A conversation with David Sheff, author of “Clean”

David Sheff is the best selling author of Beautiful Boy, the account of his son’s struggle with drug addiction.  Recently, he came out with a new book, Clean: Overcoming Addiction and Ending America’s Greatest Tragedy, which describes the state of the treatment industry, and what a person has to do to get clean from drugs.

AddictionMyth recently sat down with Mr. Sheff for an intimate interview via email.

AddictionMyth: I absolutely loved your book Beautiful Boy. It’s one of those rare books for me that I didn’t want to put down, and didn’t want it to end. Even though it was really long!  I have to wonder though. There is no mention in the book that your son Nic has a history of not always telling the truth. But in his own book, We All Fall Down, he admits:  “I am a liar. It’s not exactly news. I’ve been a liar since as long as I can remember.”  I wonder if this is true, and whether you think it’s possible that his entire addiction was fabricated.

David Sheff: Addicts lie. Nic’s addiction wasn’t fabricated. I lived it and he did for 10 years.

AM: Addiction causes lying? Or lying causes addiction? I think it’s an important distinction.  Another option: underlying personality disorder stemming from early childhood causes both lying and addiction. I’ve heard talk of ‘addictive personality’. Perhaps there is something to that.

DS: I’m curious about your view. Have you had experience with addiction–your own or the addiction of someone you love?

AM: Yes actually I am addicted to ativan. I need it to sleep. I’ve been taking it for 10 years now. Every few years I take a week-long vacation from the drug. It is stressful and tiring, but when I get anxious, I just remind myself that I am withdrawing from the drug, and try to relax without panicking. I don’t actually have cravings for the drug. I believe that cravings are a consequence of the Addiction Myth (“oh no I’m getting anxious, I must be an addict, I need drugs!”).

Otherwise, I don’t know anyone who is an addict, although I have had friends who claimed to be alcoholic, who I’ve known well enough to know that they weren’t. Just lonely or tired of the bar scene.

Anyway, I know you’re busy, but your answer to the above question would be appreciated. 🙂

DS: (No response)

AM: In your new book Clean, you continue to promote the myth of addiction, attempt to legitimize it, and of course profit from it.  And yet, even Nic himself admits that he used drugs simply to feel better about himself (he was insecure about his appearance), and that he prostituted himself just to feel wanted (not to get money for drugs as he originally claimed).  The boy had a great capacity for fabrication and self-deception, which you nurtured during his childhood.  How many people do you think will die as a result of your support of the disease model of drug addiction and the brainwashing of 12 step programs that require admission of powerlessness?

DS: (No response)

AM: How many people will be allowed to avoid addressing their underlying issues, and torture their parents in existential revenge for years, because of the myth that you are peddling?

DS: (No response)

AM: When will you acknowledge your role in creating a drug addict by nurturing his “creativity” and failing to hold him accountable for lying and deception, in an attempt to be his friend instead of his parent?  When will you accept that your “Beautiful” boy might not have been so beautiful, and that is your fault, and that’s ok?

DS: (No response)

One thought on “A conversation with David Sheff, author of “Clean””

  1. Wow, you are indeed all over the charts. Just because you are ignorant of something doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.
    All the lying you do here does you absolutely no credit. Some places you say you have “no substance problems”, some places you say addiction doesn’t exist and that withdrawal doesn’t either. Yet here you say you are addicted to Ativan. So what is the truth? Whatever you desire it to be at the moment?
    Why don’t you back up a bit, take a good long look at yourself and your life and try to move on in a positive direction. One good idea might be starting to be honest. With yourself first, then try it with others.
    If you want to go off on some self appointed crusade, you will garner many more kudos and lots more respect if folks don’t immediately see you lying constantly.
    And don’t even get me started on all your imaginary “conversations” with people. Those smack of some delusional thinking which almost sounds as if it could use some professional attention.
    Clean up your act and maybe others will talk to you, and you won’t be stuck having conversations with yourself.

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