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Breaking Dad: Nic Sheff on His Father's Scathing Memoir

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Likfe Father, Like Son: David and Nic Sheff, now and then

By Nic Sheff

08/15/11

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(page 2)

Plus, I could see so clearly where it was going to lead. I could see myself spiraling down.

The truth was, I was in a whole lot of pain and so I’d reach out to drugs to try’n make myself feel better, and then I’d end up being enslaved by the drugs.

So I did something that would have seemed pretty much impossible ever before. I called my dad. I called him and told him what had been going on and, since I knew he’d done all this research about addiction treatment for his book, I asked if he could get a recommendation for me for a good doctor and a good program.

Of course, I was expecting him to be all angry and pissed off and blaming, so I was super nervous telling him all this on the phone. But what he said to me was really amazing. I mean, seriously, it was like a miracle. What he said was, “Nic, I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry that you have to go through this. And I’m sorry this is so hard for you.”

I couldn’t believe it. Hell, I started totally crying. 

‘Cause it was true, you know, and he understood. I didn’t want to be an addict. This wasn’t something I was doing ‘cause it was a ton of fun and I was just flipping the whole world off all the time, being like, “Fuck you, I’m having a good time and I don’t care about anything else.” It wasn’t like that at all. The truth was, I was in a whole lot of pain and so I’d reach out to drugs to try’n make myself feel better, and then I’d end up being enslaved by the drugs—starting the cycle all over again. Because once I started, that was it: the addiction would take hold. My dad understood that. He’d stopped blaming me.

And, in a way, well, I guess that allowed me to stop blaming myself.

It was such a gift he gave to me—his willingness to understand and his willingness to share the truth with me.

It changed my life.

Hell, it saved my life.

I am so truly grateful to him.

And, if I were to have a child of my own one day who was struggling with addiction, I’d like to think I’d do the same thing for him that my dad did for me—not necessarily write a book about him or anything like that but just telling him the truth about how he was affecting me and my family. Because really, trying to “protect” an addict from the truth is like fucking nailing up their coffin. I’ve seen it before, with the parents of addicts who refuse to ever acknowledge the problem. And I’ve seen those addicts die the way I’m a hundred percent fucking sure I would have, too, if the people in my life who love me hadn’t been willing to tell me the truth about what a fucking asshole I’d become.

Nic Sheff is a columnist for The Fix and the author of two memoirs about his struggles with addiction, the New York Times-bestselling Tweak, and We All Fall Down. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife, two hound dogs, and a cat. He is currently working on a novel about sisters growing up in a Northern California cult.

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