July 27, 2017  Last Update: December 21, 2016, 11:10 pm

Rest In Peace, Philip Seymour Hoffman

Phillip Seymour Hoffman dies alone in his bathroom of an apparent heroin overdose. He was 46 years old. (PRPhoto)

Philip Seymour Hoffman dies alone in his bathroom of an apparent heroin overdose. He was 46 years old. (PRPhoto)

Actor Philip Seymour Hoffman died of an apparent heroin overdose, alone in the bathroom of his apartment in New York City, according to this mornings news. He was 46.

Philip Seymour Hoffman and his family lost a battle with addiction. We were rooting for them. He was a gifted actor, and a strong heart and character. He worked hard at this craft, and did so thoughtfully, which is not as common today as it once was. His most recent work in “God’s Pocket” received positive reviews, even though the film did not. That was his work… to do his best, as an actor.

Hoffman’s acting career began when he was a young adult out of school. He was promising young actor in New York City, getting good reviews and job offers. When he had a win, he partied. When he had a set-back, his friends would want to party, to shake off the negative, looking forward to the next casting call.

Philip Seymour Hoffman died alone in his bathroom last night, of the deadly consequences of addiction.
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They did drugs. Back in the late 80’s, it was cocaine and alcohol, mostly. Crack was taking over the slums, bringing violence with it. The strong association of crack with poverty and street violence helped promote cocaine among those with cash, since cocaine was “pure”, expensive, and “quality”.

Hoffman admitted to doing anything he and his friends could get, and partying hard. He also admitted to becoming addicted to prescription pain killers later in life, which led to heroin. He went through rehab, relied on close family and friends for support, and admitted to the public that he was living in recovery. And now he’s dead.

There is a heroin problem in New Jersey and New York right now. The root cause is believed to be years of lax prescribing of prescription pain killers like Percocet and roxycodone, followed by a clamp down that left users without a supply of what is essentially synthetic heroin. Drug dealers have capitalized on those enforcement actions by lowering the price of heroin and bringing it into the neighborhoods where pain killers were popular. Snorting crushed pain killers or heroin is more common than injecting in those neighborhoods.

Opiate addiction is characterized by a rush of a high that requires increasing doses to be maintained over time, with a strong physical dependency that causes violent sickness if the drug is not available. The combination is deadly.

Heroin use is also a sign of despair. Hoffman acknowledged that, when he sought help after moving from pain killers to heroin. He and his peers did not accept heroin as casual drug use. That stigma may have been part of the problem – another reason to hide the use of heroin as a secret.

Heroin is different than other drugs. With heroin, someone who starts out seeking the rush of a high in order to escape negativity or depression or perhaps just to feel happy, ends up living like an exhausted slave, constantly seeking the escalating levels of cash and drugs needed to avoid violent physical sickness of withdrawal. The attempt to party or feel happy became a fight to avoid feeling violently sick from withdrawal.

Heroin takes over lives. Without help, few can break free of a heroin addiction. Death usually comes from consequences of the addiction, however. Risk-taking associated with drug seeking, and the desperation that comes from enslavement. Why did Philip Seymour Hoffman die?

Why did Philip Seymour Hoffman die?
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After 100 plus individuals died of heroin overdose in Ocean County in New Jersey last year, community leaders demanded action beyond typical enforcement efforts. Authorities have identified some “bad heroin” they believe is responsible for many sudden deaths like this one – an addict found dead immediately after injecting. Hoffman was found in his bathroom, with a needle still in his arm. Does anyone think he intended to kill himself like that?

An overdose like that can be caused by a poisoned dose that was thought to be heroin, or a purity level much higher than expected. A lethal dose. For someone who has been living sober in recovery, a return to using can be lethalĀ  due to the way the body gets used to heroin. What was needed to get high after using for a while, can be a lethal dose for someone who has not been using.

Hoffman’s own descriptions of his addiction tell a story of the battle he lost. The self awareness that came to him when he realized he had purposefully bought heroin to get high, was a warning flag. It caused him distress and pushed him to ask for help, which he did. He knew using heroin, and especially injecting, was not just partying. He knew, he said, that it was a sign of trouble.Yet he died with a needle still in his arm. What happened?

What happened is addiction won. Whether or not there were character flaws, personality disorders, depression, identity issues, denial, mental illness, or just plain foolishness, the battle was between addiction and a man enslaved by it, who did not get enough help soon enough, and died of the consequences of high-risk behaviors associated with addiction.

Rest in peace, Philip Seymour Hoffman.

 

 

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  1. […] Sunday started with some negative news here on the east coast. Academy award winner Hoffman had died due to a suspected overdose. Hoffman was in detox last year after a heroin relapse following 23 years of sobriety. He was found […]

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