Author Nic Sheff speaking at the 20th Annual Summer Institute

The New York Times best-selling author Nic Sheff brings his experience with recovery from a substance use disorder to ASU’s 20th Annual Summer Institute 2019

By Deon Brown, ASU Class of ’85

The ASU Center for Applied Behavioral Health Policy believes that they have a moral and civic responsibility to make our world and our communities better places for everyone to live healthy lives. Promoting knowledge, identifying emerging trends and quality of care to meet the needs of the behavioral workforce is integral to being part of our community and promoting better health.

 The CABHP is also committed to influencing change. Their 20th Annual Summer Institute is on the forefront of providing networking opportunities and education for Arizona’s behavioral health professionals. The Center encourages thoughtful dialogue with nearly 400 national and local leaders, educators, researchers, counselors and professionals from all over the nation who share in this powerful four-day conference from July 16-19 in Flagstaff, Arizona. 

 The Summer Institute 2019 promises to be the most enlightening and innovative conferences they’ve hosted. ASU is pleased to announce Nic Sheff will be the keynote speaker at the CABHP Summer Institute. Sheff brings his own thoughtful insight and painful, personal experience with addiction, relapse and recovery, including how it affects the addict and others to this year’s interchange. 

First hand experiences about his descent into the maelstrom of drug addiction and eventual recovery gives author and speaker Nic Sheff, 37, a unique, special insight. His captivating personal account about dealing with addiction, recovery, and relapse, combined with his bipolar disorder, lends to Nic’s inspiring accounts about his breakthrough to sobriety and its maintenance. He offers a compassionate, contemporary, and extraordinarily personal viewpoint with an integrated understanding of chemical dependency, risk factors,  the isolation people who use drugs experience, and the resulting trauma, pain, and survival. Nic’s ability to understand and relate to people with substance use disorders is inspirational; his own story promises to add valuable perspective to the ASU CABHP Summer Institute audience of behavioral health professionals.

 Nic’s substance use started when he was 11-years-old when he began drinking vodka. A year later it was marijuana, which became a daily habit in middle school. Soon acid, ecstasy, mushrooms and cocaine were part of his polydrug use. When he was 18, crystal meth became his drug of choice. Soon, everything spiraled out of control.  

“When I was using, I had this philosophy that, well, if I wanted to kill myself with drugs, that was my business,” noted Nic. “I felt like I lived in a vacuum. Like I was the one in all this pain, so I should be able to decide whether to blot it all out with drugs or not. I had no idea whatsoever the extent of pain I was causing my family and the people that loved me.”

 In 2018, filmmaker Felix van Groeningen adapted the memoir Beautiful Boy by Nic’s father, David Sheff, into a feature film of the same name, recounting the family’s challenge to save their son from addiction. In the film, David Sheff is portrayed by Steve Carell, with Timothée Chalamet as his son, Nic.

 Sheff collaborated with his father for the book, High: everything You Want to Know about Drugs, Alcohol, and Addiction, published January, 2019. Many consider this new handbook as the ultimate resource for learning about the realities of drugs and alcohol for middle grade readers. The book also addresses what drugs look like, how they are used, what they are called, and their side effects. It also draws on the experiences of The New York Times bestselling father/son team about how to recognize drug behavior, how to understand it, and what can be done. It features honest testimonials from peers who’ve experienced substance use and families who have lived through the addiction of a loved one, along with the cold, hard facts about what drugs and alcohol do to our bodies. From how to navigate peer pressure, to outlets for stress, to the potential consequences for experimenting, Nic and David Sheff present the facts about drugs and alcohol so that middle school readers can educate themselves, giving them the tools to make better decisions. It is also a valuable handbook for family members and professionals. 

 Nic openly shares his own personal experiences and insight with others; he believes that helping people with recovery is like “putting together the puzzle” concerning the issues surrounding addiction. “We all have this one moment: NOW!” Sheff wrote in Tweak: Growing Up on Methamphetamines (2007). “Now is now. There is nothing but now … this, right here, is all there is. So my challenge is to be authentic. And I believe I am, today. I believe I am.” Tweak utilised the extensive journals Nic kept as a teenager, and helped inspire the movie, Beautiful Boy in addition to David Sheff’s own book, Beautiful Boy: A Father’s Journey Through His Son’s Addiction (2008).

 The growing awareness of the alarming growth of opioid abuse across America and its destructive effects promises to make Nic’s insightful keynote presentation, compounded with his story, an unforgettable presentation at the ASU CABHP 20th Annual Summer Institute.

 Nic Sheff is the author of two memoirs about his struggles with addiction: the New York Times bestselling Tweak: Growing Up on Methamphetamines and We All Fall Down: Living with Addiction. His writings have been published in NewsweekNerve, and the San Francisco Chronicle. He is married, with three children, and lives in Los Angeles, California where he writes for film and television.

 Summer Institute Register Here