Overcoming addiction is often a challenge to the victims of substance abuse. Beautiful Boy is a memoir by David Sheff which narrates the tale of a family and how they handled the addiction of their son Nic on methamphetamine. However, the view of the son was written in a different memoir by Nic Sheff in a book known as Tweak. The two tales talk of the addiction of Nic, a young individual who relapsed severally after attempts to rehabilitate him. However, there exist several discrepancies in the two journals as discussed by the father and son. The paper aims to discuss the personal challenges faced by a drug addict and the resulting consequences based on the experiences of Nic from both memoirs.
Physical/psychological impact of drug addiction
According to David's journal, Nic got drunk at age eleven for the first time. In the following years, he frequently did cocaine, smoked pot, and did Ecstasy. He then later developed addictions to heroin and crystal meth. However, he had a perception that whenever he felt like quitting taking the drugs, he would easily do it and take a step to put his life organized. One summer in California, his addiction took a fierce relapse that convinced him that he had lost control (Sheff, 2009). In the memoir Tweak, a raw and honest voice of Nic spares no detail in describing the tragic, compelling, and true narrative of his deterioration and the path to recovery. Nic plunges into physical and mental rock bottom of drug addiction, as he portrays an image of an individual at odds with his history, with his substances, with his family, and also with himself.
The psychological impact on Nic entailed psychological tolerance to the effects of crystal meth which made him desire to ever-increase amounts of intake. He also found himself falling into depressions occasionally and faced with hallucinations. His behavior also changed and had mood swings which created anxiety in him (Tracy, 2017). The physical impact on Nic involved changes in his appetite and irregularly sleeping patterns as narrated by his father in the book Beautiful Boy. The frequent use of the drug placed him in the risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases as a result of a desire to engage in risky behavior. Signs included Nic's anti-social behavior and withdrawal from their relationship. He changed his group of friends, and eventually, some physical symptoms appeared such as loss of weight and change in skin color.
His addiction significantly affected his family alongside his loved ones. His relationship with his mother took much time to affect her directly. The reason for this was because she was missing from his everyday life. She had little understanding of what addiction entailed and the negative aspect of drug abuse. However, when Nic moved closer to her, she became more aware of the impact of the dependency when she finds Nic attempting to steal from her garage (Sheff, 2009). It is also evident from the memoir that Nic's addiction affected Karen and David's relationship. Despite her love for Nic, Karen became protective once she got her children and was upset by David's attempt to help Nic.
Drug addiction impacts an individual from all perspectives, and the society gets influenced by the actions of a person addict. The story of Nic describes a very supportive family, but previously the father is accused of enabling the supply of drugs to him (Nichols, 2017). The father used to smoke in front of the children, and this could be a contributing factor to the early introduction of Nic into smoking. The family also faced financial struggles as they had to pay for his rehabilitation fees which were costly. The constant medical care and attention needed by Nic upon taken to rehabilitation facilities made the family spend a lot, especially with his constant relapse (Sheff, 2009). The use of methamphetamine also impacted the environment negatively. The production of the crystal meth which Nic depended on is highly flammable and hazardous. When such chemicals get stored, they may cause explosions and fires at labs where they are produced.
Upon Nic becoming volatile, he started stealing from the family, and that is when the motherly instincts in Karen kicked in to safeguard her young children. Karen still loved Nic, but her realization that helping Nic was no longer helping him at all was quicker than that of the rest. The protection instincts of Karen created tension in the marriage. The fact is that Nic was David's son which made David feel guilty for his addiction and this took him longer to give up on him (Nichols, 2017). Nic's addiction also impacted his siblings to a great extent. It is a norm for younger siblings to emulate their older siblings hence in the process they trust them indirectly. When Nic began stealing even from his little siblings, the trust they had in him got broken leaving them scared and confused (Sheff, 2009). They got worried whenever they heard and witnessed their mother and father fight over Nic, and this broke their fragile hearts.
The intense cravings for drugs alongside the costly aspect of narcotics drove Nic to commit crimes such as stealing even from the family to secure drugs. Nic engaged in taking property belonging to his family with an intention to exchange for drugs or get money to buy the drugs (Sheff, 2009). The crimes such as theft, burglary, and larceny may range from a misdemeanor to felony, and all have penalties depending on the offense committed.
Drug abuse and domestic violence are strongly interconnected. Domestic violence exhibited by David in his memoir a Beautiful Boy indicates drug addiction leading to the separation and divorce from David's mother. Approximately 25 to 50 percent of domestic acts of violence get committed by men having alcohol or drug problems. The drug addicts tend to be violent more regularly and impose severe injuries to their partners and family. Such violent acts are punishable by law.
Financial and Vocational Impact
Addicts, as well as their families, pay highly for substance abuse, regarding funds consumed on the drug substance or in the form of job and wages opportunities lost as a result of drug dependency. Nic became a burden to the family of David and Karen as the expenses they incurred in all rehabilitation facilities he was taken to only to relapse later were costly (Sheff 2009). He had low productivity and ended up engaging in criminal activities. The society also contributes substantial amounts to such issues like health care expenditures, vanished productivity, law enforcement efforts related to drug activities, drug treatment programs, and lastly housing and upkeep of drug criminals in prisons and jails. The financial difficulties of substance abuse get accumulated by the compromised intellectual capabilities experienced when under the influence.
The emphasis on treatment of drug addiction has become more inclusive in current years, with some evaluation of vocational functioning and work history being a part of the intake procedure like Addiction Severity Index. It is often required by welfare reform and managed care. Though, the delivery of vocational amenities by drug abuse management programs still need expansion. Some of the primary motives for the absence of vocational facilities in management programs comprise of the present stress on an outpatient or briefer methods of treatment which are cost-efficient (Nichols, 2017). The shorter the period a client spends in treatment, the lower the cost which is a philosophy of therapy that is not vocationally driven. Vocational services in the traditional setting emphasized comprehensive evaluation, building esteem, skill building, and modification to social situations, alongside having an elementary education (Center for Substance Abuse Treatment., 2017). Today's attention is on labor first and getting employment quickly, which attempts to avert drug addicts from lacking financial sustenance when assistance from the public ends, which ignores the emphases by the traditional approach. The approach benefits the low-skilled, unemployed clients to obtain work fast but prevents these persons from advancing into better paying and higher satisfying occupations.
Recovery strategies for Nic
The integrated approach of recovery with aid in detox program was an effective treatment plan for Nic, and also it set time was much longer than the initial programs. I consider a combination of meditation, creative outlets, group therapy, and personal therapy assisted in the recovery process of Nic. His parents were anxious about a weekend for the family since they had been there before as well and did it. However, upon seeing how the treatment package was impacting Nic in a different way and using new communication methods such as art and even family mapping facilitated opening up a more sensitive side of him than any other treatment they had previously (Sheff, 2009).
The recovery strategy entailed an integrative treatment, and it includes; provision of centralized care within a separate recovery facility, a cooperative team for rehabilitation that involves addiction counselors, and psychologists, alongside other trained professionals in Dual Diagnosis care ("Bipolar Disorder and Addiction | Dual Diagnosis", 2017). Also, a particular personal psychotherapy that centers on handling Nic's emotions while reducing the threat of substance abuse is part of treatment. There also exists the need for psychiatric treatment to help him control the mood swings of a bipolar disorder patient. Lastly, support from a peer group battling a mood disorder and addiction will help significantly.
Knowledge contains power, and in the case of Nic's addiction, the mere fact that he was a bi-polar contributed into his constant relapses. The fact that the treatment he was taken first only focused on the drug addiction and ignored his bipolar disorder, made it hard for him to recuperate fully. Nic also stated that while under a treatment center in Arizona, he realized that the recovery was for self and not for the benefit of his family or others. It was a vital realization for him. He had loving parents at his disposal who possessed financial capability. Nic also had a support system of friends in addition to being well educated. However, he had to regularly listen to his parents fighting, going through emotional stressors of his parents divorcing that split his life into two hence the need to keep choosing a side. His father's lifestyle, which made him as a young child goes to places he should have never gone contributed to his addiction. However, proper treatment helped in his recovery despite all the difficulties he faced (Sheff, 2009).
Bipolar Disorder and Addiction | Dual Diagnosis. (2017). Dual Diagnosis. Retrieved 12 April
2017, from http://www.dualdiagnosis.org/bipolar-disorder-and-addiction/
Sheff, D. (2009). Beautiful boy: a father's journey through his son's addiction. Houghton Mifflin
Sheff, N. (2009). Tweak: Growing up on methamphetamines. Simon and Schuster.
Nichols, K. (2017). The Impact of Drug Addiction on the Family - Solutions Center. Solutions
Center. Retrieved 12 April 2017, from
Tracy, N. (2017). Effects of Drug Addiction (physical and psychological) - Drug Addiction -
Addictions | HealthyPlace. HealthyPlace. Retrieved 12 April 2017, from
Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. Integrating Substance Abuse Treatment and Vocational
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