Tweak by Nic Sheff

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Methamphetamine is an amphetamine drug ("uppers" or drugs that stimulate and make you excited) that is spreading rapidly across the US and other parts of the world and causes severe problems for addicts, their families, and societies. Not many people survive their journey with "crystal," as it can cause death the first time it is used.

Nic Sheff has (as well as addictions to heroin, alcohol, and prescription drugs), and his tale of rapid descent followed by finally coming out is gripping, sometimes forcing you to ask, "How could this be nonfiction?"

From the very beginning, you fall straight into the action. Nic has relapsed (yet again) and is currently living on the streets of San Francisco, pairing up with a fellow addict to score and deal meth. From here, it's hazy roller-coaster ride of stealing, deceit, theft, and his ever-increasing need for more drugs.

"Tweak" is a unique memoir because although Nic gives us a brief background of how he came to this point, his addiction has a much more powerful impact if you have also read "Beautiful Boy" by David Sheff, Nic's father, who gives more (and clearer) information about Nic's childhood, early days of using and his subsequent attempts at treatment. It's also an agonizing look into a family's struggle with a disease in someone they love that they didn't cause, can't control and can't cure, but is destroying them utterly. Because the two sides of the story overlap each other somewhat, it's a fully three-dimensional portrait of this unique struggle--and that makes it so much more engaging to read.

Some of the things Nic confesses to made me very angry (such as when he stole $8 from his younger brother), while others made me feel great pain for him (as when he tells of his being forced to prostitute himself in order to get drugs), but throughout it all, he never gets preachy or overly self-pitying. When he's clean and sober, Nic is a sensitive, caring, loving person who is deeply insecure and just wants to do things right. I found myself rooting for him the whole time I read, cheering when he triumphed, sighing when he relapsed.

He also refuses to glamorize drug use, letting us into every little pain that goes with it with simple straightforward words, such as infected wounds, severe emaciation, and hallucinations caused by extended, unbroken meth use ("tweaking").

"Tweak" is an edgy read that grabs you in the first few paragraphs and refuses to let go until you reach the end. Keep a flashlight handy in case it tempts you to keep reading long into the night.





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