Whatever" of David Sheff's book Beautiful Boy addresses the author's attempt to get his son, Nic, into a treatment program. Nic's hostility towards his father is palpable, as is David's helplessness in the situation. Nic, though a boy by many societal standards, is an adult and David's power to compel him into a treatment program is incomplete. Furthermore, Nic's medical condition, as assessed by the addiction rehabilitation counselor at the Oakland Rehab, is severe. Not only is he using a greater amount of drugs than many drug abusers much older than he is, but he is engaging in a dangerous practice of combining drugs. Furthermore, she says that the program is not right for Nic because he is proud of his hardcore status, resistant to treatment, and in denial about the severity of his problem. She offers David other resources, but does not seem to think that Nic will be successful in a rehab (Sheff, 2008, p.127). This element of the book really addresses hopelessness that families face when battling a family member's education. Even the best help-seeking efforts often fail to yield results, which can cause a downward spiral in the family morale, exacerbating tension, which can influence usage by the addict.
Furthermore, Sheff has young children at the time that Nic is struggling with addiction. In this chapter, he addresses how he and his wife approach their younger children, Daisy and Jasper, about Nic's drug addiction. They encourage their children to seek out help from people at school, though they are not good about following their own instructions for self-care. They respond to a counselor's suggestion that they go on a date with the response that they are, indicating how changed the family dynamic has been by Nic's addiction (Sheff, 2008, p.132). Both of these passages help highlight that addiction is a systemic problem, impacting the entire family, not just the addict.
Beautiful Boy Reaction: Part IV
"Part IV: If Only" of David Sheff's book Beautiful Boy opens with David and Karen heading to an Al-Anon meeting, their version of a date while they face Nic's addiction. David discusses his initial reluctance to discuss Nic's addiction with anyone. What is interesting is that he says it was not because he was ashamed, but not because he did not want people to change their opinions of Nic. However, the fact that he was aware that people's opinions would change because of Nic's addiction and that he initially looked down upon the other family members at the Al Anon meeting. He comes to find solace, comfort, and strength in those meetings, and they seem to give him the strength to realize that he does not need to hide his son's addiction.
He also seems to begin to understand the distinction between his son and the disease. He acknowledges that it is Nic's addiction that causes so many of his negative behaviors and reminds himself that Nic's recidivism is part of the addiction, though he wonders if it is a "moral failing or character flaw (Sheff, 2008, p.179). However, Sheff also comes to a conclusion that is important for all people dealing with addicts and addiction. According to Sheff, "It is not Nic's fault that he has a disease, but it is his fault that he relapses, since he is the only one who can do the work necessary to prevent relapse. Whether or not it's his fault, he must be held accountable" (Sheff, 2008, p.179). The idea of accountability is a critical one for addicts because they frequently seek to avoid responsibility for their disease. For example, Nic revealed to David that he wished he had any other disease because people would not blame him for having the disease, but the reality is that people would expect him to seek treatment if he had another disease and would hold him accountable if he failed to seek treatment. At some point in time, the failure to seek treatment for any disease becomes more of an overt act against one's loved ones than the benign neglect of self.
Beautiful Boy Reaction: Part V
"Part V: Never any Knowing" of David Sheff's book Beautiful Boy describes David's experience with a subdural hemorrhage.…