Philip Seymour Hoffman’s sudden death is a grave reminder that addiction doesn’t sleep. After more than two decades of staying off drugs, the actor picked up old addictions in recent years. New York City Police officers reported that friends found him dead in his downtown apartment with a needle in his arm. His home contained dozens of envelopes of heroin plus used syringes and several prescription drugs.
Chemical dependency is a chronic relapsing illness. In many ways, it is like chronic illnesses such as Type 1 diabetes, high blood pressure and asthma, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Despite such relapse rates, there is little understanding that long-term treatment allows patients to benefit from extended periods of abstinence and recovery.
The loss of Philip Seymour Hoffman reminds us of one of the challenge in substance abuse treatment: While relapses are often a part of the recovery process, they could be deadly. In fact, with a decreased drug tolerance caused by to periods of abstinence, patients who are doing very well can be particularly vulnerable to overdosing.
Addiction is a serious, life-threatening condition that requires long-term care and monitoring. Over time, treatment that incorporates evidence-based psycho-social therapy, support systems and medication is very effective. Reach out for help if you or someone you love can benefit from addiction treatment services.