When Nic starts using methamphetamine, David Sheff insists that he attend a rehabilitation program if he is to continue living in David's house. However, the more David learns about rehabilitation, the more chaotic the process seems. The majority of programs are loosely based on the principles of Alcoholics Anonymous, but there is little consistency beyond this, and most programs seem also to be strongly influenced by the ideas of their founders or directors, many of whom are unqualified.
David takes Nic to the Thunder Road Center in Oakland. The counselor there speaks to Nic for an hour, then tells David that his son is clearly in danger but that they cannot help him, as he is too resistant to treatment for their program. After more searching, David takes Nic to the to the Ohlhoff Recovery Center in San Francisco. The director there says that Nic is in denial but that this is not necessarily a barrier to treatment. Nic begins the four-week program, but by the third day, he is begging David to let him come home. His counselor says that he is depressed and that meth addiction is particularly hard to treat.
There is a repeated pattern in which David searches around for rehabilitation facilities, finds one that seems to fit the bill, and forces a reluctant Nic to try the new center. Nic seems to make some progress, then relapses and disappears, and David has to call hospitals and the police to try to find him again. Each rehab facility has its own philosophy, but they never seem to come up with much more than platitudes about Nic's addiction.