Every once in a while I pick up a book and strange things happen to me on the inside. I find myself moved. I discover information I was totally ignorant of. I weep for the particular sadness this book footnotes again and again. I closed the last page and began to see this parcel of the world just a little different.
David Sheff has written a splendid book about his family’s journey through their son’s addiction. His son Nic was brilliant in so many ways. He was given the best education one could have. He was a varsity athlete and an honors student. He was adored by his younger brother and sister. Though his mother and father divorced while he was still young—both parents loved Nic fiercely.
Nic became addicted the crystal meth and the whole family was turned inside out. Meth, one of the most addictive of the drugs, changed Nick and his family in terrible ways. After meth took hold of their son he lied repeatedly, stole money from his eight-year-old brother and his parents and lived on the streets. The father recounts the pain of sending his son to rehab after rehab. Nothing ever seemed to work. His father, a journalist researched every avenue trying to find help for his son. The book tells what happens to people addicted to meth. The father tells what the devastations that Nic experienced changed their family forever.
Chillingly the father wrote: “When Nick was growing up, I thought I would be content with whatever choices he hade in his life...Now I live with the knowledge that, never mind the most modest definition of a normal or healthy life, my son may not make it to twenty-one.
We have all been touched by drug and alcohol addiction. Hardly a church anywhere does not have someone out there in the pews on Sunday who lives either with their own addiction or the burden of some child they have not been able to help. What they need is what we all need—compassion and understanding. These parents and relatives live with guilt and shame and face painful situations they can do little about. Read this book if you would like to learn more about some of the kids down your street on in your school or even upstairs in a bedroom in your house. There are few answers in this book—but the questions this father raises are questions we all must live and struggle with as members of the human family. We still have much work to do.