Let me say that my Hawks’ crushing victory over the Broncos is nothing short of legendary. Hell, I even lost my voice halfway through the opening snap! Safety! Safety! Safety! Yes, it was beautiful. I screamed and cheered for all the right reasons! And though my 10-month-old daughter may well develop a nervous twitch, at least my Hawks won!
Nevertheless, the unfortunate demise of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman, of whom I am a fan, eclipsed the football game entirely, and indeed, everything else. Such outrageous news set my emotional compass in a tailspin, alternating disbelief and sadness throughout the day. Even as I write I cannot bring myself to believe that such a gifted person could find peace in something as loathsome and deadly as heroin. It’s hard to believe.
It shouldn’t be, I agree. Hoffman struggled with drug addiction for more than twenty-years according to those who knew him best as well as an interview he gave 60 Minutes in 2006.
“It was all that [drugs and alcohol], yeah. It was anything I could get my hands on . . . I liked it all.”
Sadly, Hoffman is merely the latest in a long line of famous people whose lives were snuffed out by drugs. Lenny Bruce, Judy Garland, Chris Farley, Margaux Hemingway, Whitney Houston, Heath Ledger, Michael Jackson, Cory Monteith, Jim Morrison, and too many others to mention.
Celebrities are too often placed on pedestals and thought to have superhuman abilities they couldn’t possibly possess, and so when they fall, they crash and become nothing more than a punchline. Society doesn’t seem to realize that celebrities can suffer from mental illness just like anyone else, and turn to drugs to self-medicate just like anyone else.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not making excuses for Hoffman. I abhor drug use. I’ve seen firsthand the effects it has on the body, mind, and soul. I know what it does to families. It’s wretched and even users know it. So why do they do it? I don’t know. But I think there needs to be more awareness of psychological problems. We can’t write them off as fictional anymore. These problems are real and often lead to drug abuse. How many more have to die before we wake up as a society?