It’s Oscar Time: Victories, Memories and Fighting for Success

Oscar night is a special time each year when those working in the entertainment film industry, and their fans worldwide, gather to watch and applaud Academy Award winners and nominees. With so many deserving candidates, memorable storylines and hard work going into each film, it’s difficult to decide who gets a trophy.

Going to the movies often played a special role in my life and I enjoy watching films with my family.

I recall the night before my then 20-year-old son entered his first 28-day residential treatment program for his struggles with opioids. We were many miles from home, and honestly, I could not recall what movie we saw, until just now. It didn’t matter, anyway. It only mattered that he was safe, and we were together. Much of that time is a blur today, so much so, that I had had to ask my son to remind me that we watched Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, which was an Academy Award winner for Best Cinematography. It is a story about a captain of a ship that pushes his ship and crew to their limits during a war. In hindsight, that film may represent some of the battles parents face today, when trying to navigate the rough seas of securing long-term quality treatment for their children, while their family is stressed and pushed to their limits.

During another slightly less stressful time, we were also far from home. My youngest son, who first entered treatment at 16 years old, was also in treatment to address his struggles with opioids. My oldest son was doing better; he was back in college, but not completely out of the woods yet. It was Christmas day when we exchanged a few small gifts in a tiny hotel room that my family shared. Christmas Eve dinner was food purchased at a gas station convenience store that we later microwaved in our room. Nothing was open on Christmas Day, except an old movie theater, so we were off to watch ‘Meet the Fockers.’ My wife and I were just very grateful our family was together – in many ways it was the best Christmas ever!

Ever since then, movies have been an escape for me. Not exactly the best self-care, because of all the popcorn and junk food I’d usually eat, I know. However, sitting in a movie theater did became a regular escape for me that I’ve enjoyed to this day.

And that brings me back to two amazing films that I’ve seen recently – Beautiful Boy and Ben is Back – two very special films that have resonated with me and that I will watch again.

Both are award winners in so many categories as far as I’m concerned. But full disclosure and fair warning, I admit to closing my eyes during a few moments that were too hard for me to watch. These films are powerful stories of love, family, bravery, compassion, resistance, and persistence – real-world stories from which no family or community is immune. Both films show how difficult and unfair struggles with substance use disorder can be; how quickly things can shift from parents believing they have no control over a situation to next realizing that by staying engaged we can help so much.

Our words and actions can open doors for our loved one. By staying engaged, we can often encourage and motivate them to realize that they do want to change. By helping motivate them to seek help and stay in treatment, we can support them in building a life that’s meaningful to them. Today my sons are doing so well, my oldest is in recovery for over 8 years and my youngest for 11 years. I could not be more proud of them.

As we continue learning and trying new approaches, we can create more opportunities to help save lives and help our families heal. I believe these two films are destined to be remembered and discussed for decades; helping to remove the stigma that still blocks too many of us from seeking help early and often enough.

I certainly enjoy my escapes to the movies – thank you Hollywood. I’m grateful that Beautiful Boy and Ben is Back are bringing attention to such important issues and that all states continue to focus their efforts on helping families. Lastly, my heart-felt prayers and best wishes to all of those beautiful boys and girls who are still struggling – together, let’s keep trying to bring all of our loved ones back home.

Get the Beautiful Boy Discussion Guide

Based on the memoirs “Beautiful Boy” by David Sheff, and “Tweak” by his son, Nic Sheff, the film follows the harrowing experience of meth addiction and recovery through a father’s and family’s eyes.

After viewing the film, use the questions and the resources to guide a conversation in your own family.

beautiful boy film discussion guide

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