Julie's Reviews > Tweak: Growing Up On Methamphetamines

Tweak by Nic Sheff
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's review
Sep 16, 2008

it was ok
bookshelves: biography-or-memoir, young-adult, 2008, from-library
Read in October, 2008 , read count: 1

Tweak is a tale of addiction describing the experiences of Nic Sheff, who was for many years addicted to various drugs (meth and heroin to begin with, later coke and various prescription medications). This book was actually written in response to a book by David Sheff called Beautiful Boy, about the experience of dealing with his son's addiction(s) and their consequences for his family.

The first third of Tweak is a demonstration of the kind of depraved lifestyle Nic's addiction leads to—a study of how quickly an addict can move down the downward spiral to the point where he or she will do absolutely anything for drugs, or money for drugs. Stealing (even from family members), prostitution, selling more drugs... nothing is out of the question.

In this book, Nic repeatedly addresses the question of how far a person can sink before they realize they need to climb out of the hole. Sheff enters rehab multiple times, but for various reasons relapses into heavy drug use despite a few near-death occurrences and an absolutely unsustainable lifestyle.

Each time he tries to climb back to reality, Sheff reaches out to his family and close friends, but not surprisingly, after several times of hearing the same song the relationships become more and more tenuous and even family members stop believing that he will remain sober.

I have to say: at the beginning of the book, I was expecting to get more insight into Sheff's behavior and to gain an understanding of (and therefore sympathy for) his choices and lifestyle. This didn't happen. First off, I was truly shocked at just how depraved and desperate his lifestyle became each time he descended into the depths of heavy usage. Friendships and family ties meant nothing, except as a means of gaining money to fuel the drug habit.

Second, I became increasingly irritated at how many chances he had to pull himself out of the mess, or at least TRY to pull himself out, or had even GOTTEN out and chose so easily to return... I really do think that he behaved in an entirely self-centered, self-destructive way, completely refusing to open his eyes to the truths around him. I guess that's the point, really—that the drugs were a side effect of depressing truths in his life that he was too afraid to acknowledge. Still, I completely understand how after the first few times of listening to him go on about how his life had changed, etc., they would stop believing that he would stay sober. I'm not sure I even believe it now.

I guess that I am glad I read Tweak, if only to open my eyes a bit to just how bad an addiction can be, how strongly deep-seated insecurities and unresolved issues can affect the addition, and how difficult it is to bring oneself out of the cycle; but overall, it frustrated me too much for me to really enjoy it.
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