This article originally appeared at oprah.com in April 2008.
Addiction 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.
View the full story and additional resources at oprah.com.