Flip Sides of an Addiction; My Beautiful Boy: David Sheff with His Son Nic, Who Seemed to Have a Bright Future

Daily Mail (London), February 1, 2008 | Go to article overview

Flip Sides of an Addiction; My Beautiful Boy: David Sheff with His Son Nic, Who Seemed to Have a Bright Future


Byline: John Harding

Critic's choice TWEAK by Nic Sheff (pocket books, [pounds sterling]7.99) Beautiful Boyby David Sheff (pocket books), [pounds sterling]11.99

WHEN David Sheff's home was burgled, he didn't need the police to find theculprit.

There was a prime suspect, his own 21-year-old son, Nic.

Another time Nic broke into his mother's house to steal her computer. He alsoburgled his grandparents and once pilfered his nine-year-old stepbrother'smoneybox of its $8 savings.

Nic was the walking incarnation of every parent's worst nightmare: a childlost, seemingly irredeemably, to drugs.

Growing up, Nic was the 'beautiful boy' of John Lennon's song. He seemed tohave it all. The son of prosperous journalists, he was precociouslyintelligent, personable and popular, and by his early teens already provinghimself a talented artist and writer, a handsome blond surfer, the epitome ofmiddle-class American health.

A brilliant future seemed assured.

Except he was already experimenting with cannabis, and his childhood had notbeen without difficulties.

His parents divorced when he was seven and joint custody meant he became afrequent flyer between father David in San Francisco and mother Vicki in LosAngeles.

As a young man, David himself had smoked pot and experimented with other drugs.He didn't panic at finding cannabis in his son's room and indeed, Nic'sdabbling with drugs, typical of his generation, might have stopped there..

Unfortunately Nic also tried a drug described as 'the number one drug problemin America', crystal meth, formal name methamphetamine, alias tweak, gak, Tinaor speed, a drug so addictive it has 35 million users worldwide, compared to 15million cocaine and seven million heroin users.

MADE in makeshift labs from ingredients found in decongestants and brakecleaner, injected and sometimes smoked, crystal meth is highly addictive andvery dangerous.

Users often 'tweak', experiencing a psychosis and suffering hallucinations,intense paranoia, deluassions and symptoms similar to schizophrenia.

Tweakers can go without sleep for 15 days and be extremely violent, committingspousal and child abuse, and murder. In some U.S. cities 80-100 per cent of allcrime is reckoned to be methrelated.

Meth use is spreading across Britain, too.

The success rate for users permanently kicking the habit may be under ten percent, and even then it takes at least two years for the ex-addict's burned-outbrain to regain normal function, if ever. …

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