“Beautiful Boy” gives drug addiction a familiar face


Nora Knows by J1 reporter Nora Fitzsimmons

  My dad and I walked out of the theater after seeing “Beautiful Boy. I didn’t say a word, because I was trying to process what I had just seen. We didn’t speak until we got to my dad’s car, when he finally broke the silence by saying, “Can you believe that used to be me?” I couldn’t. “Beautiful Boy” had presented drug addiction in a way I had never seen before. It made addiction personal.

   In “Beautiful Boy” the main character, Nic Sheff, gets caught up in the world of opioid abuse. He isn’t a grimy, evil fiend itching for the next hit, instead he’s introduced as the average young adult. He’s someone trying to make it in college and figure out his life. He’s a good brother and he used to be a good son, until addiction controlled him. Nic also isn’t a made up character; he is based off of the real story of a real person named Nic Sheff.

    It’s details like this that offer a depth to drug addiction that goes beyond the statistics we see at monotonous lectures about what drugs do to your brain. “Beautiful Boy” shows that addiction doesn’t have an easy cure. Nic fell in and out of rehab constantly relapsing, which mirrors my dad’s past struggle with addiction. My dad was first checked into rehab when he was only 17 years old. He told me that he got “trapped in the cycle of using, getting into trouble, trying to control it, and then starting the cycle all over again,” just like Nic had.

    The film also focuses on how Nic’s addiction erodes his relationship with his father, David Sheff, until it’s close to oblivion. This displays yet another unspoken truth of how addiction has the ability to transform someone. Drug addiction affected relationships for both Nic and my dad. Most importantly those relationships with the people closest to them. David has to watch his own son harm his body with toxic drugs, just as people close to my dad saw him do the same. David and my dad were just trying to find a solution to fix something inside of themselves they didn’t like, but they harmed the people they cared about most in the process. Beautiful Boy makes drug addiction real, because it proves that being able to see yourself or others as a drug addict like Nic is scarier than any empty statistic or diagram.

Have a similar or contrasting view? Let us know!  Leave a comment or email the opinion writer at 20.fitzsimmons.nora@omahamarian.org

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