David Sheff addiction problems shows us that sometimes it isn’t the celebrities themselves that struggle with addiction recovery, but their families, and we can learn from these stories as well. Author David Sheff traveled through a very difficult public journey as his son battled addiction to methamphetamines and heroin, experiencing victory and defeat along the way in both addiction recovery and relapse.
Sheff is a journalist who has written for the New York Times, Rolling Stone, Fortune, and NPR’s All Things Considered. He has spent years interviewing famous and influential people including Jack Nicholson, John, Lennon, Frank Zappa, and Steve Jobs. Sheff’s work earned him a great reputation in his industry, and he has enjoyed much success at work.
In his personal life, however, David Sheff addiction was a quiet struggle. He spent years watching his son, Nic, battle the demons of drug and alcohol dependence and meth withdrawal. He almost lost his son to addiction and relapse, and through it all Sheff has been very public about the struggle. Sheff is possibly best known for, Beautiful Boy: A Father’s Journey Through His Son’s Addiction, a bestselling book released in 2008.
Today Nic is in recovery and doing well, but Sheff still speaks publicly about the alcohol dependence and what must be done about it. “We can only help [end addiction] when we stop focusing on the drugs themselves and focus on why people use them,” said Sheff to an audience at Yale. “Stress is related to addiction on the most primal level. It’s useless to tell the child who is being bullied or failing in school, or who is being traumatized by family turmoil, to ‘Just say no. It’s pointless to tell our children to make good choices about drugs if they offer them a reprieve from the darkness they feel or the connection that they so badly crave. People in pain are desperate for relief.”
Families Should Face Addiction Recovery
Sheff chose to make his family’s struggle public and hasn’t regretted the decision one bit. He wishes more people would stop hiding substance dependence so they can benefit from addiction recovery in the form of help and support of others. “We don’t know how pervasive addiction is because addicts and families already keep it secret,” he said, later adding: “When we choose to no longer hide our own or our child’s addiction, we can feel tremendous relief … We can learn we are not alone.”