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Beautiful Boy is a film based on the memoirs “Beautiful Boy” by David Sheff and “Tweak” by his son, Nic Sheff, following the harrowing experience of meth addiction and recovery through a father, son and family’s eyes through the years.
This film is unique in its perspective of not only following a young person through his journey of drug addiction, but in also following the perspective of his parents and family — and particularly his father — through it, as well. Families are in the best position to help a loved one struggling with substance use, though it’s often difficult to see how. See below for ways in which parents and caregivers can take action and get their child into recovery.
Beautiful Boy is in theaters Fall 2018 and stars Steve Carell, Timothée Chalamet, Maura Tierney and Amy Ryan. It’s directed by Felix Van Groeningen and produced by Jeremy Kleiner, Dede Gardner and Brad Pitt.
We’ve assembled a discussion guide to accompany the film, in the hopes that it will spark conversation about substance use, how the characters in the movie handle it, and what you might do in your own family. After viewing the film, use the questions and the resources to guide a discussion in your own family.
“People told me to 'let go' of my son, because they claimed he must 'hit bottom'. But I could never let go. Now I know that we don’t want any person who’s ill with a disease to hit bottom. We want to get them help right away."
Both David and Nic have contributed over the years to Partnership resources for parents and families. Learn about their work, and some of their perspective and advice below.
David Sheff is a journalist and author of The New York Times best-selling books “Clean: Overcoming Addiction and Ending America’s Greatest Tragedy” and the memoir “Beautiful Boy: A Father’s Journey Through His Son’s Addiction.” He’s also written for The New York Times, Rolling Stone, Playboy, Wired, Fortune, and National Public Radio (NPR)’s All Things Considered. Scott Simon of NPR said that “Beautiful Boy” made Sheff “one of the country’s most prominent voices on addiction — not as a doctor, an addict or an academic expert, but as a father.”
Read ‘When My Son Became Addicted, I Thought it Was His Problem — But Addiction is a Family Disease.’
When his son became addicted, David Sheff embarked on a journey to learn about preventing and treating this disease. He wished he knew then what he knows now.
Watch a Facebook Live with New York Times Best-Selling Author David Sheff: Advice for Parents, Caregivers and Families
In support of parents and caregivers, David Sheff answers questions from families about how to best support their loved ones as they’re struggling with substance use.
Read an Interview with David Sheff About his Book “Clean”
David Sheff discusses his exploration into the science, prevention and treatment of addiction.
Nic Sheff is the author of two memoirs about his struggles with addiction: The New York Times bestselling “Tweak: Growing Up on Methamphetamines” and “We All Fall Down: Living with Addiction.” Nic lives in Los Angeles, California where he writes for film and television.
Watch a collection of interviews and videos from David and Nic discussing the disease of addiction:
If your child or loved one is struggling with substance use or addiction, you can be an important influence in their life to help them make change. Explore our free resources below for parents and families:
Get One-on-One Help to Address Your Child’s Substance Use
Sometimes you simply need a one-on-one connection. We have trained and caring master’s-level specialists ready to help any parent struggling with a son’s or daughter’s drug or alcohol use. They are here to listen, help you find answers and make an action plan.
Get Support from Another Parent Who’s Dealt With a Child’s Addiction
Like David Sheff, many parents have been on this road before. While expert advice can and should be an important part of you seeking help for your son or daughter struggling with substance use, it can be life-changing to talk with someone who has been in your shoes. Learn about Parent Coaching.
Get Messages of Help & Hope by Text
Sign up to receive text messages directly to your phone, which will help you learn evidence-based skills and strategies to help you better communicate with your child struggling with substances, and motivate them to get the help they need.
Skills to Help Your Child and Family Heal
Lecturing often falls on deaf ears. Trying to yell and punish your child may work in the short term but likely won’t have a lasting impact. Others will advise you to use “tough love” or to detach completely and let consequences pile up so that your child will hit “rock bottom.” But there’s another way.
Self-Care Isn’t Just For Yourself
It’s normal to feel consumed by your child’s problems with substance use. But it’s vital that you take care of yourself. Here’s why.
Why “Just Experimenting” Is a Concern
We do everything we can to keep our kids safe. When it comes to teen drug use, why do so many parents shrug it off as “a rite of passage?”
If Your Child is Using, Prepare to Take Action
Is your child using drugs? Take time to prepare for the important conversation ahead, and lay the foundation for more positive outcomes.
Using Positive Reinforcement to Help Change Behavior
As a parent or caregiver you can use positive reinforcement to encourage the healthy, pro-social behaviors you want to see more of in your child.
How to Use Naloxone to Reverse Opioid Overdose and Save Lives
Naloxone (brand name Narcan) can reverse an opioid (heroin or prescription painkillers) overdose. Learn how.
Suggesting Treatment to a Loved One
Our loved ones may already be expressing a willingness to get help. Learn what to listen for and and how to respond productively.
Use the questions based on the film and the resources in this guide to help spark a conversation around addiction in your own family.