1. Discuss Nic’s descent. At what point do you think you would have noticed Nic had a serious problem and needed help? Were there times you disagreed with David Sheff’s course of action? What might you have done differently?
2. When David smoked pot with Nic, what was your reaction?
3. A friend of David’s expresses surprise at Nic’s addiction and says the Sheffs don’t seem like a dysfunctional family. Sheff responds, “We are dysfunctional…. I’m not sure I know any ‘functional’ families”. How would you define a functional family? Which are the Sheffs?
4. As a journalist and someone with the means to do so, Sheff consults a wide variety of experts on the causes, effects, and treatment of addiction. What did you find most helpful? What else might be behind Sheff’s impulse to do more and more research?
5. Much of the film is devoted to the exploration of the disease of addiction. What is your understanding of addiction as a disease? Do you think of it as a behavioral or a brain disorder?
6. A recovering addict tells Sheff, “You will believe in God before this is over” . Later, Sheff quotes John Lennon, “God is a concept by which we measure our pain”. What does this last statement mean? How do David and Nic each come to believe in a higher power? Discuss their struggle with faith and their ultimate understanding of spirituality.
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