Beautiful Boy by David Sheff
I put off reading this book for so long because I knew it would be difficult — and rightfully so. However, I do believe it is worth reading. It is the harrowing, true story (probably so much more harrowing because it’s true!) of a father whose son is addicted to methamphetamine. The account is painstaking and painful, recurrent and repetitive, really because the experience is. He tells of his son, Nic, who is a bright, talented, truly “beautiful” boy who maybe and maybe not because of his parents’ difficult divorce and their long-distance custody arrangement, begins to use marijuana. He quickly moves on to alcohol and other drugs and finally finds his true love in meth. And the drug, as it tends to do, takes over his life. When Nic is on the drug, he becomes a different person — cold, impervious, resentful and conniving and completely manipulates his friends and family to enable his drug use.
His is a typical story, evidently, and the author peppers the story with actual research statistics and theories and advice for other parents in the same situation. Mostly, though, it seems to be a catharsis for this father who writes as his way of coping. He offers frequently that there is no great advice and there is no single answer to what heals an addict. It seems there are some addicts who cannot be healed. Even with treatment and rehab there is relapse and it often seems truly hopeless.
Probably most importantly, the author stresses particularly at the end of the book, the importance of the family members to get treatment themselves. Being that closely tied to an addict can be just as “addictive” and destructive as being the addict. It can take over your life just as easily. This is an important message for those close to anyone with such an overwhelming disease.
As painful as this book was to read, I am so glad I did read it. I learned so much.