUTIFUL BOY a revelation. David Sheff knows all too well what must be endured with faith, and his extraordinary book describes it better than anything else I’ve read. While painfully candid, BEAUTIFUL BOY is equally optimistic and powerful.”
– Martin Sheen, actor
“Beautiful Boy is so beautifully written that it will come as a welcome balm to millions of parents and loved ones who thought they were making this journey alone.”
– Armistead Maupin, author of Michael Tolliver Lives and The Night Listener
“An extraordinary story of pain, perseverance and hope.”
– William C. Moyers, Author of Broken
“Here are the mysteries of love and grief, fear and faith, power and surrender. Here is a perilous, redemptive read: a text for any father, any parent, any one who has ever wrestled with holding on and letting go.”
– Thomas Lynch, author of The Undertaking and Bodies in Motion and at Rest
“This story of parental love is a masterpiece of description and feeling. Sheff portrays addiction and its confusion in a way which is immediate, informative and heartbreaking. His quest for healing is a riveting suspense story which will enlighten and compel anyone who has ever dealt with addiction, and anyone who has ever raised a child.”
– Susan Cheever, author of Note Found in a Bottle and My Name Is Bill
“My generation experimented with drugs and, now that we are parents, we’re caught off guard. We never contemplated having to face what David Sheff has faced. He writes with candor, courage, and grace his family’s harrowing – and sadly not atypical – story. Beautiful Boy is an important book. It is moving, timely, and sobering. It’s also startlingly beautiful.”
– Sir Richard Branson, chairman, Virgin Group
websites for more information and resources, including 12-step meetings in your area…
Updates to this resource guide are coming soon!
Alanon | www.al-anon.org
Alateen | www.al-anon.alateen.org
Nar-Anon | nar-anon.org
Alcoholics Anonymous | alcoholics-anonymous.org
Narcotics Anonymous | na.org
Partnership for a Drugfree America | drugfree.org
Drugfree.org – meth | drugfree.org
KCI – about meth , stories | kci.org
UCLA Integrated Substance Abuse Programs | uclaisap.org
Hazelden | hazelden.org
National Association for Children of Alcoholics (NACoA) | ncadi.samhsa.gov/nacoa
American Society of Addiction Medicine | asam.org
National Institute on Drug Abuse | nida.nih.gov
National Institute on Drug Abuse information and resources related to methamphetamine | nida.nih.gov
National Institute on Drug Abuse for teens | teens.drugabuse.gov
Substance Abuse Treatment Facility Locator
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
dasis3.samhsa.gov | 1-800-662-HELP
resources for further reading and support
While by no means an exhaustive list, the following books, articles, and websites may be useful resources for further reading and support…
Al-Anon and Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, The Al-Anon Family Groups – Classic Edition, Virginia Beach, VA: Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc, 2000.
Al-Anon and Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Alateen—Hope for Children of Alcoholics, Virginia Beach, VA: Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc, 1973.
Al-Anon and Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Courage to Change: One Day at a Time in Al-Anon II, Virginia Beach, VA: Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc, 1968, 1972, 1973.
Al-Anon and Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, One Day at a Time in Al-Anon, Virginia Beach, VA: Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc., 1968, 1972, 1973.
Al-Anon and Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Paths to Recovery—Al-Anon’s Steps, Traditions, and Concepts , Virginia Beach, VA: Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc, 1997.
Black, Claudia, Phd. Straight Talk from Claudia Black: What Recovering Parents Should Tell Their Kids About Drugs and Alcohol. City Center, MN: Hazelden Publishing, 2003.
Brown, Stephanie, PhD.; Lewis, Virginia M., PhD, with Liotta, Andrew, The Family Recovery Guide: A map for healthy growth, Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications, 2000.
Conyers, Beverly, Addict In The Family: Stories of Loss, Hope, and Recovery, Center City, MN: Hazelden Publishing and Educational Services, 2003.
Didion, Joan, The Year of Magical Thinking, New York: Knopf, 2005.
Johnson, Vernon, Intervention : How to Help Someone Who Doesn’t Want To Be Helped, Center City, MN: Hazelden Publishing, 1986.
Kellermann, Joseph L., A Guide for the Family of The Alcoholic, Center City, MN: Hazelden Publishing and Educational Services, 1996.
Ketcham, Katherine, and Asbury, William F., with Schulstad, Mel, and Ciaramicoli, Arthur P., Beyond the Influence: Understanding and Defeating Alcoholism, New York: Bantam Books, 2000.
Lynch, Thomas, “The Way We Are,” from Bodies in Motion and at Rest: On Metaphor and Mortality, New York: W.W. Norton and Co., 2001.
Milan, James Robert, and Ketcham, Katherine, Under the Influence: A Guide to the Myths and Realities of Alcoholism, New York: Bantam Books, 1983.
Mnookin, Seth, “Harvard and Heroin,” Salon.com, Aug 27, 1999.
Mnookin, Seth, “The End of My World As I Knew It,” Slate.com, Dec 31, 2004.
Mnookin, Wendy, “My Son the Heroin Addict,” Salon.com, Aug 27, 1999.
Orenstein, Peggy, “Staying Clean,” New York Times Magazine, February 10, 2002.
Recovery of Chemical Dependent Families (booklet), Center City, MN: Hazelden / Johnson Institute, 1987.
Shannonhouse, Rebecca, Under the Influence: The Literature of Addiction. New York: Modern Library, 2003.
Schwebel, Robert, Saying No Is Not Enough: Helping Your Kids Make Wise Decisions about Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drugs, New York : Newmarket Press, 1989.
Sheff, Nic, Tweak, New York: Ginee Seo Books/Anatheum: 2007.
Singer, Mark, “The Misfit: How David Milch Got from NYPD Blue to Deadwood by Way of an Epistle of St. Paul,” The New Yorker, Feb 14 and 25, 2005.
Wallerstein, Judith S., Blakeslee, Sandra, What About the Kids: Raising Your Children Before, During, and After Divorce, New York: Hyperion, 2003.
Wallerstein, Judith S., Lewis, Julia M., Blakeslee, Sandra, The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce: The 25 Year Landmark Study, New York: Hyperion, 2000.