Arapahoe House, Colorado’s largest and leading provider of substance use disorder treatment, welcomed acclaimed addiction author and screenwriter Nic Sheff to downtown Denver for its 8th Annual Luncheon. Sheff received a standing ovation for his powerful, raw and unfiltered keynote address to a crowd of more than 500 at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. The luncheon, directly benefiting the organization’s life-changing addiction treatment programs, garnered the highest proceeds in the event’s history and more than $234,000 in gross revenue.
Nic and his father, David Sheff -- who was slated to co-deliver the keynote, but had to cancel because of a dire family emergency -- simultaneously wrote books about their experiences with addiction from different perspectives. David as a father, and Nic as an individual with co-occurring substance use and bipolar disorder. Both books landed spots on the New York Times bestseller list and “Beautiful Boy” is in production as a major motion picture starring Steve Carell.
Nic Sheff is celebrating seven years in recovery and gave the audience a window into the complexity of the disease. He recalled his childhood, and the feeling that there was something deeply wrong with him. Using marijuana and alcohol, then meth and heroin, became his solutions to alleviate that feeling.
“I was suffering more than anyone could have ever imagined,” remarked Sheff. “It felt like I was constantly on fire, and the only thing to put out that fire was drugs.”
It wasn’t until he completed treatment for the second time that his life turned around.
“It was the first time in my life that I explored why I hated myself so badly and why I felt like I had to numb all of that with substances,” he said. “I was also finally diagnosed with bipolar. I thought after 28 days in rehab, I’d come out fixed, but it’s something I have to work on all the time to be able to live my life.”
For every 10 Coloradans who need help for addiction, only one receives it -- meaning 90 percent don’t receive the treatment they need.
“If I could design the perfect treatment center, it would be Arapahoe House,” continued Sheff. “It’s the kind of place that we need more of.”
“At Arapahoe House, we believe in the person over the addiction,” said Arapahoe House CEO Mike Butler. “With support, people can and do recover from substance use disorders. The need in our community is vast and Arapahoe House can do this work, year-in and year-out, because of a wide and invested community.”
The 8th Annual Arapahoe House Luncheon was generously sponsored by the Anschutz Foundation, McCandless Truck Center, Flood and Peterson, DiPasquale Family Foundation and Epicurean Group. Other major sponsors included Aetna, Colorado Access, FirstBank, Greg and Karen Gulley, MDC/Richmond American Homes, NexGen Resources and Western Group Inc.
About Arapahoe House: With seven locations and 20 quality services for adults, teens and families, Arapahoe House is the largest and leading provider of substance use disorder treatment in Colorado.