Tragic death of Philip Seymour Hoffman resurfaces issues of addiction in the media

Feb 3, 2014 | Arts


Police say Hoffman was found dead in his New York apartment from an apparent drug overdose.

Police say Hoffman was found dead in his New York apartment from an apparent drug overdose.

By Jon Mace

The untimely death of acclaimed actor Philip Seymour Hoffman shocked social media outlets Sunday, and has once again brought the issue of substance abuse and addiction into the spotlight.

Hoffman, 46, had reportedly been off drugs for 23 years before relapsing in 2012.

Amber Cotters is the Program Manager at the Council on Drug Abuse and suggests that these issues are on the rise in terms of media attention.

“It’s become a lot more prevalent lately,” says Cotters. “Just look at Justin Bieber, Amanda Bynes as well as Cory Monteith. There has always been an underlying issue of substance abuse among celebrities, more so recently because their every action is publicized.”

Cotters says that despite their success celebrities are definitely an at risk demographic.

“They are constantly in the spotlight, they really don’t have much privacy,” says Cotters. “Everything they do is captured in some way so that adds to any outlying risk factors.”

“I think it’s terribly sad,” says Now Magazine film critic Norm Wilner. “I think that the more famous you become the more opportunities you have to be tempted. More people want to give you things like drugs and alcohol just to say they’ve done them with you.”

Since his breakthrough role as a pathetic porno filmmaker in Paul Thomas Anderson’s Boogie Nights in 1997, Hoffman has graced the screen with dozens of thought provoking characters – loveable and disturbing alike.

He boasts an impressive resume both on the stage, earning a Tony nomination in 2000, as well as four Oscar nominations, the fourth of which won him the Best Actor for his role in Capote.

“He is essential to so much,” adds Wilner. “If you look at his film work you see the last 20 years of independent American cinema.”

Cotters offers some warning signs and suggests that someone struggling with addiction will often neglect their priorities.

“If they are not going out and doing what they would normally do, staying in more and neglecting their friends and family,” says Cotters. “Also if they are acting out violently without a history of violence, this is a sign to be concerned about.”

Hoffman is survived by three children and their mother, Hoffman’s partner Mimi O’Donnell.