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Philip Seymour Hoffman vs. Heroin Addiction

The best actor of his generation stumbles to an old foe, checks himself into rehab after a week spent snorting narcotics.

by
Dave Swindle

Bio

June 1, 2013 - 8:00 am


Read more at TMZ. And some recommended books on the subject:

         

David Swindle is the associate editor of PJ Media. He writes and edits articles and blog posts on politics, news, culture, religion, and entertainment. He edits the PJ Lifestyle section and the PJ columnists. Contact him at DaveSwindlePJM @ Gmail.com and follow him on Twitter @DaveSwindle. He has worked full-time as a writer, editor, blogger, and New Media troublemaker since 2009, at PJ Media since 2011. He graduated with a degree in English (creative writing emphasis) and political science from Ball State University in 2006. Previously he's also worked as a freelance writer for The Indianapolis Star and the film critic for WTHR.com. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife and their Siberian Husky puppy Maura.

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All Comments   (38)
All Comments   (38)
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Nice blog post.

I like the handwriting gimmick. Accidental addiction because of chronic physical pain is the form of addiction I have the most sympathy for. Which I believe is the case with Philip Seymour Hoffman. Bad back, I think. Like Rush Limbaugh. And Bruce Lee. Philip's and Rush's bad backs have an obvious cause. Or are at lest, aggravating factors. Bruce Lee's back pain was due to an injury from training with a weight bar draped across his shoulders. After his injury, he turned to isometrics for strength training. And unfortunately, turned to drugs. Because the pain never left him.

The pain of depression you mentioned, can be controlled without drugs though. Saying it is due to having an artistic soul is romantic, but not true. Many people not associated with the arts can have depression too. A lot of doctors and nurses turn to drugs, as a way of dealing with the stress of those professions. And the inherent tragedy.

I certainly hope Philip Hoffman comes through it alright. And Lindsay Lohan. She seems much more self destructive than Philip Hoffman.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Thank you for your kind words, Fritz. I'm going to keep experimenting with the handwritten blog posts.

I never said that it's due to having an "artistic soul". I oppose Romanticist notions like that. Rather, I agree with the arguments of the books I linked above -- that the bipolar temperament, if harnessed, can be applied toward any number of tasks not just limited to art-making and acting but also entrepreneurship, leadership, politics, and scientific exploration.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I wish you would type your articles. You have interesting ideas, but your handwriting is actually worse than mine!
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I do type my articles. This is a blog post - I only write a few sentences. But I will continue to work on improving my penmanship.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
And thank you for the kind words on my interesting ideas!
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Creative types skew sensitive as do homosexuals. They are prone to depression as well as addiction. Heroin however grabs everybody by the throat. So who knows?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Hoffman and others were excellent in "The Master." I hope he keeps getting back on track. There but for the grace of God go I.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
No, I have not read the three books you linked, I have, however, read much about the subject and have personal experience with these personalty types and addiction. The fact is, self destructive (and manic depressive) men and women come in all shapes and sizes and have all sorts of different innate talents, only some of which present as artistic or dynamic. His addiction and self destruction nature point less toward a specific personality and more toward his humanity.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Maybe you should check out these three books that have influenced my position on this issue if you want to understand my take better.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Have you ever dealt with a manic depressive addict in your personal life?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Oh yes. More than I can count...
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Wow, that many? No wonder you've read so many books on the subject. Hopefully they didn't leave too much wreckage behind. They tend to do that well.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
A moderate quantity of wreckage left behind, hence my preoccupation with the subject. But I don't like to think of myself as a victim and others have gotten it much worse from bipolar maniacs than me. I appreciate your empathy on the subject and your comments.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Honestly, what turned me off to your post was the idea that getting help after only one week was somehow honorable. It's not, and he's actually been abusing drugs for over a year, and just 'ended' with heroin. Staying sober and taking care of yourself is honorable. I will never make the mistake of confusing the two behaviors.

I'm glad you escaped relatively unscathed.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
You're putting words in my mouth. I didn't say it was honorable -- it's not -- I said it was commendable. It's commendable any time ANY addict recognizes that they are abusing drugs and choose to seek treatment. It's more commendable when they recognize it relatively quickly.

Here's the actual word that I'm using and you can tell me if it's appropriate to use when someone has the courage to recognize they need help fixing their problem. http://www.thefreedictionary.com/commendable
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Are you kidding? You're showing me a dictionary page because I used a slightly different word?

Okay, so here you go:

Honestly, what turned me off to your post was the idea that getting help after only one week was somehow commendable. It's not, and he's actually been abusing drugs for over a year, and just 'ended' with heroin. Staying sober and taking care of yourself is commendable. I will never make the mistake of confusing the two behaviors.


1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
No, I am not kidding. Words matter and miscommunications happen when people use words in a sloppy way. Commendable and honorable are not slightly different words, they are totally different concepts.

So you do not believe that someone should be commended for recognizing they have a drug problem and seeking help for it. Fine. You do your tough love approach and I'll do mine.

I want to encourage others to seek help for their drug and mental health problems, thus I am going to praise celebrities who choose to check themselves into rehab, particularly when they do so before they get too deep into addiction. We can agree to disagree on the proper rhetoric for encouraging those currently on drugs, perhaps browsing internet stories about the subject, to get help.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Nope. I don't find it either commendable OR honorable that Hoffman had a relapse and fell back into heroin after a year of prescription meds, and then went into detox at the urging of family and friends so he could go back to work.

We should definitely agree to disagree. I am tired of celebrities behaving badly and then making it alright by going to detox for a week. Life doesn't work like that for the rest of us.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"I am tired of celebrities behaving badly and then making it alright by going to detox for a week."

Then you are arguing against someone other than me. We're talking past each other.

"Life doesn't work like that for the rest of us."
Life does work that way for everyone. Most drug addicts can't afford the kind of treatment that Hoffman can but that's not the point that I was making. I will put it in capital letters so maybe this will get through to you:
I SAY IT IS COMMENDABLE WHEN ANYONE, REGARDLESS OF THEIR LEVEL OF FAME/WEALTH RECOGNIZE THEY HAVE A PSYCHOLOGICAL PROBLEM AND SEEK OUT HELP TO CORRECT IT BEFORE IT KILLS THEM. My point has nothing to do with your critique of celebrity culture.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I give up. You apparently can't handle it when someone disagrees with you.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I work all day with people who disagree with me. And I often edit and publish blog posts that I don't agree with.

I'd just be very surprised if we genuinely disagree. Are you really saying that we should not commend people for when they recognize they have a drug addiction and choose to seek treatment?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"Are you really saying that we should not commend people for when they recognize they have a drug addiction and choose to seek treatment?"

Yes, that's exactly what I'm saying if you are referring to your original post because I know all too well how the story goes: Hoffman is seeking treatment more than a year into a relapse. He's been sober for 2 decades so he knows what he's doing is wrong and he's doing it anyway; risking his marriage and relationship with his kids and his health. He thanked his family and friends for their support in getting him into treatment, which is code for "I was messing up my relationships and my health and possibly my job and was most likely given an ultimatum."

Also, Hollywood types have been running to rehab to rehabilitate everything including their image and many do so repeatedly, which sends the message that it's okay to party and wreck your relationships because hey, rehab! That doesn't even take into account the insanity that is the rehab industry that takes care of you as long as your insurance pays but if you're seriously suffering and broke it's a 7 day detox and then you're on your own...

Hollywood is NOT setting a good example for the masses when it comes to recovery.

So yeah, I think it's good when someone with issues gets help, but I refuse to COMMEND a guy who felt entitled to indulge when he should've known better.


1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
We'll just agree to disagree on which cultural messages should be put out in order to try and reduce the number of people who kill themselves.

And if you're going to continue reading my articles and engaging with the ideas I write I'd advise you to keep this concept in mind:
http://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/can't+see+the+forest+for+the+trees

can't see the wood for the trees (British, American & Australian) also can't see the forest for the trees (American & Australian)
if someone can't see the wood for the trees, they are unable to understand what is important in a situation because they are giving too much attention to details After you've spent years researching a single topic you get to a point where you can't see the wood for the trees.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I agreed to disagree four posts ago, but you wouldn't accept that I disagreed with you. Now you are in effect, lecturing me. Perhaps you should learn to be less condescending:
http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/condescending
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I now accept that we completely disagree about the best messages to put out to try and reduce the number of drug overdoses and suicides. We apparently have different philosophies that we live by.

I am not lecturing you or being condescending, I am giving you guidance to better understand MY PARTICULAR KIND of writing. I was making a big picture point with this post with the intent of trying to encourage addicts and the psychologically disturbed to seek help. You're concerned with making unrelated small picture points about how you despise celebrity culture and judge Hoffman as a bad person unworthy of any kind words from Hollywood conservatives like myself.

We are talking past each other because we're concerned about different issues. And this will probably continue to happen. You'll pick out some small detail or related issue while bypassing the bigger point that I'm making. So if you want to just continue to misinterpret my writing you can, but eventually I'll give up on trying to explain myself to you in the comments.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"I am not lecturing you or being condescending"

Yes, you are.

"...eventually I'll give up on trying to explain myself to you in the comments"

Hooray!
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
This comment was meant to be in response to Dave Swindle's response to my comment.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The myth of the anguished, half-mad artist is just that, a myth. Van Gogh created much more than gorgeous paintings, he also innocently helped perpetrate the romance of madness and addictive self-abuse being a kind of given if one is a genuine artist. It's hogwash. Most talented artists respect their gift too much to destroy it with alcohol or drugs, and those that do are probably not too sure about their gift to begin with.

Actors are a different matter because, while painters work every day, an actor has lots of down-time between jobs and if there's no audience there's no reason to exercise the talent. Successful actors like Mr. Hoffman have too much money and too much idle time and I suspect a lot of them do drugs out of boredom.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
You would be correct in your assessment about actors except that many of them do have lives off-stage and off-set. It has not stopped many of them from bad behaviors. Hoffman is married (I assume that status still holds), and has at least one kid, as I recall.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
jmarie+1. No sympathy here. Its not like the dangers of Heroin are a new thing, is it? And I bet ole Phil is a raving liberal who is quick to tell the rest of 'sober' folk how to live.
We need to quit glorifing this cr*p.
How about making a hero of the guy who never falls for the drug stuff in the first place....
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I never said he was a hero. Saying that a recovering drug addict should be commended for quickly seeking help after a relapse is hardly glorifying him or comparing him with real heroes like cops and soldiers. It's meant as an encouragement to others with similar problems.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Greetings:

Way back in the recesses of what's left of my mind, I'm thinking that this didn't turn out quite the way you had envisioned.

Certainly, you never said he was a hero but there is a kind of nexus here. While "hero" may well be a tad too hyperbolic an assessment, most don't commend failures. In fact, back in my military daze, there was an Army Commendation Medal which I don't recall ever being awarded for effective cursive writing against hostile forces, foreign or domestic.

And speaking of cursive writing, perhaps it's time to address your addiction in that regard. I mean cursive writing, a superseded technology from centuries past! Are schools even allowed to teach that anymore? I know of a number of calligraphic rehabilitation centers which are doing wonderful work especially with the somewhat new lined paper therapy. There's still hope!

And as a recovering printer, let me add this. Legibility is the debt every typographer owes the reader.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Greetings:

My father was a truck driver in New York City's construction industry. The concept of manhood that he gifted to me had two important criteria. The first was "Protect and Provide". The second was "The ability to tell yourself "No.". Mr. Hoffman would seem to have failed on both those counts.

Having grown up in the Bronx of the '50s and '60s, I unfortunately experienced heroin addiction in non-participant ways, none of which were either beneficial or necessary. This Age of Oprah pseudo-compassion reminds me much of the Christian parable of "The Prodigal Son", a parable I was never quite able to inculcate. However firm Mr. Hoffman's purpose of amendment, it does not at all address damages done to himself or others. I see as, hopefully, peculiar to our age, this hero-fication of the "recovering" drug-addled. Meanwhile, those who had less and experienced worse yet avoided the joys of self-medication struggle on in obscurity bereft of the ostentatious support provided to those valued as more interesting or important.

Back in my basketball playing day, I had a passing acquaintance with a heroin addict who hadn't yet destroyed all his skill at the game. One day, he gave me a bit of enlightenment that allowed me to control the emotions you seem to be acting upon. What he said was, "I don't have a drug problem. I have a money problem." I would guess that Mr. Hoffman does not share the latter.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I also have historically had a problem with "The Prodigal Son" until, as part of a self study, my husband read about the context of the time. As I understand the story: inheritance and ownership laws in the time and place both make the prodigal son's request for his share a grave insult to his father, but also put the father's reaction upon his return into a context of "He messed up his life but I still love him. He gets a robe and a party. You get everything else which is more than your original share and he'll work for you for the rest of his life. Don't be petty."
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Greetings, MC88:

Thank you for the interesting reply. I guess that I must have nodded off before the good Father got to that part of the parable. I also seem to remember my own father mentioning that pettiness didn't become me.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Ah the age-old problem of the elder son toiling virtuously in obscurity and providing the father with the comfort from which to draw the makings of a spontaneous feast ... sympathies ...
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I disagree that his ability to invoke powerful emotions on screen originates with his own self destructive temperament. That's nonsense. He's nothing more than a garden variety addict. He's just an addict who's a very talented actor.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Have you read the three books I linked to which present a lot of scientific and historical evidence that it's not nonsense?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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