I finished this book last night. I can't recommend it highly enough to parents. I plan to encourage my teenagers to read it. It's a memoir, written by a father, David Sheff, whose family is coping with their son's addiction to methamphetamine.
Before reading, I had a basic but inadequate knowledge of meth. I had attended a substance abuse conference, but this was years ago, when meth was largely an urban street drug, before it had exploded in rural and suburban America. I had treated individuals who reported a history of using meth, but no acknowledged addicts or current users. That I knew of. After reading this account, I'm close to convinced that a perplexing patient or two were actively using.
I had seen Oprah's depiction of suburban moms addicted to meth but stereotypes die a slow death. I still viewed this drug as a low income affliction, not something my kids would be at risk to use. I had heard first hand accounts of how prevalent meth use was in very rural areas, such as small towns in Wyoming and Montana. Again, not my kids.
This book is a wake up call to parents. All parents. That means me, too. It's about a family I could identify with. A boy with loving, supportive, nurturing parents. A boy whose intellect, creativity, and sparkling personality showed all the signs of a bright future.
Sheff tells us about the private schools carefully selected to advance his son Nic's academic career. Nic's attendance at a study program in Paris. His acceptance at numerous prestigious universities. His attendance at U.C. Berkley.
Nic first tried marijuana and alcohol at age 12, younger than my son is now. His parents' response seemed reasoned and appropriate. Like how I imagined I would handle it. Nic's escalation into "the hard stuff" was unlikely and shocking. Once in the grip, the Sheff family found themselves in the midst of a harrowing nightmare.
Sheff gives us a moment by moment account. His personal reflections, fears, uncertainties, shock, and despair. He wrenchingly questions his parenting decisions, wondering "What did I do?" and "What could I have done differently?"
He interviews leading university researchers and shares his acquired knowledge. It's a quick study on the ravages of meth and recovery strategies. So, for me it serves a personal and a professional function.
In 2005 David Sheff first wrote an article for the New York Times describing his son's ongoing addiction. You can read it on Sheff's website, here or at the NYT, here. He later published this memoir, Beautiful Boy, an expanded version. A book review in the NY Times can be read here and here.
The most common street names for crystal meth are ice and glass. Here are some others:
Batu.....Blade.....Cristy.....Crystal.....Hoo.....Hot ice.....Ice cream.....Icee.....L.A. glass.....L.A. ice.....Quartz.....Shabu..... Shards.....Stove top.....Sugar.....Super ice.....Teena or Tina.....White crunch.... An even longer list can be found, here.
You can view David and Nic Sheff on Oprah, here. Nic has written a book called, Tweak, which I plan to read next.
Oddly enough, I had sat down with my kids about a week prior to my friend lending me this book. I said "We're going to have a talk about sex and drugs." They immediately belly ached, "Aww, Mom! We know all about that stuff."
No. They didn't.
Neither did I.