In Defense of Philip Seymour Hoffman

Addiction Is A Disease

The brain of the addict is different than the “normal” human brain. It craves escape. Numbness. A reprieve from reality.

Ask any recovering addict and he or she will tell you – once they take that first sip of alcohol or first line of coke or first snort of Oxycontin or first shot of heroin – they can’t stop. It is no fault of their own – it is frequently genetic. They were just born that way.

The definition of addiction holds true for those who habitually gamble, smoke, over-or-under eat, act out sexually or are work-addicted …all to mood alter or medicate. These addictions are infrequently defined as such but just as lethal.

The majority of people can drink a second or third pint of beer or leave it. They might, they might not, continue drinking, but they stop if they want to. The addict must have any of it and all of it until supplies are out or the bar closes. Many addicts use at home by themselves. In that case, they may drink or use until they pass out.

By now we know, the Oscar-winning “Capote” actor Philip Seymour Hoffman was found dead on the bathroom floor of his New York apartment with a syringe in his arm.

Hoffman had acted in more than 50 movies, most notably such films as “Doubt,” “Boogie Nights” and “Moneyball.” And for me, a memorable cameo as the late-great rock journalist Lester Bangs in “Almost Famous.”

Fatal heroin overdoses have doubled in some states over the past decade, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration says that in 2011, at least 178,000 Americans used heroin for the first time. This is the latest available statistic and it doubles the number from five years earlier. It’s an epidemic.

As the New York Daily News reports screamingly on its front page, there were 70 bags of heroin, 20 syringes and 5 different prescription meds in Hoffman’s apartment. Who cares?

As usual, the New York tabloids sensationalize the story and ignore the real issues. 

We should be talking about access to mental health care and addiction treatment and how to prevent these tragedies from happening in the future – not the trashy details of a great actor who overdosed.

R.I.P. Philip Seymour Hoffman – talented actor, victim of addiction

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