David Sheff

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Biography

Renowned journalist David Sheff is the author of Beautiful Boy: A Father’s Journey through His Son’s Addiction, the book that has topped the New York Times non-fiction bestseller list. In it, he tells the story of his harrowing struggle to help his son Nic overcome his methamphetamine addiction from the father’s and family’s point of view. Through Beautiful Boy, he brings immediacy to the emotional rollercoaster of loving a child who seems beyond your help. Beautiful Boy, a #1 New York Times bestseller, was named Best Nonfiction Book of 2008 by Entertainment Weekly and won the 2009 Barnes and Noble Discover Award in nonfiction. For his work in the field of addiction, in 2009 Sheff was named to the Time 100, Time magazine's list of the world's most influential people.

The book is based on Sheff’s article “My Addicted Son,” which appeared in the New York Times Magazine. It won a special award for Outstanding Contribution to Advancing the Understanding of Addictions from the American Psychological Association and inspired (and continues to inspire) hundreds of letters from readers, many of whom are suffering from addiction or the addiction of a loved one. His continues to research and writing about this subject and most recently contributed to the HBO book Addiction: Why Can’t They Just Stop. He is currently working on the forthcoming book, The Thirteenth Step, presenting a new approach toward preventing drug use and treating addiction.

Along with The New York Times Magazine, Sheff, a contributing editor to Playboy, has also written for The New York Times, Wired, Fortune, Rolling Stone, Outside, The Los Angeles Times Magazine, Esquire and Observer Magazine in England, Foreign Literature in Russia, and Playboy (Shueisha) in Japan. He has conducted seminal interviews with John Lennon and Yoko Ono, nuclear physicist Ted Taylor, Congressman Barney Frank, Steve Jobs, Ansel Adams, Thomas Friedman, the founders of Google, Tom Hanks, Betty Friedan, Keith Haring, Jack Nicholson, Carl Sagan, Larry Ellison, Salman Rushdie, and others. He also wrote an award-winning documentary about John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath and a radio special about Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, both for National Public Radio, and wrote and edited Heart Play: Unfinished Dialogue, which won a Grammy Award nomination for Best Spoken Word Recording of 1984.

Sheff is the author of Game Over, called “the bible of the videogame industry,” by The Wall Street Journal that also earned great praised from Time, Newsweek, Fortune, Forbes, USA Today, and The New York Review of Books. He is also the author of the book China Dawn about the Internet revolution in China that has been described in the Wall Street Journal as “the story of an insurgency, and a momentous one.” All We Are Saying, based on Sheff’s interviews with John Lennon and Yoko Ono in 1980, was a Literary Guild Selection book. The Times called it, "A fascinating, detailed glimpse into the workings of a musical genius” and People said it was “the most revealing portrait of John Lennon’s career.

Speaking Topics

Addiction in the Family? You're Not Alone
Realizing the fact that killing himself would not just affect his own life, that it would affect his father David Sheff, and others that loved him, helped bring Nic Sheff back from his suffering, drug-abused state. What also helped Nic cope with his demons was the knowledge that others had suffered and do suffer just like him. His book Tweak testifies to young people going through similar life struggles that they are not alone. By sharing his harrowing, yet inspirational story, he emphasizes that those that suffer from addiction do not suffer in a vacuum -- somebody out there loves them and are worth living for.

Letting Go: A Father's Journey Through His Son's Addiction
Addicts don't stop caring about the people they love, but as addiction takes over a person, all they can think about is getting the drugs into their system, while the people that care for them feel they are unable to help. In his powerful presentation, David Sheff shares the story of his son Nic's addition and the impact it has had on their family. Through his New York Times best-selling book, A Beautiful Boy: a Father’s Journey through His Son’s Addiction, and his son Nic’s bestseller, Tweak: Growing up on Methamphetamines, they tell the story from both sides of addiction.

What We Do & Don't Know About Treatment: Making Informed Choices When Confronting Addiction
In this keynote presentation, David Sheff, author of the best-selling A Beautiful Boy: A Father's Journey through His Son's Addiction, bridges the gap between the new science, traditional techniques, and personal responsibilities involved in addiction treatment.

Sheff combines the science of addiction treatment with real world experiences to provide audiences with useful strategies and an essential understanding of those who enter treatment. Breaking away from traditional programs such as 12-step, he acknowledges that some treatments may work for many, but do not work for all. In a close examination of addiction therapy, as well as the latest addiction medicines, Sheff explores how drugs work on the brain and how we can better treat addicts.

Prevention: What Works & What Doesn’t
Having devoted recent research to exploring the topic of prevention, Sheff is at the forefront of what has become a main focus when addressing addiction. The basis for his forthcoming book, The Thirteenth Step, his findings look at the driving cause behind addictive behaviors, noting that most drug and alcohol use isn’t about the drugs and alcohol, but rather about life. In understanding that, we can finally find an effective way forward in successfully preventing addiction.

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