The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

Book Club

Nic Sheff tells a firsthand, candid account of addiction
Photo by Delia Brandel

Nic Sheff’s “Tweak: Growing Up On Methamphetamines” is a memoir that doesn’t shy away from the unpleasant honesties of addiction. It’s an ode and a disastrous explosion of anger and fear all in one, fraught with devastatingly truthful passages. 

My introduction to the life of Nic Sheff, an American writer and producer, began during my sophomore year of high school when my friend showed me the film “Beautiful Boy.”

I was beyond captivated by the intense, yet not uncommon narrative in which addiction imploded the lives of Nic and David Sheff.

I had never adored a film that made me feel so wholly uncomfortable. Watching “Beautiful Boy” forced me to confront the way I perceived addiction in my family members, and I think it was this discomfort that resulted in me pushing the story from my mind for a few years. 

Story continues below advertisement

I returned to the film during my senior year of high school and was once again ripped apart by it, but this time I wasn’t as offended by the way it spoke to me. No, I was fascinated by the psychology of addiction I hadn’t previously noticed in the film and wanted to know more.

Nic Sheff’s “Tweak: Growing Up On Methamphetamines” arrived in the mail a few days later. The cover was an emotional scribble of darkness, similar to the contents within. 

I grew to be obsessed with the book and tore into it whenever I could between classes, hunched in a chair in the beautiful Rock Valley College library. 

“Tweak: Growing Up On Methamphetamines” has since been one of my most cherished books, and it’s a read I will absolutely never tire of. 

One thing that makes Nic Sheff’s memoir so captivating to me is the straightforward nature in which he writes, and the daring vulnerability he presents so plainly. 

Sure, Nic Sheff includes the light, sweet moments that he shared with his little siblings and the easy love he shared with a fellow writing student. But in the recount of his experience with addiction, the gruesome, abashed details are not overshadowed by the “good.”

Put simply, Nic Sheff is not afraid to expose the ruinous nature of addiction, whether this revelation takes place through his individual memories, dialogue or his interactions with others. 

In addition to Nic Sheff’s honest writing, the timeline of this memoir entranced me while reminding me of the childlike, gentle side of Nic in his darkest, cruelest moments. 

“Tweak: Growing Up On Methamphetamines” takes place over a period of about two years and each of Nic Sheff’s relapses grows more profound as you learn more and more about the complexities that define his family and sense of self. 

This book would not be what it is without the ease with which Nic Sheff’s writing reads. His talent is apparent in the confrontational way he uses voice and his sensible, yet provocative language choices.

It is the apparent rawness of Nic Sheff’s work that sets this story apart from other memoirs about drug recovery and addiction. 

If you’re interested in giving “Tweak: Growing Up On Methamphetamines” a read, I would recommend checking out thriftbooks for a copy. 

O’Brien can be reached at [email protected]


Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

The Spectator intends for this area to be used to foster healthy, thought-provoking discussion. Comments are expected to adhere to our standards and to be respectful and constructive. As such, we do not permit the use of profanity, foul language, personal attacks or the use of language that might be interpreted as libelous. The Spectator does not allow anonymous comments and requires a valid email address. The email address will not be displayed but will be used to confirm your comments.
All The Spectator Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *