Book: Beautiful Boy – A Father’s Journey Through His Son’s Meth Addiction

Beautiful Boy was written by David Sheff, a popular journalist, whose teenage son first tried methamphetamine at the age of 17. What began as his son’sexperimental use of the drug began a father’s struggle to save his son and his family from the devastating effects of a meth addiction. Beautiful boy is the story of father’s love and the pain that meth addiction causes a family.

What some Amazon readers felt about the book:

“This is a stunningly written, intense and emotional memoir of a father’s struggle to deal with his brilliant, charismatic, and caring son’s addiction to methamphetamine. It is honest and authentic and raw and heart-rending and fascinating. It is unforgettable. As I read, I felt many emotions for both the father and son—everything from anger to sadness to grief to fear. I felt as though I was right there on the emotional roller coaster with the author. Even if you have no personal experience of a loved one’s addiction, you will be moved by this father’s struggle to cope with his son’s substance abuse turmoils. Despite methamphetamine being this country’s most problematic drug, many of us, including me, know very little about it, and may not initially feel too interested in finding out. However, the author’s struggles and emotional journey are so poignant and compelling that any reader will find themselves caught up in this memoir, will benefit from what they learn and most of all, will be glad that they read it. If you know and/or love an addict, this book will be even more important—it will be vital—as you will find much to identify with and perhaps even be able to better process some of your own emotions. Highly recommended.

“As a parent, I was transfixed by this harrowing story of a charming, intelligent boy’s addiction and what it does to his family. You instantly like the boy, Nic Sheff, yet you can feel the father’s pain. The drug problems begin when author David Sheff finds a bag of marijuana in his 12-year-old’s backpack. By age 17 Nic is hooked on crystal meth, and he spirals into a decade-long pattern of drug abuse. He lies, steals, lives on the street and nearly dies. His heartbroken family takes the journey with him. At the end, with Nic in a shaky recovery, David Sheff has a life-changing moment when he realizes that “my children will live with or without me. It is a staggering realization for a parent, but one that ultimately frees us to let our children grow up.” Sheff has good practical advice in this book, starting and ending with talking with your child early and often about drugs. There is also a huge amount of information about methamphetamines and how dangerous and pervasive its abuse is in this country. I learned a lot of scary information in this book, and I’m sure it will be a lifesaver for many.”

“A father’s description of his son’s battle with drug addiction. It is so well written that it is a page-turning narrative even if you are not involved, personally or professionally, with drug addiction. It is moving and insightful and will be helpful to many. I feel bad about making any reservations about such a magnificent book, and I wouldn’t want to be construed as advocating legalization or minimizing the problems addressed but some comments are in order.
The introduction includes poignant stories of parents whose children have lost their lives to drugs. The lethality, the danger of death, does vary with different drugs. (Naltrexone is not mentioned). In most cases this is a chronic rather than an acutely life-threatening disease. There is some disconnect between the danger to life and the adverse effects on behavior and character. Nick’s drug of choice was methamphetamine but he was a multiple user, including shooting heroin. Detox regimes for different drugs differ markedly. There are accepted medical detox regimes for alcohol and heroin, whereas with cocaine and crystal meth and club drugs the withdrawal is just cold turkey. Paradoxically we have a lot of scientific knowledge about the action of these drugs but little in the way of treatment has come out of the neuroscience.
The book places some emphasis on marihuana as a gateway drug. No mention is made of the use of amphetamines (disguised as Ritalin, Cnncerta, Focalin, Adderall etc) to treat ADHD.
As regards the moral issue, I think Sally Satin’s logic is impeccable; the brain imaging studies show results not causes. On the other hand there is clinical evidence for a disease concept. Some people get jittery and have an unpleasant sensation if they take amphetamines; some get nauseated and cannot even tolerate taking Percocet for a toothache. Such people are not likely to become addicts, but that seems to be due to some chemical factor, perhaps inherited, not because they are nicer or wiser than anyone else.”

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