What Philip Seymour Hoffman can teach us

A few weeks ago another extremely talented man was taken from us far too early. And once again, addiction is to blame. Academy Award winner Philip Seymour Hoffman was widely considered to be one of the greatest actors of his generation but even he was unable to rise above the powerful specter of heroin addiction.

A recent article in The Daily News revealed Hoffman’s battle. After nearly two decades of sobriety, he succumbed last year, requiring treatment over a 10-day span. Afterwards, he relapsed again and began a tail spin that ended with untimely and tragic death on February 2nd.


                        Image credit: New York Daily News

As saddening as it is to see someone with so much still to give the world pass away, it’s important to remember that Hoffman’s story is just one of thousands of stories just like it unfolding across the United States. In 2013, New Jersey saw an average of one victim of overdose a day. Families across the state had their lives changed forever because their loved ones were unable to overcome their crippling addictions to heroin and other deadly forms opioid abuse. And that number is still climbing this year.

Through tragedy, we are able to glean some lessons. The first is that heroin and any sort of addiction knows no demographics. Anyone can be affected no matter where they live or what their income level may be. The second is that an addiction isn’t something anyone really completely gets rid of. It can haunt its victims for years, even after two decades of sobriety like in the case of Philip Seymour Hoffman.

We ask, as always, that parents take these recent news stories and use them as teachable moments for their kids. These are real pressures they are faced with everyday at school.  Talk to them. Let them know how you feel and lead by example. We mourn the death of Philip Seymour Hoffman, but as we move on, we must remember the important lessons his untimely passing taught us.

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