Intersection of Addiction and Mental Health the Focus of 2023 Lecture Series

ATLANTA – On Tuesday, May 9, 2023, Skyland Trail hosted the 12th annual Dorothy C. Fuqua Lecture Series. The lecture, titled “Beautiful Boy: One family’s journey with mental illness and addiction,” explored the intersection of addiction and mental health disorders through personal stories and an expert panel discussion. More than 200 people attended the free event, which was hosted by Skyland Trail and the Addiction Alliance of Georgia.

The event featured a conversation with David and Nic Sheff, the father and son whose story inspired the movie, “Beautiful Boy.” Through a conversation moderated by Jay Watson, host and co-executive producer of the PBS series “Your Fantastic Mind,” David and Nic shared how their family navigated Nic’s struggle with bipolar disorder and addiction.

“I went to a number of different [addiction] treatment centers and I wasn’t ever evaluated psychologically…When I finally got my bipolar disorder diagnosis and started taking medications for that, it really changed things,” says Nic Sheff. “I think more and more now treatment centers are moving toward a dual diagnosis model … and address both mental health and addiction issues. Not all of them do, and I think that’s an important message to put out there. Obviously not every person who struggles with addiction has a co-occurring mental health disorder, but a lot of us do. It was definitely life-changing for me to get that diagnosis and get on the right medication.”

An expert panel discussion following the conversation included Carlyle Bruce, PhD, Skyland Trail Director of Psychological Services and Family Therapist;  Ben Hunter, MD, Skyland Trail Interim Chief Medical Officer; and Justine Welsh, MD, Medical Director of the Addiction Alliance of Georgia.

A video of the lecture is available online:

David Sheff is the author of “Beautiful Boy: A Father’s Journey Through His Son’s Addiction,” a number-one New York Times bestseller. “Beautiful Boy” was adapted as a film starring Steve Carell and Timothee Chalamet. David also is the author of “Clean: Overcoming Addiction and Ending America’s Greatest Tragedy,” also a New York Times bestseller. David recently launched the Beautiful Boy Fund, devoted to making quality, evidence-based treatment available to people who need it and identifying and supporting research to further the field of addiction medicine.

Nic Sheff is the author of four books, including the New York Times bestseller “Tweak: Growing Up On Methamphetamines” and “We All Fall Down: Living With Addiction.” He has also written several novels for young adults and is a writer, story editor, and co-producer for the Netflix series “13 Reasons Why.” The goal of the annual Dorothy C. Fuqua Lecture Series is to amplify the voices of mental health experts and individuals with lived experience to highlight mental health as an issue of importance in Atlanta and across the country. The lecture series honors the late Dorothy Chapman Fuqua, former board member and benefactor of Skyland Trail, and is made possible by Duvall and Rex Fuqua and Edwina and Tom Johnson.