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From bad trips to good tips for teens

Nic Sheff is a brilliant, wildly creative, courageous, well-read, charismatic and very cool young man. At the end of my…

By Rosemary Keevil-Fairburn , in Busted and Booked , on January 20, 2009 Tags: , , , , ,

Nic Sheff is a brilliant, wildly creative, courageous, well-read, charismatic and very cool young man.

At the end of my last blog entry I wondered if Sheff, author of Tweak, Growing Up On Methamphetamines was still sober. I found out he did relapse "just on pills and marijuana," which definitely is not cool, but he is sober now with a blog, which he has stopped writing, and a MySpace page.

But that is not the reason he is so cool and all those other things I said, although he has a pretty funky MySpace page. And he has written what looks to be an intriguing book, which also is not the reason he is so cool and all those other things I said.

I should mention that Tweak is about Sheff’s "struggles with addiction – specifically IV crystal meth and, uh, coke and heroin and crack and all sorts of pills and ecstacy and hallucinogens and pot and alcohol and I guess just about everything," as he wrote in the Second Afterword of the book.

My admiration kicks in when I read what he has included at the end of the book: the two Afterwords, the reading book guide for Tweak, and a list of resources for young people struggling with alcohol and drugs.

Sheff is telling young people how "not to" do it. And he is cool enough and smart enough and interesting enough that young people will pay attention.

In the Afterwords he reveals how brutally honest he has been and admits that scared him. He was scared because he had exposed his doubts, fears and insecurities. Then Sheff says that he realized he was not unique after reading books by authors who "fearlessly examined and exposed their highly imperfect inner lives."

He mentioned Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller and Try by Dennis Cooper: "They gave me permission to start accepting my flaws, my darkness, my insanity."

By being starkly honest about "the pain and vacancy" he has had inside of him his entire life he is giving others permission to face their realities too. Sheff’s "others" are teens and young adults.

What’s more is Sheff gives practical direction too. The very back page lists resources such as Alateen and the National Institute on Drug Abuse for Teens.

There is even a Reading Book Guide for Tweak complete with discussion questions and activities obviously aimed at youth. It ends with an Internet address for Check Yourself: A place for teens to check where they are with drugs and alcochol.

I couldn’t say it better than the London Daily Mail which is quoted on the front flap of the book: Tweak and Beautiful Boy (by Nic’s dad, David Sheff) should be, "mandatory reading for every teenager and every parent of one."