“If one of us dies of an overdose, probably 10 people who were about to won’t.” Slightly more than six years after uttering this prophetic statement, Philip Seymour Hoffman fulfilled his own dismal good deed. On Sunday, February 2, 2014, Hoffman was discovered dead, with a needle in his arm, in his Manhattan apartment. The 46-year-old had struggled with substance abuse in the past and recently spent time fighting his addiction to prescription drugs and heroin in rehab.
Friend and colleague Aaron Sorkin crafted a touching obituary for the actor in which he declared Hoffman will “have his well-earned legacy — his Willy Loman that belongs on the same shelf with Lee J. Cobb’s and Dustin Hoffman’s, his Jamie Tyrone, his Truman Capote and his Academy Award. Let’s add to that 10 people who were about to die who won’t now.” Sorkin grew close to the star of Charlie Wilson’s War because he too faces the daily all-consuming hunger for substance abuse.
As heroin-use increases across the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, stars like Hoffman may in fact be doing the drug addicts of the country a favor in some horrible way. One of the many moral dilemmas with this statement, however, introduces the question: Why must it take the loss of a talented entertainment figure to re-introduce the issue of substance abuse?
I realize that using illegal drugs of any kind can provide the abuser with both the rush of the high and that of disobeying the law, but I see no reasoning behind either motivation. I can only hope that, with each highly publicized death, 10 more people decide to drop the habit.