A little over a month ago, Philip Seymour Hoffman died, presumably an OD on heroin.

I was  a little shocked by the reaction and response. The media, while initially fawning over the sensationalistic nature of the whole “how he died,” then made this somewhat surreal turn. Well, surreal to me. In the wake of PSH’s death, I watched as a slew of articles and stories started appearing all throughout the media. Apparently, heroin is still around and people are dying. It leads me to think one of two things: some people are dumb or some reporters are dumb. This is nothing new. Not only has it been going on, but it has been getting worse.

(Prevalence of Heroin Use in the US, 2012) “The number and percentage of persons aged 12 or older who were current heroin users in 2012 (335,000 or 0.1 percent) were similar to those in 2011 (281,000 or 0.1 percent), but they were higher than those in 2002 through 2005 (166,000 or 0.1 percent in 2002; 119,000 or 0.1 percent in 2003; 166,000 or 0.1 percent in 2004; and 136,000 or 0.1 percent in 2005), 2007 (161,000 or 0.1 percent), and 2009 (193,000 or 0.1 percent) (Figure 2.4). Recent increases in the use of heroin were also evident in the estimate of past year heroin use.”


Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Results from the 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Summary of National Findings, NSDUH Series H-46, HHS Publication No. (SMA) 13-4795. Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2013, p. 16.

Maybe because I exist in a world where I see what heroin is still doing on an almost daily basis, this is no surprise. I think the upward trend is going to continue because the amount of prescription drug use is also escalating. And as more and more people get hooked on opiates, it is only natural to play the tape out and see that while many could afford $30 or $50 a pill at the beginning, most aren’t going to be able to sustain their addiction like that financially and will inevitably turn to cheaper alternatives. Aka: dope.

I scratch my head wondering why it takes a well-liked celebrity death for heroin to again become part of the public discourse. Of course, I know the answers to why. It grabs eyeballs, it’s a trending topic, and on some level I should be happy that regardless of the reason, people are talking about it. (Although, you know what opinions are like…) I just find it frustrating the amount of death and destruction that occurs as a result of using dope, but it isn’t until someone who plays make-believe well, that people are shocked or care.

The other thing that bothered me was the police response. I posted this on Facebook:



I was surprised at the response. (I work with the assumption that no one listens, or cares…) The one that resonated with me was one where the post resonated with them. They wished to remain anonymous:

“I was going to respond to your wall post but I didn’t feel comfortable making this public knowledge. My brother OD a few years ago and I have to say its frustrating as hell to see the way people, now cops, respond to celebrity deaths. There was no follow up with my family in any way. The cops didn’t take the dope bags in his apartment and match them to the local dealer which no doubt was within 5 blocks. The cops never went to the methadone clinic to see which dose they were giving him and if they were aware that he was an active user. They were I made sure of it but somehow they still gave him his daily dose. The reactions that people have towards famous people is sickening! There was no outpouring for my brother, he was just another junkie…”

The death of this person’s brother is sad and the death of PSH is sad. Because it was unnecessary. Especially for PSH who had apparently been clean for a number of years and had a choice. Make no mistake, he chose this. Every life lost is sad. Regardless of the person was well known, well loved, both of these things or neither of these things.

Regardless, as a result of Hoffman’s death, I have been forced to pay much more attention not to the dangers of heroin, but of what a great actor he was.