David Sheff

David Sheff (born 1955) is an American author of the books Beautiful Boy: A Father's Journey Through His Son's Addiction, Clean: Overcoming Addiction and Ending America's Greatest Tragedy and All We Are Saying: The Last Interview with John Lennon and Yoko Ono. In 2009, Sheff was included in Time Magazine's Time 100, The World's Most Influential People,[2] and Beautiful Boy was named the best nonfiction book of the year by Entertainment Weekly. The book also won the Barnes & Noble "Discover Great New Writers Award"[3] for nonfiction and was an Amazon Best Book of the Year (2008). He received media awards from College of Problems on Drug Dependence (CPDD), American Society of Addiction Medicine, The Partnership for Drug-free Kids, College of Problems on Drug Dependence (CPDD), American College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ACNP), American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM), and was the first recipient of the American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry (AAAP) Arts and Literature Award.

David Sheff
Born1955 (age 64–65)[1]
Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.
EducationUniversity of California, Berkeley
Notable works

All We Are Saying: The Last Interview with John Lennon and Yoko Ono'
Game Over

SpouseKaren Barbour

Early life and educationEdit

Sheff is originally from Boston, Massachusetts.[4] His family is of Russian Jewish descent.[5] He graduated from the University of California, Berkeley.[4]


Sheff, a journalist, has written for The New York Times, Rolling Stone, Playboy, Wired, Fortune, and National Public Radio's All Things Considered. His interview subjects have included John Lennon, Frank Zappa, Steve Jobs, Ai Weiwei, Keith Haring, David Hockney, Jack Nicholson, Ted Taylor, Carl Sagan, Betty Friedan, Barney Frank, and Fareed Zakaria, among others. In addition to Beautiful Boy, Sheff wrote the books Game Over, China Dawn, and All We Are Saying: The Last Major Interview with John Lennon and Yoko Ono. He has also been an editor of New West, California, and other magazines.[4]

Beautiful Boy was based on Sheff's article, "My Addicted Son," that first appeared in the New York Times Magazine. The article won an award for "Outstanding Contribution to Advancing the Understanding of Addictions" from the American Psychological Association.

In January 2019, HIGH: Everything You Want to Know About Drugs, Alcohol, and Addiction, was published. A resource for middle-school readers offering clear, direct information about the realities of drugs and alcohol, it is Sheff and his son Nic's first collaborative project.[6]

In 2019, Sheff founded The Beautiful Boy Fund, a charity devoted to making quality, evidence-based treatment for substance-use disorder accessible to those in need of treatment, and identifying and supporting research to further the field of addiction medicine.

Views on addictionEdit

Sheff educates about addiction as a brain disease and is an advocate for putting addicts into therapy programs early.[7][8]

He believes life stresses and traumas are risk factors, and that therapy for these can help addiction prevention.[8] He is an advocate of life skills training to aid addiction prevention.[9][10]

Personal lifeEdit

Sheff is on the advisory boards of the Jed and Clinton Health Matters Campus Program "designed to help colleges and universities promote emotional well-being and mental health programming, reduce substance abuse and prevent suicide" among their students.[11] He is also an honorary board member with the International Bipolar Foundation.[12]

Sheff lives in Northern California with his wife, Karen Barbour, an artist, illustrator, and author of children's books. He has three children: Nic, Jasper, and Daisy Sheff. Nic Sheff has also written a memoir recounting his years of addiction in the book Tweak: Growing Up on Methamphetamines.[13]

In popular cultureEdit

In 2018, Felix van Groeningen adapted Sheff's book Beautiful Boy into a feature film of the same name. In the film, Sheff is portrayed by Steve Carell, with Timothée Chalamet as his son, Nic. Actress Maura Tierney portrays David's wife, artist Karen Barbour, and Amy Ryan plays Nic's mother, Vicki.[14]


  1. ^ "Father and son memoirs". EW.com.
  2. ^ Velkow, Nora (30 April 2009). "The 2009 TIME 100". Time. New York City: Meredith Corporation.
  3. ^ "Barnes & Noble: Discover Great New Writers Award". Archived from the original on 2009-03-28. Retrieved 2009-05-07.
  4. ^ a b c David Sheff's home page Archived 2008-07-08 at the Wayback Machine Author's bio
  5. ^ Sheff, David (2009). Beautiful Boy: A Father's Journey Through His Son's Addiction. Boston, Massachusetts: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. p. 149. ISBN 978-0547347929.
  6. ^ "The Marin Family Behind the Film Beautiful Boy - Marin Magazine - January 2019 - Marin County, California". www.marinmagazine.com. Retrieved 2019-03-13.
  7. ^ "When My Son Became Addicted, I Thought It Was His Problem. But Addiction Is a Family Disease. - Where Families Find Answers on Substance Use | Partnership for Drug-Free Kids". Where Families Find Answers on Substance Use | Partnership for Drug-Free Kids.
  8. ^ a b Sheff, David. "David Sheff On Addiction: Prevention, Treatment And Staying 'Clean'". NPR.org.
  9. ^ "Author David Sheff Focuses on the War on Prevention". KLEAN Treatment Centers. 2013-08-01. Retrieved 2019-01-23.
  10. ^ Training, Botvin LifeSkills. "Botvin LifeSkills Training Most Widely Used Evidence-Based Prevention Program in Elementary Schools". www.prnewswire.com.
  11. ^ "The Jed Foundation Partners with the Clinton Foundation, Facebook & MTV - JED". JED. 2014-01-14. Retrieved 2018-03-27.
  12. ^ "Honorary Board | International Bipolar Foundation". ibpf.org. Retrieved 2018-03-27.
  13. ^ McGrath, Charles (February 26, 2008). "A Twice-Told Tale of Addiction: By Father, by Son". The New York Times. New York City: New York Times Company. Retrieved January 16, 2009.
  14. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (February 15, 2018). "Steve Carell & Timothée Chalamet Title 'Beautiful Boy' Sets Fall Release". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved November 20, 2018.

External linksEdit