David Sheff

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David Sheff
Born1955 (age 63–64)[1]
ResidenceInverness, California
EducationUniversity of California, Berkeley
Known for
  • Vicki Sheff
    (m. 1978; div. 1988)
  • Karen Barbour

David Sheff (born 1955/56) is an American author of the New York Times best-selling books Clean: Overcoming Addiction and Ending America's Greatest Tragedy and the memoir Beautiful Boy: A Father's Journey Through His Son's Addiction. 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 was awarded the 2013 College of Problems on Drug Dependence (CPDD) Media Award, and 2017 American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) Media Award.

Early life and education[edit]

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


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.

Personal life[edit]

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.[6] He is also an honorary board member with the International Bipolar Foundation.[7]

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.[8]

In popular culture[edit]

In the 2018 film adaptation of his novel Beautiful Boy: A Father's Journey Through His Son's Addiction, Sheff is portrayed by Steve Carell, with Timothée Chalamet as Nic.[9]


  1. ^ https://ew.com/article/2008/02/29/father-and-son-memoirs/
  2. ^ Velkow, Nora (30 April 2009). "The 2009 TIME 100". Time. New York City: Meredith Corporation.
  3. ^ "Barnes & Noble: Discover Great New Writers Award".
  4. ^ a b c David Sheff's home page Author's bio
  5. ^ Sheff, David (2009). Beautiful Boy: A Father's Journey Through His Son's Addiction. Boston, Massachusetts: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. ISBN 0547347928.
  6. ^ "The Jed Foundation Partners with the Clinton Foundation, Facebook & MTV - JED". JED. 2014-01-14. Retrieved 2018-03-27.
  7. ^ "Honorary Board | International Bipolar Foundation". ibpf.org. Retrieved 2018-03-27.
  8. ^ 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.
  9. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (February 15, 2018). "Steve Carell & Timothée Chalamet Title 'Beautiful Boy' Sets Fall Release". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved November 20, 2018.

External links[edit]