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Addiction and Loss: The Life and Death of Phillip Seymour Hoffman

Memorial services for Phillip Seymour Hoffman.
Memorial services for Phillip Seymour Hoffman.
Photo by Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images

As I gear up to start writing about healthy food and the Olympics, I can’t help but change topics with a heavy heart after seeing news on the death of actor Phillip Seymour Hoffman. I’ve worked in the addiction field since 2001 and I still cannot get past that empty and hollow feeling I get when someone loses their life to addiction. Truthfully I’m not sure how anyone can.

I didn’t know Hoffman and I never met him or worked with him on a personal or professional level. But his death haunts me. Maybe it’s because 14 years ago it could have been me. Maybe it’s because over the last 14 years I have gotten heartbreaking calls from family members and friends after they lost someone because of addiction that still tug at my soul. Or maybe it’s because our world has lost so many young, talented and beautiful actors and artists because of substance abuse. It’s disheartening. It makes me angry. And every time it happens I feel like addiction is winning in a game where the only prize is loss and death.

The Life & Death of Phillip Seymour Hoffman

Phillip Seymour Hoffman was born in New York and was an American actor and director. He started his career in 1991 and has been in movies like Boogie Nights, Almost Famous, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire and Capote. He won an academy award for his role in Capote for Best Actor. He was also nominated three times for Best Supporting Actor roles for the Oscars and Tony Awards. He has a list of movie roles, theater roles and even television roles that would take up this entire article and was called one of the most “most ambitious and widely admired American actor of his generation.”


According to an article on February 3rd from FOX News Hoffman was found dead in his Manhattan apartment. He was 46 years old and was found with a needle in his arm that was filled with heroin. Some are speculating that the type of heroin was fentanyl laced, a batch that reportedly caused several deaths in the northeast.

A private funeral for Hoffman was held in New York with many of his celebrity friends including Amy Adams, Diane Sawyer and Meryl Streep. His family mourned his loss during the services including his partner Mimi O’Donnell, his two daughters, son and mother stood at the services.

Heroin is Taking To Many Lives

I recall this same scenario when I lost a family member to heroin just two years ago. What Hoffman’s family will soon find out is that the funeral is only the beginning of the loss that they will feel. When someone loses a friend, husband, wife, sibling and child to addiction their life haunts you. What you could have done differently to help them. How things would have been if they hadn’t died. No birthday or holiday goes unnoticed and you long for the chance to just see him or her one more time.

If there is one thing that death does for me, it makes me think. I think about how grateful for every moment I have with my parents and siblings. I take the time each day to spend with my daughter and watch her grow. I don’t take these moments for granted and I reflect on the fact that the most important things I have are moments and time with the people that I love. And I make it a point to try to help as many people as I can get help for addiction because I know with the right help it can be cured.

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