David and Nic Sheff

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In Beautiful Boy, David writes about a time he shared a joint with his son, a decision he says he regrets to this day.

"Nic was already on this course, and I was desperate to connect with him," David says. "What does that say? The hypocrisy. ... It was not something I'm proud of."

David says he's heard stories of other parents trying the same tactic, but it's not something he recommends. "I took [the joint] without really thinking it through," he says. "But I did have the sense he was trying to open up to me. He was trying to talk."

When Nic was growing up, David says he made the decision to discuss his own experiences with drugs with his son. "When I was a child, my parents didn't know anything about drugs. They didn't even drink," he says. "When they said, 'Just say no,' ... I kind of rolled my eyes and thought they didn't know what they were talking about. I thought I'd have some credibility because I did know people whose lives were destroyed by drugs."

While some experts think parents should be honest with their children about past drug use, others argue that it sends a mixed message. Now, David says he's not sure if he should have opened up.

"They bring these athletes to schools or other people who have done well, and they say, 'Don't use drugs. I almost died.' Well, what do the kids see? They see this person who not only survived, but they're thriving," he says. "It is a mixed message. That's a problem. I think we have to better figure out how to talk to kids about this."