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We All Fall Down: Living with Addiction

We All Fall Down: Living with Addiction

4.3 39
by Nic Sheff

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In his bestselling memoir Tweak, Nic Sheff took readers on an emotionally gripping roller-coaster ride through his days as a crystal meth and heroin addict. Now in this powerful follow-up about his continued efforts to stay clean, Nic writes candidly about eye-opening stays at rehab centers, devastating relapses, and hard-won realizations about what it means to


In his bestselling memoir Tweak, Nic Sheff took readers on an emotionally gripping roller-coaster ride through his days as a crystal meth and heroin addict. Now in this powerful follow-up about his continued efforts to stay clean, Nic writes candidly about eye-opening stays at rehab centers, devastating relapses, and hard-won realizations about what it means to be a young person living with addiction.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The author's second memoir begins with Sheff in an Arizona rehabilitation center after relapsing into drug use in 2005, while he was writing Tweak. After he is expelled for having a relationship with another patient, Sue Ellen, he moves in with her and attempts to stay sober, but his addictive behavior continues (he develops a brief, intense alcohol problem, snorts cocaine, steals his mother's medication, and relies on marijuana). While on tour for Tweak, Sheff feels like "a phony—a goddamn liar," since he still has to smoke marijuana to face life. The present-tense storytelling and Sheff's authentic voice will keep readers engaged, even when it's unclear where his story is going. He presents visceral images of both the gritty details of an addict's life and the desperation of a life of sobriety (" 'Cause really, what life is there to live? Working this dead-end job? Eating takeout with Sue Ellen?"). Saying a traditional 12-step approach "doesn't work for me," Sheff doesn't provide simple answers—or any answers, really—but readers will respect his ability to move forward "at my own pace." Ages 15–up. (Apr.)
Mary Karr
"Nic Sheff captures the insidious, almost vampiric mind-set of an addict who shrinks from any form of light. This book has more in common with Kafka than any recovery memoir I've read."
Rachel Sontag
"Sheff's journey, like his writing, is raw and compelling, heartbreaking and witty. An honest and gracious reflection about the challenges of recovery."
From the Publisher
"Nic Sheff captures the insidious, almost vampiric mind-set of an addict who shrinks from any form of light. This book has more in common with Kafka than any recovery memoir I've read."—Mary Karr, New York Times bestselling author of Lit and The Liars' Club

"Sheff's journey, like his writing, is raw and compelling, heartbreaking and witty. An honest and gracious reflection about the challenges of recovery."—Rachel Sontag, author of House Rules: A Memoir

School Library Journal
Gr 11 Up—In this follow-up to his debut novel Tweak (S & S, 2007), Sheff, a recovering meth addict, recounts his time in various drug rehabilitation facilities. The memoir also recounts his budding relationship with Sue Ellen and subsequent relapse back into drug use and alcoholism. Sheff is an unreliable narrator. He is constantly contradicting himself, vilifying the vaunted 12-step program and then later admitting that some elements of it work for him. He seems highly critical of rehabs and their staffs yet recognizes that they are working to try and make him better. His skewed worldview makes him difficult to relate to, but his honest and uncompromising ability to relate his emotional state makes him a tragic and eventually redeemable figure.—Ryan Donovan, New York Public Library
Kirkus Reviews
In a raw, honest and expletive-ridden narrative, 23-year-old Sheff effectively chronicles the ups and downs of trying to overcome his methamphetamine addiction and pull his life together. Fortunately, the author is not as whiny or narcissistic in this memoir as he was in his first, Tweak (2008), though he still manages to be quite unlikable and astonishingly unsympathetic. Sheff bounces in and out of two detox centers and impulsively into an ill-considered live-in relationship with a girl in Charleston, S.C. (A disclaimer at the beginning indicates that "[c]ertain names, locations, and identifying characteristics have been changed.") His good intentions are frequently thwarted by bad decisions. Frustration with a dead-end job in a coffee shop leads him to chronic alcohol consumption and pot smoking, once more testing the patience of loved ones. His frequent bouts of self-pity and rationalization, along with the constant use of "fucking" and "goddamn," quickly become tiresome. The author is forthright about the hypocrisy he feels when he speaks at schools about the dangers of drug abuse while still smoking pot daily. When he declares, "I am an asshole," it's impossible to disagree. He manages to end on a somewhat hopeful note: "I've got to hold on, is all," he says. It's painfully honest—but also painful to read, likely guaranteeing avid teen interest. (Memoir. 15 & up)

Product Details

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.54(w) x 8.04(h) x 1.07(d)
Age Range:
15 - 18 Years

Read an Excerpt

We All Fall Down

Living with Addiction
By Sheff, Nic

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Copyright © 2011 Sheff, Nic
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780316080828

Part 1



She hasn’t called.

I mean, I haven’t called her either, but still—she hasn’t called and I know it’s over.

I know she’s not gonna wait for me.

I know it.

She hasn’t called.

The only reason I can figure is that she’s afraid of telling me—afraid of what I’ll do.

But I haven’t called her either.

At least this way I can still pretend it’s my choice.

Besides, I know leaving her is the only option I have. Practically all the therapists in this whole goddamn place have made it their personal mission to convince me she’s nothing but poison for me—that what we have together isn’t really love—that she’s been using me—that I’ve been using her.

I fought it at first.

I fought it real hard.

But I can’t deny it anymore.

I know the truth.

Even if I still can’t give her up.

Even if I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to.

Being with her is the only thing that’s ever made me feel good about myself.

The fact that she chose me. I mean, Christ, she could’ve had anybody—fucking anybody.

And who am I?



She’s everything that I’m not—everything I’ve always wanted to be.

She’s just so cool, you know?

So fucking cool.

The way she talks, dresses, carries herself—her experiences—her beauty—how much older she is than me—how goddamn funny she is.

I admire everything that she is. Her famous ex-husband. Her famous family. Her charisma. The way every goddamn head turns when she walks into a room.

The first time I saw her—that first moment—I had to go talk to her.

I never do that.

Especially at a fucking twelve-step meeting in West Hollywood.

Being with her, I felt important—beautiful, for the first time ever.

She introduced me to her friends, family.

People in LA knew our story.

I finally had an identity, and I needed to hold on to that.

So we planned on getting married.

I made payments on a goddamn ring.

We made love all morning—all night—all afternoon.

We never wanted to get out of bed.

She told me her secrets. She gave me her past.

But then, well, then we went down.

Relapsing—shooting heroin, cocaine, crystal—popping pills till we couldn’t even feel them anymore—smoking crack. We sold our clothes, books, CDs for drugs. We fought—yelled—screamed at each other. I felt her fingernails dig into my face—tearing. I ran to get away as she bit down hard at the bridge of my nose, pounding her fists into me—accusing me of hiding drugs under the tiles in the bathroom floor.

We stayed locked in our apartment.

I went into convulsions shooting cocaine.

My arm swelled up with an abscess the size of a baseball.

My body stopped producing stool, so I had to reach up inside with a gloved hand and pull out solid pieces of excrement the size and density of goddamn hockey pucks.

We both lost most everything we had—our relationships with our families, the respect of our friends.

And then I tried to steal a computer from my mom’s house. The cops showed up, and I was faced with the choice, you know: detox or jail.

I chose detox.

But my family was determined to get me away from her, so they shipped me out here to Arizona.

She went into UCLA’s county program, and then the owner of the old sober living we’d both been at allowed her to come back for free.

That was over a month ago—three days before Thanksgiving, to be exact.

And at first, you know, we talked all the time.

Her detox was even worse than mine, and my detox was the worst hell I hope I’ll ever have to know.

But I’m twenty-three—my body’s still pretty young.

She’s almost forty, and her body just couldn’t take it.

First two major seizures landed her back in the hospital, and then they discovered she had gallstones, which had to be removed.

She was sick, fucking sick.

But I talked to her every day, borrowing people’s calling cards so I could dial out on the one phone they had set up for us in a little enclosed room off the kitchen.

I’d sit in the wooden office chair that rocked back and forth, listening to the static hum of the space heater and my love’s sweet, sweet voice. I’d have to close all the blinds ’cause I’d be crying so much—my body still vibrating with tremors from my own detox—freezing—always freezing, in spite of the space heater and the jackets and sweaters I’d borrowed from my roommate ’cause I had almost no clothes of my own.

She would tell me she loved me. We’d make plans for when I’d be able to get back to LA.

But then one morning before group, I called and things were different.

It was her voice—vacant-sounding, the sweet seductiveness gone.

I told her I loved her.

She said she didn’t even know what that meant anymore.

My stomach went all tight suddenly—twisted up—knotted—the pressure building like I’d been swept down, down into the deepest ocean.

I called everyone I knew, asking for money to help me get back to LA to be with her. No one would even speak to me. I guess I’d used up every last favor from every last person in my life.

At one point I even thought about hitchhiking.

But, honestly, I’m still too weak.

And, besides, I know damn well she’s not gonna fight for me anymore.

I mean, at one point she would’ve.

At one point she actually believed in me.

Before we relapsed, I’d been offered a book deal to write a memoir about my life. I’d finished half the manuscript, and I’d received nothing but positive feedback. I’m pretty sure she saw success in my future. Hell, maybe that’s why she stayed with me.

But now I’ve lost all that. The book is on hold. Actually, I may have blown the whole thing completely. I have no money—no place to live—no car—no cell phone—nothing. My only prospect of getting out of here is to go into sober living and start working some shit-ass minimum-wage job. I’m just not glamorous enough for her anymore. She’ll find someone else—someone with money—someone in the entertainment industry who can open doors for her.

I know how she works. I know her so goddamn well.

We explored each other fully.

Physically and otherwise.

There was a time making love, locked in our goddamn apartment, where she lay on her back. Without really thinking about it, I began rotating my body, fucking her from every angle until I was facing completely away from her, and then back around the other side.

Goddamn, I still want her so much.

She can’t be the one to leave me.

She just can’t.

So I will leave her.

I won’t call her—not ever again.

It’s over.

I’m gonna start telling people today.

I mean, I’m gonna go do it right now.

So I walk up to the smoke pit.

It’s been over a month of this shit already.

It’s time to end it.


Excerpted from We All Fall Down by Sheff, Nic Copyright © 2011 by Sheff, Nic. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Nic currently lives in Los Angeles.

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We All Fall Down: Living with Addiction 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 38 reviews.
North_Of_Nowhere More than 1 year ago
We all fall down was a book that was really well written. I really enjoyed reading it. There was no boring parts in it and i could not put it down. His story and his life moved me. It makes me belive in myself and lets me know that if i never get up i can get through thing and do anything. Nic Sheff had a really tough life being drug addicted but he never gave up no matter how hard and rough his life got. He may have struggled and didnt always to what was right but deep down he wanted to change and stuck to it. His father was always there to support him. I would recommended this book.
ReadersFavorite More than 1 year ago
Reviewed by Laurie Gray for Readers Favorite “We All Fall Down” by Nic Sheff picks up where Sheff’s New York Times bestselling memoir “Tweak” left off. “Tweak” leaves Sheff having completed treatment, writing his memoir, and living a rather tedious life of sobriety in Savannah with a friend and two cats. In “We All Fall Down,” Sheff says that he walked out of treatment and was living with his girlfriend and a dog in Charleston, getting drunk and/or stoned every day while writing “Tweak.” 'Sober' for Sheff means no longer doing meth or heroin, and only doing cocaine when a dealer gives him a free sample. “We All Fall Down” chronicles Sheff’s continued struggle with addiction and quest to publish “Tweak.” Like “Tweak,” “We All Fall Down” begins with a disclaimer: “This work is a memoir. It reflects the author’s present recollections of his experience over a period of years. Certain names, locations, and identifying characteristics have been changed.” Sheff is a gifted storyteller. His reality is raw, profane, and unencumbered by facts. Readers (or audio listeners) are dropped directly into the psyche of a veteran addict, a paradox of self-loathing and narcissism. The frightening allure of drugs permeates every word and could easily trigger relapse in recovering addicts or entice curious teenagers. And the sad truth is that most teens and addicts will never have as many opportunities for recovery as Nic Sheff has had. Those who follow his path are more likely to end up in prison or dead. I highly recommend this book for treatment providers and adults who are dealing with addicts, but have never experienced personally how insidious addiction can be. Sheff exposes a disturbing truth, not just through the lies he continues to tell himself, but about the lies we all tell ourselves.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Excellent book. Easy to follow. Must read
Crayon12 More than 1 year ago
Nic does a very good job showing what he has to deal with and what he is dealing with. His first book Tweak was also very good.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Insightful and hhonest
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hauntingly written. Nic tells his story with openness and heartbreakng clarity. i often found myself crying for this wounded heart who never gave up, proving the tenacity of the spirit. Recommmend
Jack_H123 More than 1 year ago
Nic Scheff shows in his novel, We All Fall Down, that he has the talent of a wordsmith to be reckoned with. The brutally honest autobiography takes you through the journey of an addict. It accounts for remarkable recoveries, caustic relapses and, most importantly, the process of getting back up. Having had similar struggles in my life, I felt as though I was right with Nic as this was happening. Part of the memoir that I enjoy the most is the fact that you grow to love and care about Nic as the story goes on. In cessation, We All Fall Down is a book I recommend to everyone. Addict or otherwise
AlwaysReading321 More than 1 year ago
He has been through a lot, and hope the best luck for him at the ending ( hopefully the happy ending lasts longer). It kinda remind me of my best friend who fell in the addicts, but it was not the meth, it was the cocaine. She is currently living in the shelter, and struggling to improve herself. Painful to watch how she goes with her life, but the lessons she has to take. Same thing for Nic Sheff with the hard lessons and the good opportunity is waiting at the end.
Hope23 More than 1 year ago
I read Tweak and I couldn't put it down. This book was just as brilliant. In both books I felt like I was Nic's friend, worrying when I thought he was making a mistake and joyous when he overcame certain obstacles in his life. In my opinion...great book for anyone in recovery or suffering from addiction.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read tweak when i was in rehab for meth, it was such a great book, when i got out i baught this book it is so intense also just as good if not betterr than the first sequel (:!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
After reading TWEAK and loving it, I was annoyed by Nic in this follow-up.
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Very realistic....couldnt put it down
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Amazzing,vivid story
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