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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

"Beautiful Boy" A Father's Struggle With His Son's Addiction.

Beautiful Boy A Fathers Struggle With His Sons Addiction.

"Beautiful Boy" is a real life account of a father's struggle with his son's addiction. It is by no means a how-to book on dealing with a child who has been caught in the grips of addiction; rather, David Sheff shared his experience so he could better understand the process of his son's addiction and possibly it would help other people in similar situations. He makes it clear that his way may not have been the best and at no time was it easy. There are many accounts of an individual's addiction; but, for whatever reason there are not that many accounts from parents. Maybe it is too hard for most families to relive chaos by putting it on paper, or perhaps words cannot describe the hell they had to endure over and over.

There are choices we make at a very young age that can forever alter the path we move along; decisions, which on the surface appear to be small and insignificant, but actually are the first steps on a hard road of chaos, pain, and destruction. I think as human beings it is natural to envision a life of happiness, one overflowing with achievement and respect. Nobody wakes up one day and says, "I want to be a failure, I want to be the source of pain for every person that walks into my life". Furthermore, it is impossible for a child to foresee terrible and unforgettable turning points in their life; traumatic events like divorce, disease, and death are the last thing on a child's mind. Sadly events like those happen, turning children upside down with nothing to hold on to.

Nicholas Sheff was one of those children, a child barely aware of the odds of existence; faced with his parents' divorce, his father's philandering, and the death of particular role models. Nic was a child whose brilliance was off the charts; a writer, musician, and an athlete who excelled at what ever he put his mind to.

Underneath his exterior exists a world of sorrow, his mind drowning in isolation and existential thoughts; his family was completely unaware of what was taking place inside of Nic, until it was too late. At the age of twelve Nic's addictive gene became triggered by alcohol, while on a family trip to Lake Tahoe. That was the point when he began climbing down the ladder of drugs, with the first rung being pot. He slowly graduated to Methamphetamine and Heroin; drugs became "the pinnacle of his existence", a full time job with the potential for early retirement.

There is no right way of looking at things when dealing with any kind of -ism, especially when it is your own child. A parent wants nothing but the best for their children; they want to shield them from all external nightmares that live around every corner. Unfortunately, it is the internal nightmares that can cause the most heartache; there are not any kinds of markers or red flags that can signal a parent and warn them that their child has the disease of alcoholism or drug addiction. Most parents believe that using drugs and alcohol is choice, and if someone cannot stop they are lacking will power. This mind set only makes things worse and further alienates a child who already feels inadequate and different than their peers.

"Beautiful Boy" deals with the different stages a parent goes through when they find out the news that their child has a problem. David Sheff went to any length to investigate the nature of Methamphetamine (Nic's drug of choice). A parent will look at a loved one's addiction and make it their own. They ask them self "if only" or "why" did this happen to me; the more they ask the questions the further they get from the answer. After countless nights of not knowing where your child is, whether they are alive or dead, and countless treatment facilities and overdoses; David came to the realization that "our children will live or die without us", that other peoples fates are out of your hands.

"So many times in the past decade I made mistakes out of ignorance, hope, or fear. I've tried to recount all as and when they happened, in the hope that readers will recognize a wrong path before they take it. If they don't, however, I hope they may realize that this is a path that they can't blame themselves for having taken." -David Sheff-

The family dynamic of addiction is powerful. Whiteside Manor 'believes that family involvement in substance abuse treatment is crucial for recovery; therefore, Whiteside Manor has developed a family program to meet these needs. The goal of our Family Program is to introduce participants to the principles of recovery along with providing necessary social and emotional support. It also assists the client and family members in understanding the complicated disease of addiction and its impact on the family.'

I encourage you to read David Sheff's "Beautiful Boy", inquire about Whiteside Manor's Family Program and let me know what you think.

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