On Sunday morning when my nephew Randy informed me that Phillip Seymour Hoffman was dead my first reaction was that my nephew was joking; my second was that it couldn't be true, it must be a mistake. I believe many thousands of people felt that way. And yet as soon as the reality of his death was absorbed, who among was the least bit shocked that Phillip Seymour Hoffman died from a drug over-dose?
A couple of days ago my Panera Posse and I were mulling over this actor's addiction to and ultimate death by heroin, and over the question of why so many Hollywood celebrities are in the grip of substance abuse and addiction.
I said that I belived that these people, though rich, famous and successful are not getting the medical treatment they need to heal their mental or emotional illnesses. And so they self-medicate with drugs and alcohol. Then they end up in these obviously ineffective celebrity rehab centers when what they really need is to be seeing a psychiatrist. How sad it is, I said, to be someone who has everything money can buy but no one looking out for their well-being.
One of my friends disagreed, saying that the reason there's so much substance abuse in the entertainment world is that the drugs and booze are everywhere and with unlimited availablitity. That simple: the stuff is there for the using and so everybody uses it.
My friends and I wondered, though, if everybody in Hollywood uses drugs or if it just seems to the rest of us that they all do.
We wondered if there's any celebrity out there who's never used drugs at all?
I wondered if nowadays there's anybody (besides me and my little group of ladies) out there anywhere who's never used drugs at all?
One of my friends, a nurse, pointed out that heroin is in a class by itself. It's one of the most addictive substances on the planet and once you're addicted to it you're addicted for life. Even after you've succeeded in getting clean, every day of your life will be a struggle not to fall back. You may succeed in staying off the drug for years, but a single lapse and you'll be hooked all over again.
In the days since Phillip Seymour Hoffman's death more news stories have come out that in fact heroin use is at a crisis level all across every level of our society, from the poor to the middle class to the rich and famous.
There are a lot of suffering souls out there.