Autopsy for Philip Seymour Hoffman expected today, but drugs – heroin, in particular – are suspected to blame; addictions expert Dr. Anne Brown talks to genConnect about how loved ones can help an addict before it’s too late
Philip Seymour Hoffman will forever be remembered for his amazing talent both on stage and in front of the camera, but he will also be remembered for how he was plagued by drug addiction.
Although authorities have not yet announced the cause of death for Hoffman, who was found dead in his New York City apartment over the weekend, news reports say the New York Police Department found dozens of bags of heroin inside his home, while others reported that the 46-year-old actor and father of three was found with a needle in his arm. An autopsy is scheduled for Monday; results are expected tomorrow. Hoffman told TMZ in May 2013 that he had then recently fallen off the wagon after 23 years of sobriety. His death comes amidst a worrying spike in heroin use in the US.
Dr. Anne Brown, PhD, who is in a California private practice specializing in addictions, told genConnect that the death of Hoffman – coming after the drug-linked deaths of celebrities such as Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson, and Cory Monteith of ‘Glee’, along with the many others who don’t make headlines – is another reminder that we, as a society, need to pay more attention to addiction, to prevent such tragic deaths.
“Another incredibly talented person has been taken from us again by the destructive disease of addictions. Three children will grow up without their beloved father because heroin won. All of his loved ones will have a hole in their heart as a result of this tragic loss,” said Dr. Brown, who is also the author of Developing Your Backbone: The Science of saying NO. “‘What could I have done/if only I had’ will plague many for years.”
Dr. Brown added: “We need more answers to treat those addicted as what we have doesn’t work as well as we need it to work. We need people to get better
the first time they are treated – not the ninth, twentieth, or fiftieth. We all know too well so many stories where treatment didn’t work the first time or second time.”
But there IS something that loves ones of an addict can do to get them help – before it’s too late – Dr. Brown said: Intervene, intervene, intervene.
“I am sure people did in this situation and it is a good reminder how important it is to say what we wished we had said,” she added. “When we stop enabling and have the courage to intervene we know we have done our best. We will still have the pain of the loss but hopefully not the pain of ‘what could I have done?’”
Dr. Brown noted that if someone you care about has a problem with addictions, here is a step-by-step process on how to – and how not to – intervene, either alone or with friends. There is even guidance on how to pick a good treatment center. So many people ask: ‘how can I intervene on my friend?’ Here are the dos and don’ts (VIDEOS).