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Nic Sheff, Author of We All Fall Down, Interview: Part 2 of 2

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Join Together sits down with Nic Sheff, author of the new memoir We All Fall Down, to discuss his personal journey of recovery from substance abuse. Nic’s 2008 bestselling memoir, Tweak, chronicles his battle with crystal meth and heroin. In 2008, while on a highly publicized book tour with his journalist father, David Sheff, author of the bestselling Beautiful Boy: A Father’s Journey Through His Son’s Addiction, Nic relapsed again. We All Fall Down explores Nic’s recent relapses and presents a young man struggling to find his own personal path to sobriety.


Join Together: “Treatment” means different things to different people.  So does “recovery.”  What do these words mean to you?

Nic: Well, I guess I’m not totally sure. When I say “treatment” I pretty much mean either inpatient or outpatient rehab. And in terms of “recovery,” well, being in recovery for me means the life long process of living completely free of drugs and alcohol—and, again, for me specifically, I’d say recovery means being in ongoing therapy and being on medication—and monitoring that medication with a doctor.

Join Together: What were your greatest challenges during early recovery? What advice would you give to individuals in early recovery?

Nic: I don’t know, early recovery is hell; really, I don’t think there’s any way around that. Basically I felt like I had totally ruined my life and I was never going to ever know even the tiniest bit of happiness again. I’m really not exaggerating either. I truly felt like my whole life was over—that the only happiness I had ever known was getting high and so I couldn’t possibly ever be happy again ever. So I guess the best advice I could give is that, well, it will get better. I mean, it will. Eventually your brain will heal itself. Your serotonin and dopamine levels will get back to normal. The world will start opening up to you. As long as you keep holding on and staying sober, anything is possible. And, from my experience, good things really will start to happen. You’ll get a job and then a better job. You’ll get a girlfriend or boyfriend. Your life will start to be truly beautiful—maybe for the first time ever. It’s true, when you stay sober—the longer you stay sober—the more the universe keeps opening up to you.

Join Together: You have had a tremendous impact on kids.  What message or messages have you found they gravitate to the most? Why do you think that is?  Do you feel like you’re speaking more to the students who are already experimenting or to those who haven’t yet tried drugs or alcohol?
 
Nic: Wow, that’s a really tough question. When I was in high school I always felt like everyone else seemed so confident and together—like they’d all been given some manual for how to live life that I’d just missed somewhere along the way. I always felt like such a total alien. And I was so insecure and full of self-hatred. But, what I didn’t know then, was that so many kids that age feel exactly the same way. It’s just that nobody talks about it. So I think it’s really cool to be able to get up in front of a bunch of high school kids and tell ‘em, “you know, I’m scared and, uh, I don’t know what the hell I’m doing.” Because, at least for me, it feels like such a relief to be able to just admit it—and to know that I’m not the only one going through this. And I know there was always a part of me that felt like I could never admit to what I was afraid of, because to admit to my fears would be to make them real, or something. If I admitted I was afraid, I would have to face my fears—and that was my biggest fear of all. But, of course, the fear of the fear is always way worse than whatever it is I’m afraid of in the first place. And when I run away from my fears, everything just gets bigger and bigger and worse and worse. So admitting it and facing it really is hugely powerful. And I think that’s a message that transcends drug abuse. I think that’s a message that a lot of young people can relate to, whether they’re using drugs or not.

To find out what other insights Nic Sheff shared with Join Together, view Part 1 of his interview.

Visit Amazon.com to read an excerpt and purchase a copy of We All Fall Down: Living with Addiction.

8 Responses to this article

  1. Avatar of Maruthy
    Maruthy / October 2, 2013 at 4:10 pm

    I am a desperate mother with an addict 25 year old son. He has a wife and a 4 years old baby girl. In jail #s times and still using heroin. Any effective support groups in Austin TX? any suggestions?

  2. Blake Leva / January 3, 2012 at 3:57 pm

    Nic,

    Also, last comment, Nic I would absolutely love for you to come to this program and speak. Its a non-profit organization in Fort Worth. You up for it? I bet you the 180 residents here would love to hear your story.

  3. Avatar of Blake Leva
    Blake Leva / January 3, 2012 at 3:48 pm

    Nic,
    If you are reading this, great. I gave you my mother’s email because currently I am in treatment at a long term behavior modification/substance abuse program located in Fort Worth, TX. I recently just read, A Million Little Pieces, The Herion Diaries and now I am currently reading Tweak. I am on page 50. Just opened it this morning. I am currently writing a memior or autobiography about my life growing up in LA and all the things I have been through in my addiction. James frey encouraged me when I read his book first and now yours is keeping me going. You’ll read it one day and think we are very similair which most of us are through our challenges in addiction. I hope this is the last stop for me. This is my 15th attempt at treatment and I’m only 29 years old, came from a magnificant family and now have a 2 year old beautiful girl. It is time for me to make things write. I am very passionate about my book that I am currently writing and discovered that writing is my nitch since I have been here at the program for 9 months now. Hopefully one day we can meet and share stories or you’ll read mine and contact me. One day at a time my friend.

  4. Avatar of Jeanne
    Jeanne / July 27, 2011 at 9:57 pm

    I am a recoverying addict I have been clean for 23 years. I was given a copy of “We All Fall Down” and I couldn’t put it down. I appreciated Nic’s honesty, and sincerety. It was great to see he had a 2nd illness and was able with his dad to get treatment for Bi-polar and was then able to stay clean.
    Good Nic, keep on keeping on!

  5. Avatar of jackie
    jackie / April 17, 2011 at 4:35 pm

    Success is a matter of vision. Do we only call it success when we have successfully reached the summit or can we give credit for the process of climbing the mountain. I want so badly to see Nic succeed. Those who have been critical fail to give him credit for his efforts, they are not wasted. For some reason he has a calling to share his story and he is doing just that. No one promised if would be pretty or have a happy ever after ending. Sometimes the best we can do, it just keep on keeping on. You are blessed with a gift Nic. Your words have the power to provide hope and inspiration, possibly a life line in a world where someone is drowning. Thank you for being courageous enough to reach out and share. I wish you many blessings on your journey. J Kluesner

  6. Avatar of Kelly Baldwin
    Kelly Baldwin / April 15, 2011 at 4:19 pm

    I am also recovering for the disease of addiction I have 4 1/2 years in recovery and am interested in your book, would you be willing to donate a copy to The Courage House, a Re-entry Housing Program I developed in my area of residence in Adams County and I am starting a book collection for our clients.
    Thank you!
    Kelly Baldwin, Chair/ Founder
    The Courage House
    Po Box 4073 Gettysburg, Pa 17325

  7. Avatar of Chris Kelly
    Chris Kelly / April 15, 2011 at 3:41 pm

    I wonder what kind of meds he is talking about, if he is on medication to support his recover I wish we knew WHAT meds?

  8. Avatar of MH
    MH / April 18, 2011 at 5:22 pm

    Chris, he mentions in the new book that he is taking medication to manage his bipolar disorder. He says that he was originally given lithium, Lamictal, and Prozac.

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