Nic Sheff was drunk for the first time at age eleven. In the years that followed, he would regularly smoke pot, do cocaine and Ecstasy, and develop addictions to crystal meth and heroin. Even so, he felt like he would always be able to quit and put his life together whenever he needed to. It took a violent relapse one summer in California to convince him otherwise. In a voice that is raw and honest, Nic spares no detail in telling us the compelling, heartbreaking, and true story of his relapse and the road to recovery. As we watch Nic plunge the mental and physical depths of drug addiction, he paints a picture for us of a person at odds with his past, with his family, with his substances, and with himself. It’s a harrowing portrait — but not one without hope.

The Phoenix’s Perspective

I have read many books (both fiction and non-fiction) that center on the subject of drug and alcohol abuse and they generally follow the same storyline. The main character suffers an event in life that slowly begins eating at them inside. They turn to drugs and alcohol to help ease the struggle and a black hole develops that swallows them whole.  Most never make it back and those that do are forever changed by it.

Tweak was nothing like this. It was a refreshing new look at life as a drug addict. Now, don’t get me wrong, there is a big portion of Nic Sheff’s story that follows the same “pattern” as most books of this genre, but it is his overall story, the bigger picture if you will, that is different and somewhat inspiring.

Sheff gets into the nitty-gritty of what life is like when under the influence of drugs. This idea of being in control is just that – an idea. Nothing controls your life but the drugs that are necessary — no matter what you have to do to get them.

More importantly, Sheff also gives us a look at the nitty-gritty of getting sober. We have all heard (or seen) before the difficulties of getting off drugs because your body begins to shut down and reject anything else other than the drug it craves. But there is so much more to it than that.  Once clean, your life is always dangling not too far above a knife —- teeter tottering between living life and falling back into that black abyss of no control.

Getting clean is the easy part. Staying clean is what’s tough. Anything can put you back on the destructive path and it is harder every time to find your way back.  As difficult as that may sound, that is the reality of living life as an addict.  The addiction never goes away.  Your ability to control it simply becomes better.  That I think is what I enjoyed most about this book.  All the others that I have read have either had the main character end up dead or miraculously find themselves and their way out for good.  Although both of those outcomes are possible (potentially the first more than the second), I think the truest outcome for the majority of addicts is the constant battle.  A battle they must fight against themselves and the addiction every day — a battle for control.

Would I add it to the library?

I also want to read We All Fall Down: Living with Addiction, which is the follow-up to Tweak. In it, Sheff gives a look at life trying to stay clean – rehab centers, relapses and many realizations of what living with addiction means.


Genre: Nonfiction – biography, substance abuse, drug addicts
ISBN: 9781416972198
Rating:  good

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