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“Clean is the best book on drug abuse and addiction to appear in years”

This article by Glenn C. Altschuler and Patrick M. Burns was published at

Free Will Hunting

Substance abuse and addiction have reached epidemic proportions in the United States. Every day, on average, about 8,120 individuals age 12 and over try drugs for the first time and 12,800 try alcohol. About 60 million people binge drink. Mortality rates from abuse of prescription pills are skyrocketing. All-in-all, in addition to destroying families, devastating inner cities, and causing crime and car accidents, substance abuse is responsible for more deaths than any other “non-natural” cause.

In Clean: Overcoming Addiction and Ending America’s Greatest Tragedy, David Sheff, the author of Beautiful Boy, a moving account of the addiction and treatment of his son, Nic, draws on research in psychology, neuroscience and medicine to present a new approach to dealing with what may well be our greatest social problem. Sheff insists that addiction is an incurable but treatable disease, not a moral failing. Since choice “has nothing to do with the disease,” he emphasizes, it is counter-productive to exhort young people to “Just say no” or dismiss addicts as dissolute or undisciplined. Treatment must be based on evidence, not urban legends, guilt or wishful thinking.

Providing a wealth of information and practical advice, Clean is the best book on drug abuse and addiction to appear in years. Continue Reading →

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The 2009 TIME 100: David Sheff

Kurt Rogers / San Francisco Chronicle / Corbis

This article, written by Dr. Nora Volkow, originally appeared at

David Sheff wrote a beautiful book called, appropriately enough, Beautiful Boy — A Father’s Journey Through His Son’s Meth Addiction, one of the most compelling portrayals I’ve ever read of a parent’s loss of a child to drugs. In this journey, Sheff, 53, faces the overdose of his son Nic and his inability to protect him, the relapses that inevitably occur and the family’s struggle to cope with it all.

Many people still call addiction a moral failing. But 20 years of research tells us that it’s a disease that results in part from the damage that abused drugs do to the brain circuits required for self-control. Unfortunately that damage is long-lasting, meaning that the person remains vulnerable to relapse even after years of successful rehabilitation. Continue Reading →

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Authors Gin Phillips and David Sheff Win the 2008 Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Awards

This article originally appeared at

NEW YORK, NY – March 4, 2009 – Barnes & Noble Inc. (NYSE: BKS), the world’s largest bookseller, announced this afternoon that Gin Phillips’ debut novel, The Well and the Mine (Hawthorne Books & Literary Arts), and David Sheff’s moving memoir, Beautiful Boy (Houghton Mifflin), have been named the winners of the 16th annual “Discover Great New Writers Awards,” for fiction and nonfiction, respectively. Each writer was awarded a cash prize of $10,000, and a full year of additional marketing and merchandising support from the bookseller. Continue Reading →

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Starbucks Selects “Beautiful Boy”

This article originally appeared at

Starbucks Entertainment announced today the next title in its book program: David Sheff’s “Beautiful Boy: A Father’s Journey through His Son’s Addiction” to be published by Houghton Mifflin – a compelling true story examining addiction, trust, and renewal told by the parent of a meth addicted teenager. Continuing its commitment to connect customers with great books, Starbucks will begin offering “Beautiful Boy” on February 26, 2008 at more than 6,500 Starbucks Company-operated locations across the U.S.

“We seek titles that will inspire conversation both in our stores and with our customers,” says Ken Lombard, president Starbucks Entertainment. “David’s story embraces a depth of emotion, support and human resilience that brings readers face-to-face with an epidemic that is sweeping the nation. We are excited to have the opportunity to present this genuine, personal memoir to our customers.” Continue Reading →

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Selected as #1 Non-Fiction 2008 by Entertainment Weekly

This article was originally published at

Entertainment Weekly ranked Beautiful Boy as the #1 Non-Fiction Book for 2008.

#1 BEAUTIFUL BOY, David Sheff

When Sheff’s oldest child, Nic, became addicted to crystal meth, the once imaginative kid turned into a twitchy, larcenous tweaker who stole from his kid brother’s piggy bank and lied to everyone, especially his dad. Sheff’s is the story of a child’s addiction, but it is also a statement about parental love and its limitations.

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Beautiful Boy #1 New York Times Best Seller List

Beautiful Boy reached #1 on the New York Times Best Seller List in April and May 2008.

In addition, Entertainment Weekly named it the #1 Best Nonfiction Book of 2008 and it won the Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writers Award for nonfiction in 2008. selected it as one of the “Best Books of 2008” and Starbucks picked it as one of the few books it would sell in its coffee shops.

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Paramount Pictures Buys Screen Rights to Beautiful Boy and Tweak

This article originally appeared at

Brad Pitt’s Plan B Entertainment Will Produce

HOLLYWOOD, Calif., April 30 — Paramount Pictures announced today that it has purchased the screen rights to the current New York Times non-fiction bestsellers Beautiful Boy: A Father’s Journey Through His Son’s Addiction by David Sheff and Tweak: Growing Up on Methamphetamines by Nic Sheff, for development and feature film production by Plan B.

The critically lauded Beautiful Boy, published by Houghton Mifflin Co., chronicles the teenage Nic Sheff’s descent into methamphetamine abuse from the point of view of his father, journalist David Sheff, as he struggles to help his son overcome addiction. In Tweak, Nic Sheff himself details a harrowing summer during which he lapsed back into drugs and how he eventually recovered. Beautiful Boy and Tweak immediately became non-fiction bestsellers. Beautiful Boy is currently #1 on the New York Times Bestseller list. The books were hailed for the unique approach of a father and son tackling the same experience from two different perspectives, and they are recognized as definitive books about a problem that is epidemic in American society. Continue Reading →

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David and Nic Sheff featured on The Oprah Show

This article originally appeared at in April 2008.

David & Nic Sheff on OprahAddiction is a painful secret many families are too ashamed to discuss. In 2005, one father came forward in a very public way to share what it was like to love a child whose drug and alcohol abuse threatened to tear their family apart.

Award-winning journalist David Sheff wrote about his struggle to help his son Nic overcome a crystal meth addiction in The New York Times Magazine. After the article was published, David says he realized he was not alone. His story generated an overwhelming response from other parents of addicts.

“When this hit our family, we were like so many families in this country,” David says. “I was not naive about drugs. I used drugs when I was a kid. … But I still thought, like most of us, ‘This could never happen to our family.’ When it did, we were so blindsided. We were so devastated that I realized that this is something we have to talk about.”

David delves deeper into Nic’s drug abuse and its impact on their family in his book Beautiful Boy. “I realized the power of telling a story like this because it opens the door to other people,” he says. “It gives people permission [to discuss it].”

Using journals he kept throughout his life, Nic has also written a version of the story. In his memoir Tweak: Growing Up on Methamphetamines, he recounts his experiences as a teenage drug addict to the best of his recollection. Continue Reading →

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