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on February 11, 2017
This was an amazing, touching book told from the other side of addiction - a side not heard very often - the side of a parent watching their child slowly spiral out of control due to addiction.
As a recovering addict myself, (13 yrs., 11 mos., 11 days), as well as a parent, it was really hard for me to read at times but I'm SO glad I did.
This is an amazingly touching book that is at times funny, emotional, heart wrenching, and hopeful. I would recommend this to book to everyone but especially to those struggling with either side of addiction.
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on March 28, 2016
Well, I'm addicted to methamphetamine. I've been in recovery for one year, 3 months, and 11 days. When I was released from jail one year ago, I decided to read Tweak. An old friend of mine read it while he was in juvie, that's how I first heard about it. Tweak was relatable to me, and so was We All Fall Down. Nic Sheff is an amazing person, he had overcome a lot. He inspires me.

So when I found out that his father also wrote a book about his son's addiction, I just had to have it. Let me tell you, Beautiful Boy tore me apart. I've only experienced life from the point of view of someone on meth. I thought I was being considerate, I always checked in with my family on a weekly basis. I was home at least twice a week. I worked full time, but still liked to go crazy with my friends. After reading this book (okay, while reading it) I cried and apologized to my parents, my grandparents, and my uncle for all the hell I had put them through. I honestly had no clue that I was hurting people so badly.

If you're an addict, if you have a child that is an addict, even if you're neither, READ THIS BOOK.
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on March 29, 2014
..unless addiction is involved. Sheff captures that mixture of hope and despair living in each parent whose child has gone into the dark, deep hole of addiction. His book is full of joy and tragedy. Love and relief, ambiguity and disgust and dislike. And guilt, so much guilt. Guilt for feeling all the love and hope and despair. In this book Sheff touches on pretty much everything parents feel (or at least this parent) when their child goes over to the dark side.

Very well written, spellbinding in its own way, the reader will have a hard time staying neutral to the players in this personal tragedy. Sheff admits that for years people have given well-meaning advice and criticism. You should have done this. Why on earth did you do that. Until and unless you've had to deal with HIS issues, there is no right or wrong. Sheff did the best he could at the time with the information he had, at that static moment in time. No parent can say they haven't done the same thing. And who knows if the result would have been the same after all?

Siblings, family, partners and friends have their own experiences with their addict, but a parent is a bit different. As Sheff points out, we are the soft place for them to fall, the most influential people in their lives until we send them off into the world and their tiny circle widens to include day care workers, teachers, coaches and friends. As parents we hand them over, so to speak, and our sphere of influence diminishes as the years go by- as it should. The mistake Sheff made, and he freely admits it, is that he was under the impression that he had armed his child with the tools he needed to succeed, and when that seemed to fail, Sheff began to question what exactly he had done to contribute to that failure.

It is common if not universal among the parents of addicted children to blame their parenting. Other people will also look first to the home environment. Sheff takes a long hard look at himself and his parenting, and still has a hard time forgiving himself for mistakes he made. But who doesn't make mistakes? Conversely, does that mean parents get to take the credit for every good thing their child does? Is it right for a parent to take credit for the successes or failures of their child? And failure and success are rather subjective anyhow. Sheff does not really address this, although he tries hard to forgive himself, which he should. I really hope he has succeeded.

What struck a deep note with me was how accurately he describes the sea change in parenting expectations... one day you are thrilled to see an A in spelling and almost the next you wake up grateful that the police haven't knocked on your door telling you that your child is dead.

I have not read Nic Sheff's book yet, I want to leave a little break between the two. But I highly recommend this book for anyone who has ever been touched by addiction of any kind. It won't do a thing to prevent addiction but it may give you a gleam of insight into the silent and desperate life of the friend, co-worker or relative who has a child in trouble.
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on May 17, 2014
It took me over 2 weeks to read this amazing book and I'm normally a 1-2 day per book person. Why? Because my own pain walking in David's shoes was so intense that I had to step away and could only take it in small doses. This has been our life for 20 years and I know there are specifics David didn't share/ couldn't share because it is so horrifying to know the reality of everything your child is doing to obtain these drugs of choice. It was comforting in some strange way to be inside David's head and know that I'm not alone in thinking these things and more. It is also appalling that in this great country - which gives away everywhere - that it is so incredibly difficult to find help and rehabs for those with mental health issues or addictions. The daily battle is overwhelming. There should not be such a battle/war to find reputable, effective programs for help. 28 day programs - a load of crap. Nothing of true, long lasting value can be accomplished in 28 day programs. I still remember sitting in our first family session at a program - 20 years ago. Sitting in that circle that would become yet another dreaded part of this process and listening to people talk about it being their 4th, 5th, 6th time. Thinking there is no way possible OUR child, OUR family would ever be back here doing this again. We were a good family, had raised great kids and we would handle this and fix it during this one go round. I lost track of the rehabs, the programs, the jails, the prisons a long, long time ago. I also learned a lot along the way about the impacts of things birth parents did to impact a beautiful girls destiny. Not to absolve our own part of this - all parents make mistakes along the way. But just because you received the gift of this child while they were young - it doesn't remove damage done in the womb and even as a small infant. And that terrifies me for the two beautiful baby boys that my child had and gave up to some other loving family. I worry about the predisposition to addiction those beautiful boys have been sentenced to. You learn....constantly and painfully. David captures this in his amazing book. I am debating with myself now about sharing it with my daughter so perhaps she can finally see inside our minds and hearts and understand the depths of the fear, the anger, the pain, the destruction. I want to believe that might help her/us heal if she could ever understand this isn't all about her and her pain. God help me but it does come to a place where you are glad they are locked up somewhere because at least they are safe and for a little while you can sleep....you aren't waiting for a dreaded call to come with horrid news.....or waiting for calls to come just to know they are alive. You do truly begin to dread and hate a ringing phone. Enough already. This is a true must read for any family or person that knows and loves an addict. It would be a good read for those that don't - just for their understanding and education about how this plague of addiction affects people they interact with every day and yet may not even know the hell they are living. Thank you for writing this David. I felt like I was holding my breath throughout waiting to know that Nic was still alive and was making it. I'll be reading Nic's own story next.
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on March 31, 2018
My mother was a severe alcoholic my entire life, so I was interested right off the bat and someone had recommended this book. I can appreciate the heart wrenching, exhausting pain that goes along with a family member having addiction problems. But in all honesty, this book fell flat, just being critical of the actual writing and the way the story is told. The endless descriptions, by the mid 200's of the book, he's describing the color of the grass in his backyard and what kind of flowers that were being planted in some scenes. Nic's story and how his family deals with it, is very interesting and kept me looped in the entire time. But I feel like at times, there are thse 10-15 page bursts worth of over descriptive stream of consciousness style writing that made me frustrated as a I read it (get to the point type of stuff). I would say pick it up if you're in need in some of some connection to those of us who have dealt with addiction or have family members that do. I wasn't the biggest fan of how the book read.
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on May 17, 2018
There is nothing like the pain of having an addicted loved one. I have a meth addicted son. J is absent, only his shell remains. I have been afraid-terrified to lose J, but I have lost him-just as the book so clearly quotes.
I relate to all the feelings this father expresses, the insanity of it all. I fight with myself to try and give up the insanity of wanting to control this. If only he would do this, that or the other, then he would get clean and stop destroying himself, his life and his family. I just don’t know any more. How does a parent give up on her child? I don’t know that I can, I try to remember that he has to be allowed to take control of his own life and by “helping”, I am taking that chance away from him.
But what a great book. I have learnt so much more about the effects on the brain. Like Nic my son’s primary drug of choice is meth-but anything will do and when the drug screens come back each time he enters detox there are multiple drugs in there. How is he still alive?
Anyway, I am much clearer now that there is no point in trying any rational approach to him, as that part of the brain that deals with logic and rational decision making has been fried by the drugs. It has to heal first.
Why isn’t there a safe and loving place these addicted people can be placed until their brain has been healed enough to understand what they are doing to themselves and then they can do the intensive treatment programs? It strikes me that these programs would be over just before the brain is even healed slightly.
Thank you for writing this book for those of us living this torture. I don’t know what the future will bring, and I’ve hidden my hope away behind a wall.
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on July 23, 2016
I read David's other book about addiction - this book explores the difficult relationship of a family to the addict themselves. I believe this is a good read for any family who has to deal with a struggling addict and many of the triggers or relapse and the struggles of rehabilitation that they all face. As with the other book, Clean, David is open and honest about all the struggles that they face, the ups and downs, the aggravations that occur, and the ignorance that the general American public has about drugs in general. I would recommend this book to anyone, but especially to the family who has a loved one who struggles with the disease of addiction.
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on December 9, 2014
I learned a lot from reading this book. I have a teenager and a college age child and was curious what might be some warning signs that I might not notice... and this book definitely opened my eyes and gave me a good understanding of the drug (meth) and how a "normal" kid could find themselves caught up in this horrible drug. Because of the book I've had good discussions with my kids. Bottom line is DON'T GET NEAR THE STUFF! Additionally, I'm really glad that the authors' son, Nic, wrote a book as well. Very helpful reading both and I am appreciative for the Sheff family for being so honest and sharing their experience/journey.
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on December 19, 2015
If you are an addict, if you love someone who is an addict, or if you want to help your children maneuver the mine fields of life, this is a great book to read. I wish I had the book 15 years ago when our nightmare started with 2 family members venturing into a life if drug and alcohol abuse. I wish I had it to give to my mom and dad who spent almost everything they had, even their health, trying to make these 2 well. Read it and share it, it will help.
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on April 23, 2014
I read Sheff's book in a couple of days. Unlike many other books about difficult family situations this memoir shares the abject pain of his son's multiple relapses but most importantly does a brilliant and poignant job of evaluating the WHYs involved in his son's drug abuse. The author spends time reflecting on what contributes to a child's destabilization and why he or she would seek out drugs to numb the pain to begin with. Sheff openly shares the disintegration of his marriage (his own culpability in that fact) as well as his ex-wife moving to Los Angeles when the child was just a youngster. The brunt of the parents issues fell on very young shoulders. Each of the parents went about rebuilding their lives with new spouses. Nic, an only child at the time, shouldered the distance by flying back and forth by himself and living with missing one parent at all times. Couple that fracture with a family predilection to addiction and Nic had a high probability of running off the rails.

The author does not shy from either topic. He spends time in his own reflectiveness and honesty. While he does not overly dwell on the whys he does thoroughly cover it. The remainder of the book is well researched on how to consult experts, find facilities, manage interactions with a child addict. Through the extremely dire situation, Sheff's parenting skills are kicked into high alert. For all of his early failings he is dedicated both emotionally and financially to finding a solution to save his son's life.

I appreciated every page of this book. Very worth the read!
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