Columns

The Anatomy of Addiction

Philip Seymour Hoffman
Philip Seymour Hoffman
Philip Seymour Hoffman, born July 23, 1967, is an American actor and director. Hoffman began acting in television in 1991, and the following year started to appear in films. | Photo: | Philip Seymour Hoffman, Actor, Oscar, Glasses,

No one is more special than another.

I, like many other addicts, were reminded on Sunday morning of how fatal our disease is. It doesn't care how famous you are. It doesn't care how much money you have, how many children, how much you've tried, what you've been through in the past or what you have planned for the future. If you suffer from addiction, it will do whatever it can to take you down. I've spent time in the last few days in quiet reflection, journaling, going to meetings and moving uncomfortably through fear. Only other addicts can relate to the heartache felt when one of our fellows dies from the disease. It pains me deeply to hear the judgement of news anchors, their panels, and members of the public. They comment and discuss on how a famous person took their life for granted and made the wrong choices. How lucky for those that judge, that they sit in that seat, and not in the seat that relates to the hopeless, shameful and fiercely demonic pulls that the mental illness of addiction has. It is a disease that has a determination, which when treated allows the most talented of gifts to shine, but when untreated will bring on such great obsessions that only cease with the last beat of a heart.

Phillip Seymour Hoffman didn't live in the media frenzy that consumes so many starlets today. He was a family man. A man whose work was respected by all who met him, getting four oscar nominations and winning one for Capote, as well as numerous awards for his work on broadway. As an outsider looking at his life, how would you know of the battles he had in his mind? For twenty three years he had arrested his disease, and then from somewhere the wicked demons arose again. His sobriety and support allowed him, as it does for any of us who are sober, to reach inside of ourselves and see what is clear. We can channel the pain, the acute sensitivity, the raw wounds and the intolerable voices into art. No one is more special than another. It is because of his gifts and his being in the public eye that the disease is being recognized again, his loss being mourned, and now arrests are being made. It has taken too many of the brightest stars the world has seen; Heath Ledger; Amy Winehouse; Elvis Presley; Marilyn Monroe; Janis Joplin; Corey Monteith; Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston are just a few and tragically all under the age of 55.

I get sick listening to or reading the comments of those not afflicted with the illness, as they throwing their low blows. Do you really think that someone with three children, a loving partner, incredible friends, an incredible career, work lined up for the next few years and financial security, had a death wish? He had a disease that wished him dead. There is now scientific evidence which proves that the wiring of an addicts brain is different from someone without addiction. There is proof that a spiritual program rewires the brain and starts after 90 days of being clean and sober. But still, it is a daily reprieve. The illness brings with it feelings of shame, guilt, regret and sabotage. Along with that is the stigma it carries of the addict being selfish, pathetic, a loser, a thief, and a liar. To come to the decision and accept that you are an addict is an enormous step for those suffering. To be judged for it, hurts even more.

Addiction is a recognizable illness and affects 140 million people world wide. There is not a special pill you can take to stop the disease. It is a spiritual solution. I commend those that have come forward with their disease, worked on their recovery and built lives they are proud of. No matter how much time we have clean and sober, we have to stay on our toes and close to those we can trust with the voices of the demonic obsession of the mind. We have to share how we feel, what the voices are saying, thus taking away any power that the disease has over us from keeping secrets. We are fortunate to have had the time we did with those we have loved who have now passed over. If you or someone you know is suffering from this illness, there is a safe place to go where you won't be judged. You can feel secure in that you are not crazy, a deadbeat or a loser but someone who has an illness that can be helped. It will take hard work and you will have to face your fears, the past, and today, but most importantly, you do not have to do it alone.

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Updated Apr 22, 2017 5:50 AM EDT | More details

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