Actor Dies at 46 of Suspected Heroin Overdose
The New York Times reported yesterday that actor Philip Seymour Hoffman died Sunday of a drug overdose. He was found dead in a Greenwich Village apartment by a friend who had become concerned about him. Authorities report that an envelope suspected to contain heroin was found near Mr. Hoffman and a syringe still in his arm.
The article addresses Mr. Hoffman’s drug addiction and previous participation in treatment noting that he had returned to a drug rehabilitation program as recently as last year following a relapse with prescription drugs.
The actor was known for his wide variety of roles in movies like Twister, Capote, Moneyball, Mission Impossible III, and Charlie Wilson’s War. Mr. Hoffman is said to have been in over 50 feature films as well as in a number of Off Broadway plays.
Alcohol and Drug Services (ADS) has posted in recent months about a number of news & entertainment personalities that have experienced alcohol or drug problems. Cory Monteith from the hit show Glee died last year from a drug overdose and Elizabeth Vargas just recently went public with her struggle with alcoholism. CNN reported just last week a story about 17 people in Pennsylvania overdosing and dying from a potent mixture of heroin and fentanyl. Opioid abuse and addiction are becoming widespread.
There are several common themes often shared by individuals facing addiction. One parallel is the degree of silence and secrecy that surrounds the person’s illness. In each case of the Hollywood stars, there were friends & co-workers around the addict who reported having no idea that he/she was suffering with an addiction. Many individuals become functional addicts or alcoholics for a period of time meaning that they meet expectations & responsibilities in public while dealing secretly with their various addiction demons. As is usually the case, the progression of the addiction continues to the point where the addict must get help or either hits the proverbial bottom … which of course includes possibly dying from the addiction.
Another prevailing theme in these stories is the unmistakable chronic and progressive nature of addictive disease. It will continue to get worse if left untreated and commonly feeds on isolation. In the Elizabeth Vargas case, she recognized that her alcohol addiction was getting out of hand and fortunately she sought help. This may have very well saved her life.
We mourn the passing of any addicted person who has not yet found recovery. While individuals die from addiction everyday in the United States, prominent, well-known stars sometimes cause a brighter light to be shone on the problem of addiction. Drug addiction tragedies are certainly mounting. Society must deal with this problem firsthand, and out in the open. Addiction is an equal opportunity disease. It does not discriminate based on socio-economic status, race, or religion. Addiction is found in all strata of society.