Hollywood lost another great actor over the weekend due to drugs, Philip Seymour Hoffman, 46. The Academy Award winning actor was best known for portraying complex and dysfunctional characters. He played many memorable roles in both film and on stage, and was nominated for numerous awards, including Academy and Tony awards. The Hollywood community expressed deep sorrow over the loss of such a talented actor.
Hoffman was found by his friend David Bar Katz, a playwright, in Hoffman’s home in New York City on Sunday, February 2, 2014, with a syringe in his arm and a nearby envelope containing what appeared to be heroin. Sources said there were as many as eight empty glassine-type bags stamped with “Ace of Hearts” and “Ace of Spades,” street names for heroin. The exact details of his death are still under investigation at this time, and one of the most recent reports states there were more than 50 bags of heroin and used syringes found in his apartment.
History of Addiction
Hoffman had a history of addiction problems. In a 2006 interview with the TV program ‘60 Minutes,’ Hoffman stated he had a problem with drugs and alcohol, but went through treatment at age 22 and had been sober ever since. When he was asked what prompted him to become sober, he replied, “You get panicked. … I was 22 and I got panicked for my life, it really was, it was just that. And I always think, ‘God, I have so much empathy for these young actors that are 19 and all of a sudden are beautiful and famous and rich.’ I’m like, ‘Oh my God. I’d be dead.’”
In a 2011 interview with The Guardian, Hoffman also spoke about his addiction problems, saying they were terrible, and he had a fear they might return. He said, “I know, deep down, I still look at the idea of drinking with the same ferocity that I did back then. It’s still pretty tangible.” He said when he was younger, “I had no interest in drinking in moderation. And I still don’t. Just because all that time’s passed doesn’t mean maybe it was just a phase.”
Last year, his fears became reality when he found himself relying on pain medication and turned once again to heroin. He soon realized his problem and checked into rehab for 10 days, and was reportedly once again sober. What caused this more recent relapse, and for how long it had been going on, is not currently known.
A Rising Problem
Law enforcement officials are searching for where Hoffman obtained the drugs, but they feel that unfortunately the search will not lead them too far from Hoffman’s home. The increased availability—and affordability—of heroin is becoming a problem throughout the United States. Pure heroin is becoming easier to find and cheaper to obtain on the streets, according to the DEA.
The amount of heroin seized at the Southwest border of the United States has increased 232 percent from 2008 to 2012, according to National Seizure System data. Law enforcement officials are also reporting an increase in the availability of high-purity heroine available on the street, which is one contributing factor in a rising number of heroin-related overdose deaths, along with users switching from prescription drugs to heroin, and beginning to use heroin at an earlier age.
Prescription Drug Abuse On The Rise
Prescription drug abuse is on the rise in America, with 28 percent of law enforcement agencies reported prescription drugs as the greatest drug threat, an increase from 9.8 percent in 2009. Pain relievers, which are often opioids, are the most commonly abused and lead to the most overdose incidents, which are also exponentially increasing. The number of prescription opioid related emergency room visits rose 91.4 percent between 2006 and 2010.
Opioids are extremely addictive, especially heroin. Many people who become addicted to opioid prescription pain medication turn to heroin because it provides a similar high but can be cheaper and easier to obtain. However, heroin production is not regulated, which results in wide variations in the purity. This can easily lead to overdoses because users are unable to determine dosage.
Treatment for Drug Addiction
The increasing availability of drugs is not the only contributing problem to cases such as Hoffman. Addiction is a complex disease with which a person must struggle his or her whole life. There is typically both a physical and psychological component of addiction. Although the physical need for the drugs can be overcome through withdrawal, the psychological compulsion to take the drug requires time and professional help to learn how to control. The best treatment for opioid addiction involves holistic care, including intense psychotherapy, that treats all underlying and co-occurring conditions that contribute to the addiction.
The relapse rate for addiction is high, between 40 and 90 percent. Although this rate is similar to other chronic illnesses requiring maintenance such as heart disease and diabetes, it is still a significant number. After people successfully complete treatment, they must remain vigilant about their recovery to reduce their risk of relapsing.
The best chances of avoiding relapse involve undergoing aftercare treatment and having a strong support group that includes friends, family, therapy, and peer support groups such as Narcotics Anonymous. There are many possible contributing factors to a person relapsing, and they will again need to seek treatment, hopefully before something tragic occurs like an overdose. Some people may remain sober for decades before finding themselves once again encountering problems due to some trigger, which is what reportedly happened to Hoffman.
Sovereign Health Group
Sovereign Health Group wants to impart its sincerest condolences to Hoffman’s family, friends, and fans for his unfortunate passing. It is always sad to lose such a great talent so early, especially to drugs.
Sovereign Health Group offers state-of-the-art, evidence-based treatment for drug addiction, along with any co-occurring conditions. We combine individual and group therapy with complementary alternative therapeutic activities such as meditation, yoga, art therapy, music therapy, and equine therapy for a holistic approach that treats the individual and not the disorder. You can learn more about our program here, or call our Admissions team at 866-264-9778.