Today we heard the tragic news, that the talented actor Phillip Seymour Hoffman had passed away of a heroin overdose.
Just as we were getting over the shock of Corey Monteith’s death, another ‘non-addict looking addict’ has overdosed.
Just like Corey, Phillip Seymour Hoffman just didn’t look like a junkie. He just looked so ‘normal,’ and ‘middle-class,’ he had ‘everything.’
There were no train wreck pictures of him or reports of his bad behavior on film sets. He consistently turned out excellent work.
Apart from the recent reports that he had gone into rehab, no one would ever have know that he had been struggling with addiction.
But he was a drug addict and guess what? It is more common for a drug addict to look like him or Corey Monteith, than it is for them to look like the homeless street bum that everyone imagines.
Addicts live amongst us. I hope that doesn’t shock you, but we are capable of being addicted and being pretty high functioning. We are your friends and your neighbors, we have careers and responsibilities, we look just like everyone else.
But we are addicts and we are struggling for lack of treatment, lack of resources and lack of compassion. Treatment doesn’t always work first time, like many diseases repeated, consistent treatment attempts are needed.
Sometimes the disease is stronger. The blackness in our souls demands relief and faulty brain chemistry pulls us towards instant pleasure, until we find a solution that works for us, we will always crave chemically induced oblivion.
I’m listening to the reports on TV as I write this and I keep hearing the same thing, ‘but he was so talented, so in demand, so successful, he had everything.’
Yes, on the outside he did. It’s very common for addicts to be very successful in many areas of their lives. It often looks like we have ‘everything.’
But success isn’t enough; external accomplishments do nothing to heal internal pain or fix our brain chemistry.
More is never enough.
It’s really too early to speculate on the circumstances that lead up to Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s death. The details may come out or we may never know why addiction won and recovery lost this time.
If anything can be learned from this tragic loss, it is the understanding that addiction is alive and well and living next door.
And more, much more needs to be done about it.