by David Sheff
movie named after david’s book (beautiful boy): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beautiful_Boy:_A_Father%27s_Journey_Through_His_Son%27s_Addiction
when you cross the street, take my hand – john lennon ‘beautiful boy (darling boy)’
we say ‘everything‘ to each other. it is our way of saying i love you, i will miss you so much, i am sorry – the jumble of feelings when he comes and goes..
though it may be the best we can do, i loathe joint custody. it presupposes that children can do just as well when they are divided between two homes, each defined by a diff parent and diff step parents and sometimes step siblings and a jumble of expectations, discipline and values that often contradict one another.. ‘home is a holy thing’ emily dickinson said. but homes is an antilogy. how many adults can imagine having two primary homes?
not only had they not recovered but they were doing worse.. (interview w 2-17 yr olds whose parents had divorced in early 70s.. wallerstein followed the children every few years for the next 25.. more than 1/3 experienced mod to severe depression.. no one wanted to hear the message.. the messenger was attacked.. feminists..said wallerstein was part of backlash against women.. in effect telling them to go back home, stay married, and take care of their children.. men’s groups praised her for emphasizing importance of fathers in children’s lives and attacked her when she said some forms of joint custody seemed to be harming children.. but her work reverberated throughout the country, influencing courts, legislatures, therapists, and parents..
(wallerstein) concluded: you’d like ot think that these kids could simply integrate their lives between their two homes.. have two sets of peers, and easily adjusts to being w each parent.. but most children do not have the flexibility.. they begin to feel as if ti’s a flaw in their character when it si simply impossible for many people to conduct parallel lives’
for many families, summer vacation is respite from the stresses of school year, devoted to time together.. i just want to get thru it as fast as possible (nic at mom’s then)
though he would never want to choose between his parents, neither would he chose join custody… at the least nic should not have been forced to do the traveling.. we should have
maybe we delude ourselves that we can purchase a better, at least easier, life for our children.. (on public vs private school)
we dismissed what we viewed as hysterical ‘speed kills’ warnings and many other antidrug public service announcements. ‘they’ the govt, parents, were trying to scare us. why? on drugs we saw thru them and we were no longer afraid of them. but they could nto control us.
i felt an almost overwhelming sense of well being a sense that everything would be – was – exactly right.
actually, since people often break those vows, maybe it should be law: if you have children, yo must stay near them. or how about some common sense: if you move away from your children, you have to do the traveling to see them?.. he poignantly describes the effect of his years of our joint custody arrangement: ‘i am always missing someone’
what child has an ulcer at 17?
drug stories are sinister. like some war stories, they focus on adventure and escape
somehow we have evolved so that higher ed and drunkenness and drugs are, for many students inextricably tied.. t
i have become inconsequential. i don’t see what more i can do other than warn him, negotiate and enforce curfews, deny him the use of the car, and continue to drag him to the therapist, even as he becomes increasingly furtive, argumentative and reckless..
suo’s report suggests that until the govt takes on the pharma co’s .. the war on this drug will remain something of a joke. the proof? users who want meth can find it virtually anywhere
as many as half of all meth users, and a larger percentage of ice users, tweak. that is, at some point they experience the type of meth psychosis first id’d in japan in the late 1940s. it is characterized by auditory and visual hallucinations, intense paranoia, delusions, and a variety of other symptoms, some of which are indistinguishable form schizophrenia. the hyperanxious state of tweaking can lead to aggression and violence, hence the following, from a reports for police on how to approach meth addicts. ‘the most dangerous stage of meth abuse for abusers, medical personnel and law enforcement officers is called ‘tweaking’ a tweaker is an abuser who probably has not slept i 3-15 days and is irritable and paranoid. tweakers often behave or react violently .. detaining a tweaker alone is not recommended and law enforcement officers should call for backup’
in the early 2000s, hospitals in the valley were treating many children, often of undocumented immigrants, for conditions related to the chemical by products of meth production.. as an fbi agent there told me, ‘millions of pounds of toxic chemicals are going into the fruit basket of the us.. the chemical are turning up in alarming levels in grounds water samples’
meth causes or contributes to fatal accidents and suicides,. after conducting a survey of suicidal tendencies in drug users, psychiatrist tom newton, ucla, concluded that ‘methamphetamine is a uniquely potent drug for inducing depression so sever that people feel like committing suicide’
no tears come at unexpected moments for no obvious reason, and they pour forth w ferocity. they scare the hell out of me. it scares the hell out of me to be so lost and helpless and out of control and afraid..
many researchers hold that this drug’s unique neurotoxicity means that meth addicts, unlike users of most other drugs, may never completely recover
it led her (edythe london) to conclude that meth addicts may be unable, not unwilling, to participate in many common treatments, at least in the early stages of withdrawal. rather than a moral failure or a lack of willpower, dropping out and relapsing may be a result of a damaged brain..
this means that, in addition to the biologically rooted high anxiety and depression, people getting off meth have severely impaired cognitive functioning
my essential question: even if nic stops using, can his brain recover
it was established that dopamine is dramatically reduced, but not whether there is a physical loss of the dopamine terminals.. according to dr kish
we’d never allow such a scene if these kids had any other disease. they would be in a hospital, not on the streets
‘life sucks, which is why i get high’
the lecturer explains that addiction is genetic, at least the predisposition to addiction
? i don’t know
my father once explained his concept of god: the ‘still small voice’ inside us – our consciences. i don’t call it god, but i too believe in our consciences. when we listen to that voice, we do the right thing. when we don’t.. we fail to.. in my life i haven’t paid close enough attention to it.. i didn’t know how.. but i try to now. when i listen to it and act on it.. i am more compassionate, less self obsessed, and more loving..
nic, james, and stephen share the same sense of humor and something else: the type of intimacy and affection that normally builds over months or years but it hastened in rehab, where people’s souls are exposed.
aa adage is true: you’re as sick as your secrets
i think: so this is where we get. not all of us, of course. but some of us come to a place where the good news is that our children are in jail
the research confirms it. addiction is an equal opp affliction – affecting people w/o regard to their econ circumstance, their ed, their race, their geography, their iq or any other factor..t
parents can only be as happy as their unhappiest child. according to an old saw. i’m afraid it’s true
heres a note to the parents of addiction children: choose your music carefully
the first goal is to keep addicts in treatment long enough for them to participate in cognitive and behavioral therapies that train, or retrain them
at matrix based programs, addicts are trained to interrupt their normal reactions to anger disappointment and other emotions
the idea is that any behavior, including behaviors that seem automatic or compulsive, can become conscious can then be interrupted..
he literally erases every trace of the person. i fantasize that i could have the procedure, have nic wiped from my brain. sometimes it feels as if nothing short of a lobotomy could help.. where is nic?.. i cannot take this any longer.
i realize that nic has discovered the bitterest of irony of early sobriety. your reward for your hard work in recovery is that you come headlong into the pain that you were trying to get away from w drugs..t
i know that being sober is more difficult for nic than i can comprehend.
i have to remind myself that if nic’s relapses horrify me, it’s worse for him. i suffer, vicki/karen/jasper/daisy/grandparents and others who love nic suffer, but he suffers more. ‘don’t confront me w my failures. i have not forgotten them’..t
nic writes ‘i’m looking for a way to say i’m sorry more than w just the meaninglessness of those two words. i also know that this money can never replace all that i stole from you in terms of the fear and worry and craziness that i brought to your young life. the truth is i don’t know how to say i’m sorry. i love you, but that has never changed, i care about you, but i always have. i’m proud of you, but none of that makes it any better. i guess what i can offer you is this: as you’re growing up, whenever you need me – to talk or just whatever – i’ll be able to be there for you now. that is something that i could never promise you before. i will be here for you. i will live and build a life and be someone that you can depend on. i hope that means more than this stupid not e and these 8 dollar bills.’..t
i have had a kind of brain scraping, a potentially lethal one, and i cannot recall my name and the year and yet i am not spared the worrying that only parents of a child on drugs – i suppose any parent of a child in mortal peril – can comprehend..t
we are connected to our children no matter what. they are interwoven into each cell and inseparable from every neuron. .t.. they supersede our consciousness, dwell in our every hollow and cavity and recess w our most primitive instincts, deeper even than our id’s, deeper even than our selves
i cannot forget when i couldn’t remember his number, and i am struck a new that a brain hemorrhage – even that – could not remove the worry about him. i recall the many occasions when he was gone, on the streets, god knows where, when i fantasized that i could scrape him out of my brain, if only i could get a lobotomy, the eternal sunshine of a spotless mind, and i would no longer agonize about him, and agonize for him. i am grateful now to have it all – even the worry and the pain. i no longer want a lobotomy, no longer want him erased..
i am now being allowed – allowing myself?- to crawl up out of the pit and lift the veil that covers it to witness, w visual and aural and tactile acuity, a slightly altered world, slightly brighter, richer and vivider
i may feel more fragile and vulnerable, but i experience more consciousness.
people who go thru life threatening experiences like mine talk about how everything becomes clear for them. they describe a revised understanding of what’s important and what isn’t .. they usually say that they appreciate more than ever their loved ones and friends. these survivors say that they have learned to cut out the extraneous in their lives and live for the moment
the miracles do not cancel out evil, but i accept evil in order to participate in the miraculous..
dumbledore says to harry (potter), ‘numbing the pain for a while will make it worse when you finally feel it’.. t
possible because there’s a time in their lives when children are dependent on their parents, we tend to forget that they can and swill survive w/o us.. i am all but irrelevant to nic’s survival. it took my near death, however, to comprehend that his fate – and jasper’s and daisy’s – is separate from mine. i can try to protect my children, to help and guild them, and i can love them, but i cannot save them. nic, jasper and daisy will live and someday they will die, w or w/o me..
it is still to easy to forget that addiction is not curable. it is a lifelong disease that can go into remission, that is manageable if one who is stricken does the hard hard work.. but it is incurable
the meaning i have come to is that nic on drugs is not nic but an apparition nic high is a ghost, a specter and when he is high my lovely son is dormant, pushed aside, hidden away and buried in some inaccessible corner of his consciousness
this is everybody.. to some degree.. begs a global reset
my faith, such as it is, comes w a belief that nic is in there and he – nic, his essence, his self – is whole, safe and protected..t
nic strong and clear and filled w love – nic may never again emerge. the drug may win the battle for his body.. but i can live knowing that nic is in there somewhere and that the drug cannot touch him where he is in there somewhere he is there.. whatever happens i will love nic.. somewhere in that place he knows this. and i know..
if it were legal, i would hire someone to kidnap nic and forcibly take him to a hospital for *detox w the hope that, sober again, at least w a window out of the deranged and deluded drugged state of mind – he would try. i have heard stories about parents who hired people to kidnap their adult children. i would consider breaking the law and suffering the consequences if i thought it would work, but i don’t think it would. nic would flee. if he was unready to be treated, he would flee.. yet.. it feels too risky to wait for him to bottom out
i know that no one knows the answer to what is right for nic or any other addict
people die before they ‘hit bottom’.. i don’t think ‘hitting bottom’ is a useful construct.. t
one morning, nic calls and informs me that he has a new plan. addicts always do. again and again, they reframe the world to fit into their delusion that they are still in control
‘the rehab industry is like the auto repair industry’ he (friend) says. ‘they want you to come back. and people always do. it’s a thriving industry because *no one gets well. they tell you ‘keep coming back.. he laughed grimly.. ‘that’s what they want.. i had to hit bottom when there is no one and nothing and i had lost everything and everyone..that’s what it takes. you have to be alone, broke, desolate and desperate’
yes, that might be what it takes. yes, the odds are that neither intervention nor another try at rehab will work. but they may
he (nic) tells me a little about the treatment program’s approach, diff from the other rehabs. ‘in my first group, a counselor asked me why i’m here. he asked, ‘what’s your problem”‘ i said, ‘i’m a drug addict and alcoholic’.. ‘he shook his head ‘no.. that’s how you’ve been treating your problem. what is your problem? ..t.. why are you here?’
maté addiction law – ‘the question is not why the addiction, but why the pain’
i’m afraid and i don’t want to want to see him and i don’t want to be happy to see him
it’s easy to forget that no matter how hard it is for us, it is harder for him.. t
how innocent we are of our mistakes and how responsible we are for them.. this is about healing, not blaming. is it possible to get beyond blaming?..t
suddenly i recall when i prayed for nic. i never planned to pray. i just looked back and realized i had been praying. what did i pray for? i never said stop taking drugs. i never said stay away form meth. i said, please god heal nic. i prayed. please god heal nic. please god heal every ravaged person in this room .. the dear ravaged people on this planet.. these dear.. wounded people..
my addiction to his addiction has not served nic or me or anyone around me.. nic’s addiction became far more compelling than the rest of my life.. how could a child’s life or death struggle not?..t.. now i am in my own program to recover from my addiction to his. the deep work occurs in therapy, but i take practical steps, too. like turning off my cell phone (always wondering if it’s him)
i learned that at some point, focusing on nic’s perpetual crises became safer territory than focusing on myself..
i have been uncovering layers of guilt/shame that help explain why i was so willing to take on the responsibility for nic’s addiction – for his life, in fact..
recently in the nytimes mag, william c moyers, the son of the journalist bill moyers and recovering addict said, ‘recovery is.. about dealing w that hole in the soul‘ what made the hole ?..t.. no one knows..
well we kind of do.. enough at least.. to fill/uncover it
my children will live w or w/o me. it is a staggering realization for a parent, but one that ultimately frees us to let our children grow up..t
on its web site the national mental health assoc reports that ’employing tactics of intimidation and humiliation is counterproductive for most youths.. boot camp graduates are more likely to be re arrested or are re arrested more quickly than other offenders’.. and detailing the more serious problem w boot camps, there are many ‘disturbing incidents ‘ of abuse. in 1998 in georgia, a us justice dept investigation concluded, ‘the paramilitary boot camp model is not only ineffective, but harmful’
w addiction, no outcome is guaranteed. stats are almost meaningless
for a book i wrote after beautiful boy, clean.. i continued to research addiction and learn that 90% of people who need help never receive it. indeed, people w addiction are more likely to wind up in prison than in rehab. those who do get treatment enter a broken system that’s almost impossible to navigate..t
*he id’d a major problem in addiction-treatment field: the majority of those who become addicted have co occurring psychological disorders and have experience some for of trauma. if those issues aren’t addressed, continued relapse is likely.. *(dr that was first to test/diagnose nic w bipolar and depression)
when nic felt depressed, getting high was not just the easiest remedy; it was the only one..t
rooted in the knowledge that addiction is a disease rather than a character flaw
not a character flaw.. but a disease?
yr beautiful boy published.. 36 000 people in america died of drug overdose.. in 2013 when i wrote clean.. 40 000.. in 2017 there were 64 000 .. 175 people died every day – 8/hr..
more people die of opioid overdose than car accidents suicide, or any other nonnatural cause..
many cases people couldn’t get pain meds because they were unavailable or expensive, and they discovered heroin and fentanyl, which are related and cheap, which explains the spike in use of – and overdose on – those drugs… fentanyl is 50x stronger than heroin.. another concern is an opioid called carfentanil, which is as much as 100x more potnet than fentanyl..
the current crisis is rooted in american’s 1/2 cent old war on drugs
hidden because many addiction related deaths are officially ascribed to other causes: suicide, homicide, accidents, heart attacks, hypertension, pulmonary disorders, strokes, and other brain hemorrhages, hepatitis and other infections, hiv aids, liver disease, respiratory disease, kidney disease septicemia, and on and one
according to a national survey called ‘the face of recovery’ 1/4 of people in recovery have been denied a job/promotion/insurance; 7 in 10 reported shame/social embarrassment.. in our society, addicts are viewed as having a character deficiency rather than a serious illness..
or a missing of essence.. whatever you call it.. just saying.. it’s not like a dr/med disease
we often ignore their condition except to criminalize it and the dangerous behavior it can led to. in addition, the threat of arrest and prosecution makes it less likely that addicts will admit their problem and seek early treatment. so the disease progresses, making it more likely that addicts will become criminals
‘at least 37 states are trying to end mandates that require insurance plans to cover the treatment of mental illness, including addiction’ – david
the war of addiction should include significant money for research as well as similar application and clinical trials programs research have 100s of promising ideas for meds
perhaps enough research already done.. perhaps.. more.. we need to just try a nother way for all of us to live..
the final component of a war on addiction should be prevention, the current buzzword for dealing w obesity, heart disease, and many other illnesses.. we could save billions of dollars and untold lives if we intervened early and prevented the progress of addiction and its effects. addiction prevention would id and face head on the risk factors, including social and psych conditions and mental illness, that often lead to addiction..
we’d eliminate much homelessness and dramatically reduce violence, including child abuse, spousal abuse, sexual assault, and violent crime. we’d help families stay together and repair broken neighborhoods, we’d alleviate immeasurable suffering..
20 min interview/movie mix: [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sLV2UIP-kBo]