Nic Sheff: 'Beautiful Boy' Discusses the Nitty-Gritty of Drug Addiction

By Jane Henderson Post-Dispatch book editor | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), January 11, 2019 | Go to article overview

Nic Sheff: 'Beautiful Boy' Discusses the Nitty-Gritty of Drug Addiction


Jane Henderson Post-Dispatch book editor, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)


Nic Sheff was in St. Louis less than three months ago, but he sounds happy to come back.

"It was really moving. It seemed like the community there was really interested."

Sheff is the subject of "Beautiful Boy," a movie about his addiction to drugs. He and Timothée Chalamet, the red-hot movie star who plays him, answered questions in October from young people at the Hi-Pointe Theatre.

The movie is based on memoirs by both Nic Sheff ("Tweak") and his father, David Sheff ("Beautiful Boy"). They will be at the St. Louis County Library on Saturday to discuss their newest book, "High."

Full of factual information about drugs and alcohol and accessible for middle grades and up, "High" is dedicated to "whoever's struggling with growing up, which means just about everyone."

Now, nine hard-won years sober, Nic Sheff writes and discusses plainly his struggles with everything from marijuana to meth. He writes:

"Once I started doing crystal meth, my life spiraled out of control in a flash. Meth made me arrogant, crazy, and fixated on more, more, more. I was like an animal, reduced to one need: to get high. Nothing else mattered. I broke into houses, stole money. I even stole from my little brother's piggy bank.

"My parents kicked me out of the house. I ended up homeless, living in a park in San Francisco. I ate out of garbage cans, got food from soup kitchens. I did things I'd never imagined doing to get money."

He's 36 now, but while growing up in San Francisco, he says, he didn't have much education about drug use. He remembers a police officer coming to his class and trying to scare students with a story of a guy on PCP jumping off a two-story parking garage.

Sheff thought: "That sounds amazing."

Deeply insecure and anxious, at 11 he found that smoking pot seemed to help.

"I was so uncomfortable in my skin. I said drugs and alcohol aren't my problem; they're my solution."

He believes that if his parents had given him a book like "High" he might have become aware of his own dependencies and asked for help sooner. …

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