Beloved actor dies from overdose, heroin takes yet another life

There’s a killer on the loose.

In Texas, we like our guns, but a gun won’t stop this killer. Perhaps you’re a doctor, and you think you know how to save yourself, but this killer has proven to be faster than you can fix the damage it’s caused. This killer does not care what you do for a living.

Maybe you are a father. Maybe you are the father of three children. 

Maybe you are a successful actor with a Golden Globe and an Oscar sitting on the shelf of your apartment in New York City. Maybe you think you are safe because you have success, wealth and a family, but you are not. No one is safe. This killer does not discriminate.

We have a heroin problem in America.

On Feb. 2, heroin killed acclaimed actor Philip Seymour Hoffman. He left behind three children, Tallulah, Cooper and Willa.

Hoffman’s friend Aaron Sorkin said it best in Hoffman’s obituary, which was published in Time magazine.

“He died from heroin. We should stop implying that if he’d just taken the proper amount then everything would have been fine. 

He didn’t die because he was partying too hard or because he was depressed — he died because he was an addict on a day of the week with a y in it,” Sorkin said.

Heroin’s heaviest connotation lies in the idea that an addict is someone with nothing else going for them, someone who has been destroyed from the inside out for the love of the high. Our image of a heroin addict is someone who has nothing and no one. Our image of a heroin addict is the final scene of “Requiem for a Dream,” when Jared Leto lies on a hospital bed as a heroin addict who lost everything, including his arm.

“Heroin addict” usually connotates “junkie.” It is harder to imagine a heroin addict as a doctor, a judge, your child, a suburban mom or a father. 

Hoffman’s death elicits an overwhelming reaction not because he was better than most people, but because he was greater.

It’s hard to imagine why someone who is seen as one of the greatest in his craft can also fit the mold of a heroin addict. 

It’s hard to imagine Hoffman, the soul behind Truman Capote, Caden Cotard and Brandt, as another person who fits the mold. In 2014, that mold is made of silicone.

If there is anything to take from the death of Hoffman, it is that America has a heroin problem. Deaths involving heroin in the U.S. increased 45 percent from 2006 to 2010, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

If there is anything Hoffman would have wanted you to take from his death, it was what he said to Sorkin.

“If one of us dies of an overdose, probably 10 people who were about to won’t,” Hoffman said.

Hoffman knew it might not be a matter of if, but a matter of when.

People always say the first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem. Hoffman admitted it. And if his admission was not the first step to his recovery, then at least his death should be the first step for someone else.