A Fly In the Ointment: A New Perspective on Addiction

By Nic Sheff October 26,2011

After years of speaking about addiction, a fascinating new study has radically altered my perception of this disease. It’s all about drunk flies.

It’s been four years since my memoir, Tweak—and my dad’s memoir, Beautiful Boy—were published in the same month. Shortly afterwards, the two of us went on a national book tour. Since then, we’ve traveled to hundreds of conventions and fundraisers and schools—sharing the hard lessons we’ve learned about addiction and recovery and…well…life in general.

That means we’ve had to listen to eachother’s experiences close to 50,000 times. And while our stories always evolve and shift slightly each time we recount them, for the most part they remain unchanged. Recently I’ve found myself daydreaming as I sat in the audience listening to my dad share his half of our tortured tale. To be honest, I’ve even started daydreaming while I’m sharing my own story. I mean, it’s the same thing, over and over and over again—the same stories, the same ideas, the same jokes, the same tears.

Once an addict is an addict, whether it’s a human being or a fly, getting high is the only thing that matters.

But last week, when we showed up for a speaking [...] continue the story

Shutting the Door on My Coked-Up Past

By Sam Lansky August 5, 2011

While my dad was recovering from a massive heart attack, I was on a coke run. Since then, I’ve tried to become a better son, while still struggling to shut the door on memories I want to forget.

I’ve been sober for several years now. But once a month, or maybe even more frequently, my past sneaks up on me and reminds me of the person I used to be. Always, I carry with me a low-level simmering anxiety, a flame that flickers now and again—when a man on the street looks familiar (didn’t I steal pills from that guy?), or when I’m walking down a side street somewhere in Hell’s Kitchen and suddenly remember stumbling down the block in a drunken stupor—but some fires burn brighter than others. Though I have made my amends, there remain transgressions that are unfixable, regardless of whatever 12-step dogma says about not regretting the past or wishing to shut the door on it. I regret many things in my past; I would shut the door on it if I could; and I am wary of the rhetoric of regretlessness that is so pervasive in recovery circles. “I wouldn’t take any [...] continue the story