Every year roughly 6,500 people die from Heroin overdoses1. Sadly, Philip Seymour Hoffman has become one of those people. Yesterday he was found dead in his apartment and so far the police have ruled it an overdose.
Hollywood has been incredibly vocal about his death, and they should be, but they have been remarkably silent about what killed him. Hollywood is blazing away like he died peacefully in his bed–surrounded lovingly by his family and friends. In truth, Philip died in his underwear on the bathroom floor with a needle stuck in his arm. That is an ugly and tragic way to die.
Except for Val Kilmer, I have been unable to find a star who has even mentioned that it was drugs that killed him.
It was good of Val Kilmer to remind everyone of this and his words may help to influence others.
As a police officer, I arrested a lot of people for illegal drug use—particularly crack cocaine. After seeing firsthand the devastation caused by this drug, I started asking questions to better understand their situation. My hope was that with this information I might discover some way of preventing others, particularly kids from ever getting on the path that led to such a terrible ending. So I started asking every addict I arrested the same three questions and every one of them responded the exact same way. Never once did it differ.
It went like this.
“Was crack the first drug you used?”
“What was the first drug you used?”
“Where did you get it?”
“From a friend.”
No addict that I ever arrested started off with crack cocaine—never. It was for ‘recreational’ use and they never paid for it but got it free from a ‘friend’. Every one of them began with Marijuana and while I have no idea which drug Philip first started using, I seriously doubt it was Heroin.
We must remain proactive and prevent all drug use.
On a personal note, I find it utterly ironic that many of the same Hollywood stars (and fans) that are very vocal about the tragedy of Philip’s death are also some of the people who are the most determined to legalize marijuana—an illegal drug that research has shown has tragic consequences for young people by making them more likely to be dependent on marijuana and other drugs later in life.2
No, Marijuana is not the same thing as Heroin and no, I didn’t expect anything different from Hollywood. But we work with kids and I care what they think because thought influences behaviors. No drug is ‘harmless’ because all drugs diminish, control, ruin, or consume a person’s life. Philip and thousands of others are a daily testimony to this terrible truth.
I’m very sad for Philip Seymour Hoffman and his family, children, and friends. Phillip was first a person, a son, a father, a friend, and then somewhere down the line an actor. We need to keep that in focus. Yes, he was a great actor but he was a person first and he died a pointless death because of drugs.
No person should ever die because of drugs.
Here are some resources. If you have any other good resources, please post them in the comment section.
National Recovery Resources:
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (www.niaaa.nih.gov)
National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (www.ncadd.org)
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (http://www.samhsa.gov/index.aspx)
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Treatment Facility Locator ( http://findtreatment.samhsa.gov/TreatmentLocator/faces/quickSearch.jspx )