Father, writer to share addiction journey story in three suburbs

Updated 1/13/2017 11:03 AM

A parent who's been through the struggle of a child's addiction and also knows how to write about it will be making three free presentations in the Western suburbs this month as the region continues to grapple with the heroin epidemic.

David Sheff, a journalist and author of the memoir "Beautiful Boy: A Father's Journey Through His Son's Addiction," will speak Jan. 24, 25 and 26 in Carol Stream, Glendale Heights and Naperville, respectively, in presentations sponsored by the Glenbard Parent Series and the Naperville nonprofit ParentsMatterToo.


The organizations wanted local audiences to hear from Sheff because he speaks from experience and from the heart about the descent of his son, Nic, from an athlete and honor student into a crystal meth addict who lied, stole and lived on the streets. The story offers hope, says Dagmar Kauffman of ParentsMatterToo, because Nic didn't die, but went through rehab and made it into recovery.

"We thought it's really important for someone to come out to educate the community about addiction through the eyes of the parent," Kauffman said.

Organizers of Sheff's three appearances hope they will attract audiences of parents, teachers, social workers and counselors -- anyone who works with teens and sees the puzzling draw of the deadly drugs that keep attracting suburban youth.

"It's not just the general public who needs to hear about this," Kauffman said. "It's also good to support the professionals in our community who do a lot of the heavy lifting."

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Sheff, who also has written "Clean: Overcoming Addiction and Ending America's Greatest Tragedy," offers a father's perspective on early warning signs of drug addiction, denial, fear and guilty questions like "What did I do wrong?"

Sheff will begin his suburban speaking tour at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 24, at Glenbard North High School, 990 N. Kuhn Road in Carol Stream. The next day, he will present at noon at the Marquardt Elementary District 15 administration center, 1860 Glen Ellyn Road, Glendale Heights. He'll wrap up his local talks at 7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 26, at Yellow Box Community Christian Church, 1635 Emerson Lane, Naperville. Admission is free for each presentation.

"I'm hoping it's going to increase people's empathy so we can destigmatize the disease -- because it (addiction) is a disease," Kauffman said. "I'm hoping people understand that it is a chronic disease of the brain. I hope the conversation will carry forward into treatment."

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