You Shouldn’t Be Shocked by Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Death

The opioid epidemic is growing. If you or a loved one needs treatment for opiate abuse, here’s what you need to know.

By Lee Bodkin, MCAA Blog

We have lost one of our most talented actors to heroin.

Philip Seymour Hoffman relapsed last May after being sober for 23 years. While many were shocked to learn that an actor of such renown could die with a heroin needle in his arm, they shouldn’t be.

Opiate addiction can happen to anyone: housewives, business professionals, working class laborers, teachers, students...anyone who takes prescription painkillers and has a genetic predisposition to opiate addiction can become addicted.

Make no mistake, there is a growing opioid epidemic going on in this country; Fairfield County is not exempt. In Connecticut one person dies every day from an opioid overdose on average.

According to the White House's Office of National Drug Control Policy, the number of deaths involving heroin surged 45 percent between 1999 and 2010. Every day there are between 75 and 100 deaths due to opiate overdose.

This epidemic is taking a huge toll on our young people. Prescription drugs are now one of the leading killers of teens in the United States. Teens typically start with prescription painkillers, such as OxyContin and Vicodin, found in the family medicine cabinet. Those who become addicted will often move on to heroin because it is cheaper and easier to get.

If you think this cannot happen to your child, think again. People who never could have imagined putting a needle in their arm and shooting heroin, do so after getting hooked on prescription drugs.  

If you or a loved one has had or needs treatment for opiate abuse, here’s what you need to know:

  • Relapse is likely; statistics show that 90% of opiate addicts will relapse within the first year after completing a traditional treatment program.
  • Upon discharge from treatment, make sure the addicted person has a relapse prevention and follow-up treatment plan in place.
  • When a person relapses, they will often go back to using at the same level they used before treatment. Because their tolerance levels drop after they have been clean for period of time, they are more susceptible to overdosing.
  • The person with the addiction, family and friends and first responders should all have access to Naloxone (or Narcan). It can reverse an opiate overdose and safe a live.
  • In Connecticut, you can get Naloxone from physicians, surgeons, physician’s assistants (PAs), Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs), dentists and podiatrists.
  • If you are the addicted person and you relapse, do not use alone. Keep a vial of Naloxone on hand.
  • If you are with someone and they overdose, call 911. You will be protected by the “Good Samaritan” law and will NOT be arrested.
  •  If you or a loved one needs treatment, find a provider with experienced licensed or certified counselors who are trained to treat addiction. Look centers that are CARF or JCAHO accredited. Proven treatments for addiction include cognitive behavioral therapy, motivational interviewing and psychopharmacology. Medications are particularly effective in treating opiate addictions.
  • If you have children at home and have ANY unused prescription drugs in your medicine cabinet, lock them up until you can turn them in at a Drug Take Back Day.

The opiate abuse epidemic will need to be confronted on many levels to be overcome. But knowledge is power and there are steps and safe guards that many of us can take to curb it.  Accepting that addiction is a disease and letting go of the stigma is step one. 

Source:  http://ct.gov/DMHAS/ 

MCCA believes that alcoholism, drug addiction, problem gambling and co-occurring disorders are treatable illnesses and that those affected – including other family members – can recover. MCCA is a top-rated substance abuse provider in Connecticut and has seven outpatient and three residential programs throughout the western part of the state. For more information visit our website at MCCAOnline.com.   

To read MCAA's original blog post, click here. If you'd like new posts sent right to your inbox, click here and select 'subscribe."

Have you or someone you care about struggled with addiction? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Michael Brennick February 10, 2014 at 09:13 PM
A doper from Hollyweird expires on a toilet aurrounded by 60 bags of smack---I'm not in the least shocked.
Idont Givitout February 10, 2014 at 09:23 PM
Addiction is a state of mind. If you choose to take something it indicates your CHOICE to contaminate your body for the sake of escape. If you were to chose to be strong and not take it and deal with your problems like an adult human and then fail you will deserve sympathy.Certainly not the case here!
Joe Viglione February 10, 2014 at 09:27 PM
Zaria, I did not know that. If he was supposed to pick up his kids and was shooting dope, it is just completely horrifying and showed irresponsibility on Seymour-Hoffman's part. With all his money he could have hired a limo driver for them, and should have.
Idont Givitout February 10, 2014 at 09:29 PM
Mary, I don't need to walk in someone else shoes (gross) to understand right and wrong. That came from my parents good parenting skills and taking time to explain the good and bad of thing that life will throw at you. The skill to deal with problems is an important lesson. I will boldly also state that a bigger "addiction" issue to deal with is the video games out. Those teach the users that there is no repercussion to death. Just hit rest and all will be OK!
Paul February 10, 2014 at 09:36 PM
Not to worry i am not shocked, and actor dies of a drug overdose wow now that is breaking news.. Who cares one less drug addict in this world.
John Santaella February 10, 2014 at 09:50 PM
Hoffman did not 'relapse' to herion. He was an alcoholic who had been dry for 23 years and fell off the wagon last year. He started using heroin only recently
Frank February 10, 2014 at 09:51 PM
Honestly, I am thankful I do not have a drug addiction. It is painfully hard to live in this society. I can relate to Phillip in many ways...rest in peace.
Mitch Dinges February 10, 2014 at 10:00 PM
PSH had three children with a loving partner. He was so selfish with his addiction he could not see what was most important and how responsible he was. There are no Demons haunting anyone with addiction problems...only selfishness, self-centeredness and shortsightedness. RIP
John Santaella February 10, 2014 at 10:03 PM
Mitch, you seem to be an expert on addiction. Actually you know nothing about addiction. Your ignorance is glaring.
Richard Gash February 10, 2014 at 10:59 PM
I could care less that this person is dead he killed himself and left loved ones to pick up the pieces. His choices not the drug dealers killed him. Perhaps I should feel remorse for this actor(human) but I don't . Like the rest of the users out there its their choices that do them in !!
Joe Viglione February 10, 2014 at 11:44 PM
Julia Roberts's half sister Nancy Motes found dead www.chicagotribune.com LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The half sister of Oscar-winning actress Julia Roberts died from a possible drug overdose, the Los Angeles County Coroner's office said on Monday. http://www.chicagotribune.com/entertainment/sns-rt-us-juliaroberts-halfsister-20140210,0,6960725.story
John Santaella February 11, 2014 at 12:17 AM
Richared Gash, no one is asking you to feel remorse about anyone. You just feel you have to put your two cents worth into a subject, addiction, you know nothing about.
Richard Gash February 11, 2014 at 01:34 AM
perhaps johnny boy I know more then you think, of course one truth is a given, I don't care what you think
Rick Ricky February 11, 2014 at 07:08 AM
Its true. Everyone has choices and some people are just plain selfish. I can't stand it any longer. We are supposed to feel sorry for everyone who makes bad choices no matter what they do. Sorry, No I don't have to. Things are not by luck. It is by hard work and doing what you should to get a head. If you have to study for a test, Put your nose in that book, don't chose to go out and party all night and blame everyone else. If you don't have the money don't buy it or go in debt. Another bad choice we are supposed to feel sorry for. I am done with irresponsible people that everyone is forced to feel sorry for.
P-Ville Lifer February 11, 2014 at 07:50 AM
I lost my son-in-law last year to a heroin overdose; the year before that he overdosed but was saved. He stayed clean for a few months but it was one demon he just couldn't beat; he went back to using and it took his life. He left behind three beautiful children; his two oldest will remember their dad but the youngest one won't.
m e February 11, 2014 at 08:07 AM
Unlike Earl who's got alot of baggage to carry, namely himself, the rest of us have to see the truth. You can thank doctors in the U.S. for a heavy hand in prescribing oxycodone and other medications like it and then yanking back without addressing pain issues in the patient. While the War on Pot waged on, you lost the battle of Meth in the heartland of America and now Heroin is eating another generation of children to Earl's amusement. How about addressing the real problem of poverty of both mind and resources. Making drugs the boogeyman under the bed doesn't address the real issues. This country lacks an adequate healthcare system. Incompetence in both the govt and healthcare sectors doesn't excuse letting this wildfire burn away a generation. Either help to see the issues at hand or pick up a rock and get to the stonings already, you superstitious pack of hyenas.
Richard Gash February 11, 2014 at 09:01 AM
Me like a lot of bleeding hearts concerning drugs and the disasters they create you blame everyone but the users poor users boooowhooo lets get it correct Me lets blame the losers who use these drugs for the problem not the source of these drugs on a side note in a world where birth control hAS CREATES A POPULATION GROWTH ITS A EASY WAY TO CONTROL THE WORLDS POPULATION BETTER THEN WAR
Randi DeLoreto February 11, 2014 at 09:30 AM
I just lost my cousin to it on Sunday night. The second one in less than a year. Having never done drugs myself I don't understand how you can let something take over your life like that. All I know is a family is torn apart now because of their choices. I am still struggling with calling it a disease because in my mind a disease is something you can't control, something tragic like cancer....this is totally preventable. It's an unnecessary thing and if the public officials turn a blind eye to it because they don't want a scar on the city or town they are representing, well that doesn't make it go away...it makes it worse. I don't hate my cousins for what they did...I am disappointed and saddened by the fact that their lives were so empty that they felt they needed this useless drug to keep them going. Now is when the family sits back and says...I wish we could have done something more to help...but no matter how much you try, an addict will always be an addict and they will always have that crutch. I agree some get through it and move on, but some just don't have the will power no matter how many clinics and rehabs you put them in. Mr. Hoffman was an addict...he admitted it many times and let the devil win....just like my cousins.
Earl February 11, 2014 at 09:35 AM
What baggage am I carrying? Would love to hear that! The answer is none! I work hard, raise my kids well, and do what is right, unlike far too many others! Nice try though.
luvmygiants February 11, 2014 at 10:13 AM
Randi DeLoreto and P-Ville Lifer …. tragic news. Sorry for your loss and the struggles your family endures. Keep in mind….the only real moment a true addict "has a choice" is that very first time they use. For many…it spirals out of their own control from that very 1st high. Earl….i pray your children never "pop a pill" b/c believe it not that is what kids do for kicks these days. So much for the days a sharing a 6 pack of Budweiser with 3 buddies. I would certainly never wish addiction upon anyone but fear for people who believe "they can control" addiction. Just b/c you "raise your children well", does not mean that someday they may make a bad choice. And sadly for many…one bad choice can lead them down a very dark path. peace to all … be forgiving …. clear your anger …. educate yourselves and learn …. never think it won't happen to anyone you love …. do not judge ….stop the hate …. peace to all
Bob February 11, 2014 at 11:29 AM
Found with needle in arm and 50 bags of Heroin.... Nuff said....who cares at this point....
Bernie J Bellew February 11, 2014 at 04:34 PM
Who cares? Weak people...not fit. Let them die of their own stupidity. Less of a burden on society.
its me February 11, 2014 at 05:03 PM
bernie you sound like a piece of - - - -
its me February 12, 2014 at 09:09 AM
Imagine waking up with a migraine every day. Then someone brings you a pill and it takes it away - most of the time. Then, after using that pill for a while, they tell you that the pill will kill you, eventually in a decade or so. So you try to stop. But every day that migraine. I challenge you not to take that pill that gives (short-term) relief, even knowing its full (long-term) consequences.
Earl February 12, 2014 at 01:38 PM
If you are waking up with a migrane every day, there is something else wrong. How about trying to fix that rather than becoming a pill popper?
its me February 12, 2014 at 04:58 PM
earl you sure are a dumb one huh. what im saying is heroin does to them what a advil does it us, takes the pain away.
casey February 25, 2014 at 05:58 PM
Don't believe the hype. I tried to get Naloxone prescription. I was able to finally beg a dr. for the lifesaving prescription for addicted family member but unable to get it filled anywhere in the state!!! Pharmacies don't fill it. Insurance no help. Finally went underground and got a naloxone kit. It expires in 6 months. Thank God the first responders carried it when they responded to my family members OD, it saved his life! He too was clean after a rehab and used, but the body cannot use the same amount and that is why so many addicts OD after being clean. It's a very vulnerable time. Massachussetts passes these kits out weekly to parents, wives, loved ones but CT is behind the times in saving lives. Yes, they made it legal for us to get this lifesaving kit but we can't get it anywhere!!! And this is a suburban epidemic folks, its everywhere. Glastonbury and other towns west of the river have a task force for opiate/herion teen abuse. At least their eyes are open. Everyone in my town is saying "not in our town".
casey February 25, 2014 at 06:11 PM
I brought my family member to a doctor who prescribed suboxone, a medication that helps you stay off of heroin. In that office, in a nice town, Glastonbury, the patients were teens, lawyers, many white collar professionals, blue collar workers, housewives, people you would never ever ever suspect had a drug problem, let alone heroin or opiate. We have good health insurance through my employer, we pay a lot for it. It was worse than pulling teeth to get inpatient drug treatment. My family member had to overdose first and then they only approved 21 days and let him leave a 30 day program!!! His outpatient counselor said he needed a 3 month program. Before that he only had outpatient care even though his use clearly indicated he needed longterm inpatient care. Then they gave him outpatient care and because he is clean for 3 weeks they cancel that!!! That is not enough treatment for a drug addict!!! There is no recourse for longer treatment with private insurance and unless you are rich or on state medicaid you are out of luck for long term inpatient treatment, which is research has proven is the most successful for opiate addiction. It's so frustrating. They say if addicts get long term care early in addiction it is more successful but how can they with the insurance red tape!!!
Idont Givitout February 26, 2014 at 12:45 PM
I suspect everyone! Most people are weak and look for the easy out from reality. The users of heroine (with exception) are not using it to relieve physical pain, they are looking for the euphoria it provides. I am not sorry for those of you that have lost a loved (allegedly) one, it is your fault for not seeing the real problem and helping them out with it before it turned to tragedy. The sooner users die the better off society will be
W . Benz March 03, 2014 at 08:49 AM


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