Feb 03, 2014
Why do young, vibrant people keep dying from heroin overdose? What is the great pull this drug has on our society? Well, I have been thinking about just that question as we all heard about the death of yet another famous and talented actor. Phillip Seymour Hoffman was found in his Manhattan apartment with a syringe still stuck in his arm and fifty heroin bags in his possession.
So I thought back to patient we had very recently, who is also a heroin addict. He called us of his own volition for help. He said he was done and wanted to be free of this drug. He seemed committed to his decision; he convinced his parents that this is the right way to go and got them on board. He flew with his father from East Coast to have our procedure done, which would put him on the road to long term recovery. He signed consents, went through pre-procedural testing, but the morning of the procedure the pull of the heroin was too great. All he wanted to do is back out and get back to using. He told us that he knows all the risks, but he is too smart and nothing will happen to him. His mind created excuses for his use and he told us that he does not use that much and there is nothing wrong with getting occasionally high. He told us that his dealer is different from other and will not sell him bad stuff. He told us that he does not care if he dies; he just wants to be able to get high again.
We drove him back to his father in the hotel. His father was devastated and felt that we should have forced his son to undergo our procedure because, since he was now in withdrawals, he was not himself. The father begged for one of our staff to go to the hotel and talk to his son. One of our senior staff members went to the hotel and talked to both the son and the father. At one point the son got violent and lost control, and that was the moment when the young man realized that he needed to come back to our center and get this done. He realized that heroin took over his life. He was not himself anymore, all the excuses, all the rationalizations came from his addiction, not from who he truly is or should be.
Heroin does that fast, it changes who you are. It gives you false sense of happiness where there is none, false sense of well-being where you have none. Happiness and well-being is something that a human being creates for themselves, from inside. Both are created through the deeds you do and relationships you actively build with people around you. Both of those things – happiness and sense of well-being – require work. However when they are achieved through deeds and work, they are extremely gratifying and lasting.
Heroin can give you both in one single shot. But it will leave you changed forever – empty, emotionally and spiritually; and sometimes dead. Yes it is far easier and faster to get a high from heroin than a high from life, but how many more people have to die to get through to those young ones picking up the syringes for the first time?
So why did Phil Hoffman die? He had the money to spend on the best rehabs, he had people to live for, and he had a fantastic carrier on stage and in film. All that was nothing compared to the high of the false happiness and well-being that that syringe of heroin gave him. Heroin changed him from inside out, it changed his priorities, it made his excuses, and it created reasons. It was not Phillip Seymour Hoffman dead in that apartment; it was his addiction to heroin, to the euphoria it temporary gave him. But we cannot forget that at one point in the past it was Phil himself who opened that door.