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Let's Learn from Hoffman's Death

by James Heller 4. February 2014 14:09
Philip Seymour Hoffman died of a heroin overdose on Super Bowl Sunday, February 2, 2014.  This generation lost a great talent, who delivered impeccable performances in Capote, Charlie Wilson’s War, and The Master.  Heroin addiction doesn’t care about people with the disorder, though, and it isn’t shocking when a life is lost.

Philip Seymour Hoffman 2011

Friends and associates in the entertainment industry posted their sorrow over the loss on social media.  Many of them said they were “shocked” while sharing other painful emotions. These were written by individuals who knew him well and who worked with him in the past.  

He had 3 children under the age of 11, and he was found dead because a friend went to his apartment to find out why he had failed to pick them up that morning.  According to a New York Daily News article, a mix of 50 full and empty bags of heroin were found there.  This indicates that heroin addiction doesn’t care about family members either, and it took a father away from his children.

Here is the final entry in Hoffman’s IMDb bio on 02/13/14:

On February 1st (sic-2nd), 2014, Philip Seymour Hoffman was found dead in an apartment in Greenwich, Connecticut. Investigators found Hoffman with a syringe in his arm and two open envelopes of heroin next to him. Mr. Hoffman was long known to struggle with addiction. In 2006, he said in an interview with "60 Minutes" that he had given up drugs and alcohol many years earlier, when he was age 22. In 2013, he checked into a rehabilitation program for about 10 days after a reliance on prescription pills resulted in his briefly turning again to heroin.
- IMDb Mini Biography By: Jon C. Hopwood

No note was left in the apartment, so the going assumption is that the heroin overdose was accidental.  If that’s true, and we can accept that it is, he was at least intent on using a lot of heroin in the near future and probably believed that he could control dosages.  This is common thinking for addicts.  He thought he could live a normal life with his addiction in tow.  But addiction always takes the lead.  He may even have been looking forward to a great day with his kids all the way up to when his body succumbed to the heroin intake.  

It’s difficult to judge the honesty of an addict, especially one who has immediate access to his drug of choice and any place in the world to hide out and use it.  We don’t doubt that he was a decent person, but that’s beside the point.  It’s possible that he was nursing a habit for some time.  But let’s consider that he was clean for over 20 years, and take him at his word.

Addicts who relapse can’t use the same amount of a drug that they had used before they got clean.  They need to build tolerance again, which takes time.  But addiction in action is not logical.  If this was his first time using after some clean time, then his body could not have handled the amount of heroin his addiction needed to be satisfied.  This could still be the case if he had been using heroin for several months.  Sometimes the addiction just can’t be satisfied and the chase for a high results in tragedy.
With heroin use comes some noticeable physical and behavioral changes.  Anyone close to that person could notice that there is a problem.  Very few of them will say anything, though, when the addict is a celebrity or in a position of power.  This is tragic on two levels because the addict doesn’t get help and dies, and fans might gloss over the unnecessary end as being an accident.  Nobody learns about the horrors of heroin addiction from this scenario.

If Hoffman had been using for some time, then those who knew him should not have been shocked over the overdose.  This is certainly not meant to blame anyone, given that most Americans are just not educated about this drug.  Heroin may be good at filling a void in an addict’s soul, but it is downright dangerous to the human body.  Heroin addicts are destined for death if they don’t get help.  The addiction does not allow a person to regulate use and enjoy life.  Heroin is strictly a killer.

We need to learn from this and take action.  Heroin addiction is never in a casual state, and requires treatment.

Our facilities offer medical detoxificationoutpatient, and residential treatment for heroin addiction.  Treatment options include Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) using Vivitrol during abstinence or Methadone/Buprenorphine Maintenance for harm reduction after multiple relapses.  Many of our heroin addiction treatment services are covered by Medi-Cal or Medicare, for those who qualify, and we accept all forms of insurance.  

Tarzana Treatment Centers in Los Angeles provides a full array of health care services including adult and youth alcohol and drug treatment.  We specialize in treatment for mental health and substance use disorders, and have two primary medical care clinics in the San Fernando Valley and Antelope Valley and specialized services for HIV/AIDS care.  If you or a loved one needs help with alcohol dependencedrug addiction, or co-occurring mental health disorders or from other services we offer, please call us now at 888-777-8565 or contact us using our secure contact form.
Telemedicine services are also available with online medical care, online mental health treatment, and online alcohol and drug treatment.

Southern California Locations for Alcohol and Drug Treatment
Tarzana Treatment Centers has locations all over Southern California in Los Angeles County. Other than our central location in Tarzana, we have facilities in Lancaster in the Antelope Valley, Long Beach, and in Northridge and Reseda in the San Fernando Valley.