Father and Son Addiction Term Paper

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Father and Son Addiction

Drug and alcohol addiction is one of the most compelling problems faced on multiple levels by society in the United States and across the world today. On the societal level, the problem affects the level of crime and public safety, as well as the relative moral fabric of society in general. On the collective level, it affects family unity and well-being. On the individual level, it destroys the lives and relationships of the addicts themselves. Indeed, there is no level on which addiction and drugs hold any long-term benefits. Sadly, it is the short-term high that takes precedence over all else for the addict. The fact that it is short-term creates a vacuum that is impossible to fill. Filling this vacuum, however, is the aim of all addicts, which creates long-term problems in search for short-term solutions. The Sheff family, and particular the father and his eldest son, has faced this problem over years of painful rehabilitations and relapses. In two honest, graphic accounts, the father and son each wrote a book on this experience from their respective viewpoints. Reading these books successively is both painful and uplifting. Both writers offer an honest and very specific account of their respective journeys as Nic Sheff spiralled on an apparently helpless downward path into increasingly severe addiction with only one possible outcome. The reading is also a highly unusual experience; most published personal accounts are either from an internal or external perspective, and seldom from both. It is also interesting and revealing to make a comparison of the father and son's works regarding the nature of the addiction, its effects, and Nic's ultimate victory over it.

Nic Sheff's book, Tweak: Growing Up on Methamphetamines, begins by focusing on his school years and a friend about whom there were "rumors" of drug addiction and rehab. The rest of the book is structured around his journey with his family, his friends, and his drugs. The structure of the book is interesting, almost reading like the roller coaster ride Nic's drug addiction must have been. Starting at his 17th year, the story contains multiple flashbacks, some from as long ago as his young childhood, while others are from days, weeks, or months before.
At the end of the book, Nic ends with an overview of his current life, living with a good friend and interacting with her family, as well as having adopted two cats. He has, finally, rebuilt his life, along with a reestablishment of his writing career. One gets the feeling, however, that this rebuilding is a little precarious when he makes statements like "The feeling of vacancy I always had really isn't there anymore" and "I guess I just don't hate myself like I used to" (N. Sheff, 2009, p. 279). The words "really" and "guess" lend a sense of uncertainty to the words. Perhaps this indicates that true rehabilitation, however solid its foundations, is always only a process of turning away from addiction every day.

David Sheff's Beautiful Boy: A Father's Journey Through His Son's Addiction tells Nic's story from the parent's perspective. In contrast to the younger Sheff's work, the account is far more linear, exposing far more of the external ripple effects of Nic's addiction. David himself, being obsessed with his son's addiction and the attempt to help him, describes his own process in the introduction to his book. The introduction starts with Nic returning from college for a home visit. The tell-tale signs of drug addiction are evident in his father's description of the extremely thin, sallow-faced and hollow-eyed boy who greets his family at the airport. While all is well at first, the account describes escalating deceptions and an ultimate relapse during the stay. The body of the work describes David's history with his son in detail from his first marriage, through a number of girlfriends and a second marriage. Interestingly, his turbulent early years were mitigated by a number of therapy sessions and loving parents and stepparents. It was only at 11, according to Nic's account, that addiction problems began to surface. Flashbacks in David's work occur generally when Nic reveals things his father did not know, such as Nic's first experiment with alcohol when he was 11 years old or his pot smoking with friends at school.

In both books, the social support aspect of overcoming addiction tends to be stressed. In….....

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