Corrigan Vaughan
432 Comments

A Note About Philip Seymour Hoffman: Addiction Is Not Selfish.

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Philip Seymour HoffmanPhilip Seymour Hoffman‘s death is the worst. Seriously. In much the same way that Chris Kelly‘s was. Or Cory Monteith‘s. And if you’re now looking at me like I’m crazy for even using Hoffman and Monteith in the same article, hear me out: It’s not because they were equal talents. Your opinion on that probably depends on whether you’re fifteen or thirty-five. This is not about losing one of the greatest talents of our time. Their deaths are horrific because they died alone, victims of an incredibly lonely disease. And what’s worse, they didn’t have to be alone. Loving significant others, loving children, admiration from everyone around them — if they could, I’m sure they would have chosen those things.

My dad was my biggest fan. He was the biggest fan of all of his kids. I was probably the only one who realized it, and I understand why. But when he died, wasted away and a shell of his former self after a lethal fall, the only possessions he had were photos of us and letters we’d written him decades ago. He would have liked to have been at our sporting events and our graduations, but instead he was drinking himself to death in a second-floor apartment in my hometown, bipolar disorder only adding immediacy to the fatal inevitabilities of his alcoholism. Anyone who thinks dying from an overdose is selfish has a weird idea of what an addict wants out of life. There comes a point at which drinking, drug use, all that — they’re not fun anymore. Philip Seymour Hoffman wasn’t out partying. He was alone in his bathroom, compelled. Cory Monteith in his hotel room. Chris Kelly in his living room. All the money in the world, all the adoring fans in the world, and, to see the comments people make on their deaths, they were selfish assholes who chose drugs over the people who loved them.

I guarantee that every time Hoffman put that needle in his arm, he felt guilty. He felt conflicted. He craved that high that would take the pain away, but knew the pain he caused himself and those around him every time he took a hit. We all have destructive habits. If we’re lucky, it’s watching too much TV when it’s inhibiting our productivity, or looking at porn when we think it’s a sin, or lying, cheating, overeating. If we’re lucky, our addictions won’t kill us.  The majority of us can go through a partying phase and then grow up, settle down, and put down the sauce. But for an unfortunate group, the need to keep going becomes as pervasive as the need to eat or sleep. And we call them selfish, as if they would prefer to be a slave to the thing that’s ruining everything good in their lives.

When tragedies like these deaths happen to celebrities, they should be a wake-up call for the rest of us. If someone who has everything going for them can be so horribly enslaved to what they know could kill them, imagine what it’s like for the average addict. Addiction is bigger than class, race, religion, or any other factor that one might hope would reduce its captive hold. Succumbing to it isn’t selfish. It’s horribly sad and extremely difficult to prevent, even though it is, in theory, preventable. The way we talk about a celebrity who ODs says a lot about the way we think about people who are struggling around us. It’s time we tried to understand struggles we don’t endure ourselves. It’s called empathy, and we could all use a lot more of it.

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432 Responses to A Note About Philip Seymour Hoffman: Addiction Is Not Selfish.

  1. Charles Mauro February 2, 2014 at 11:54 pm

    Speaking from experience being an ex heroin addict I would respectfully disagree with your hypothesis. Addiction is selfish. Or should I say I was selfish. I overdosed on numerous and never was my first thought on what anyone else would think or feel. My thoughts and concerns were only for my own well being. I know this must sound harsh after someone dies but when it comes down to most addicts with space and opportunity will always choose to do it, NO MATTER WHAT. Unless the family or the people around such person will put them in a predicament that will force them to stop such as poverty, excommunication or abandonment (tough love). I feel bad for this man like I have felt for all those others who have passed on. This is why I thank god for being allowed to see the truth. First that I am selfish and second that in order to not be selfish I would have to many illogical acts of kindness for others so that I can be rid of this selfishness. Yes I am a member of 12 step program. I was selfish cause my feelings mattered a zillion times more than everyone elses, hypersensitivity as well. My condolences to the family and the families of millions of people who have suffered from this disease. I always feel the families of the afflicted suffer more than the alcoholic or addict,.

    Reply
    • Tiffiny February 3, 2014 at 12:12 pm

      Hey Charles – do you feel that it was the heroin making you selfish, though? I think the chemical changes that drugs/alcohol do to us can create very selfish actions and desires, plus lack of wanting to be responsible. I know that alcohol definitely did that to me, which is why I had to cut it out. Our addicted selves and our sober selves our two completely different people.

      -Tiffiny

      Reply
      • Adam February 4, 2014 at 1:25 pm

        The heroin making you selfish? Why would someone do Heroin in the first place? Out of selfish desires I would think (if voluntary of course). Drugs themselves cannot be blamed for what makes people do bad things, or OD on them. Ultimately it is a person’s decision on whether or not to shoot up or whatever. I understand addictions make you do things you do not want to “really do.” Paul says in Romans 7:15 ESV “For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do they very thing that I hate.” I do not mean sound like I am attacking you Tiffany. I just believe that alcohol, I don’t know enough about heroin, amplify a person’s inner desires.

        Reply
    • Scruff February 3, 2014 at 12:38 pm

      I think you missed the point. Being addicted is not selfish. Choosing to start doing drugs is selfish, but once you are officially “addicted”, fun is no longer in your vocabulary. How can it be considered selfish to be a slave to something else? Yeah, all I care about is me being continuously tortured by the need for a substance…That’s what I cherish most, let me tell ya. No, it’s not selfish to be addicted, it’s a fucking atrocity. It’s selfish to start drugs, but once you’re hookoed, it no longer becomes a matter of being selfish, it’s a matter of life and death that needs to be helped immediately.

      Being selfish would insinuate that the person prefers being that way. I guarantee you no one prefers to be addicted. All addicts want out of their vicious cycle whether they admit it or not. All addicts want to wake up and be free from the binds of drugs, to be able to go about your day with nothing more than a little food and drink, that would be a miracle for an addict.

      Reply
    • Wolfbear February 3, 2014 at 3:07 pm

      I agree with you Charles. I’m a heroin addict who just hit 3 years clean, and I can say with confidence that when I am using I am nothing but selfish, and even now 3 years clean and working a program I am still selfish at times, but I work on it as best I can and am much more kind than before. Also, when I look at the world around, I see much selfishness everywhere, making me believe it is a human condition as well as an addicts condition. That being said, I also see kindness around us, so it is good to know we have the choice and hopefully more will come to the side of clean selfless healthy love.

      Reply
      • sue February 4, 2014 at 1:06 am

        So are you saying that somebody who is just looking for help can’t post here

        Reply
    • Jason February 3, 2014 at 4:51 pm

      Charles, I get what you’re saying. I have over two years myself and have definitely realized and tried to set right my self-centered past. But I do fully believe that I am sick with a progressive disease that I did not choose. The point of this article is that addiction is not simply a moral failing – an opinion that much of our society holds, and one that stems from a world of ignorance and misunderstanding. Why would any of us have chosen to live the way that we did? For me, it was because of a physical allergy and mental obsession beyond my control. I’m still accountable for the selfish things that I did while using, but ultimately I was a sick person who didn’t have a choice.

      As a side note, it’s disappointing to see so many recovering addicts/alcoholics posting on here with full disregard for the Traditions of their respective Programs. Shut the hell up.

      Reply
    • mother of an addict February 3, 2014 at 9:31 pm

      thank you Charles. The idea that addicts are not selfish is kind of blowing my mind. I am not saying I do not love my addict…but come on…lying, self absorbed, entitled, deceptive, stealing….. the guilt and amends making are a tiny part of their time and personality. All that other stuff is what the rest of us deal with on a daily basis. It is heart breaking and will break down the loved ones long before it breaks down the addict.

      Reply
    • Greyson Rennels February 3, 2014 at 9:42 pm

      I felt selfish and guilty and happy all of it when i banged.

      Reply
    • Steve Wilson February 4, 2014 at 9:30 am

      Addiction is NOT selfish. Very often the addict acts in selfish ways – but those are ABSOLUTELY separate things. I lied – I stole – I used almost everyone – because my addiction left me no other way to feed the beast that had to be fed. I started my addiction partying. I ended it by living in a way that *I* knew was wrong. I had contempt for the way that I lived and treated others, but as is usually the case with addicts, I was either convinced that it would be different “if only” – or I was just too wasted to really give a damn. At the end, I wasn’t partying. Ever. I was just trying not to hurt as much as I did if I didn’t lie, cheat, steal and use people enough to keep enough booze/drugs in my bloodstream.

      That’s lonely. And a pitiful and contemptible way to exist. But one thing it really isn’t is selfish.

      Reply
  2. Ross February 3, 2014 at 12:58 am

    Incredibly well said. Thank you!

    Reply
  3. Lauren February 3, 2014 at 1:39 am

    Thank you so much for this piece. I can’t even express how very true this is, and how very necessary. Shared, and so thankful to you for writing it.

    Reply
  4. Phil February 3, 2014 at 1:53 am

    Thank you for this…Those of us who have come out the other side appreciate your compassion for those who were not as fortunate. Really…I am forever grateful.

    Reply
  5. Jennifer Dicus February 3, 2014 at 2:50 am

    Amen! Having known someone who died from this same thing, and watching a best friend struggle with alcohol and drugs right now, this is very true. Empathy is key!!! We never know another person’s demons!

    Reply
  6. Billie February 3, 2014 at 3:33 am

    Tragic . . . and yes we all need more empathy!!!

    Reply
  7. JAY Edwards February 3, 2014 at 7:11 am

    Drug use IS a selfish act. Ask any of his 3 children. Speaking as a drug interventionist, you couldn’t be more wrong.

    Reply
    • Barry February 3, 2014 at 1:46 pm

      Would you say that cancer is selfish? Or lupus? Or asthma?

      As a drug interventionist I would think that you might be able to understand that.

      Negating help is, but being in the grips you don’t make a conscious decision to say, “Yeah, fuck all those people, I’m gonna keep doing drugs.” The disease doesn’t work according to logic or normal thinking.

      Reply
      • Mike February 3, 2014 at 2:29 pm

        Did you really equate using drugs to fucking cancer? How stupid are you?

        A person, in 99.9% of all cases, chooses to use drugs. A lot of people get cancer by no choice of their own. Asthma? Seriously. Choosing to do drugs is being compared to being born with asthma.

        You need to seriously re-evaluate your shit.

        Reply
        • Jim February 3, 2014 at 5:04 pm

          Your a fucking moron, it’s a disease exactly like cancer and depression is a disease. It screws up the way you think, lowers your conscience, and messes with your logic artificially. You need to re evaluate your education level kid.

          Reply
          • Mike February 3, 2014 at 5:20 pm

            No one has ever become addicted without first trying something. People get cancer every dayjust by sheer fucking bad luck.

            Also, before you go and tell someone to re-evaluate their education level, figure out the difference between the words your and you’re. Here is the first lesson.

            Your = Your education level sucks.
            You’re = You’re a fucking idiot.

          • Cat February 4, 2014 at 11:16 am

            I am an addict in 12-step recovery. I had the symptoms of the disease of addiction long before ever using drugs. I did not chose to have this disease, I self medicated with drugs and alcohol. I have not used in a long time and I still have the disease. As an addict, living life without the use of drugs is extremely difficult but it is possible.

          • DuchessofNYC February 4, 2014 at 11:35 am

            Addiction is by definition “selfish” in that it locks you into a very narrow, distorted, restricted sense of “self” … you don’t care about the world or others around you.

            To kick addiction requires, among other things, an expanded sense of self, a willingness to be in the world and recognize your impact on others around you.

            The title of this article is therefore kinda silly. It’s not such a moral judgement to say addiction is selfish, it just is. It is an affliction that one needs to work very very hard to evolve past.

            No one said you shouldn’t have empathy and seek to assist anyone in such a troubled position, but nothing will change unless they choose to change. And that means also acknowledging the selfishness of one’s addiction… and getting treatment

        • John K February 4, 2014 at 12:10 am

          I am a recovering addict and alcoholic. I work at a treatment center. I am a member of a 12-step program. I can guarantee you, Mike, that I myself, the people I go to meetings with, and the patients that I treat routinely used and/or drank when we did NOT want to. There was a point where I choose to use. After I had became addicted, I didn’t choose to drink or use, I absolutely had to. Mr. Hoffman may have found himself in that position. Mie, I hope you can see through your ignorance and be aware of the struggle that addiction causes. Too many good people give up their struggle to just such opinions from others. “There but for the grace of God, go I.” TYG for today, welcome Phillip with open arms.

          Reply
          • Mike February 4, 2014 at 8:46 am

            You are missing the point. At some point in time, addicts, all of them, choose to begin their behavior. After it, they still choose to continue it (otherwise people wouldn’t be in recovery and sober for years and lifetimes after becoming addicts). Is it tougher to quit once addicted? Absolutely. But it is still a choice.

            Getting cancer? Asthma? No choice involved at all. You just wind up with bad luck in the game of life.

            I know plenty of addicts unfortunately. I have had a family member lose his life to it. I have seen several more people throw away their families and lives to their various addictions (heroine, alcohol, pain killers).

            I understand addiction and addicts. I don’t understand how someone can possibly try and compare something you choose to do and something that you don’t choose to do like get cancer or get asthma.

        • stevejohansen February 4, 2014 at 2:04 pm

          Hey “Mike”
          Are you fucking retarded?!?–It’s called the disease of addiction for a reason. I work around addicts all the time, and yes, it is true that a lot of them are scumbags out to feed their own “beast” as a prior commentator put it. 99.9% of them have immersed in their DISEASE so heavily, the walls built so thick that they are perceived as scumbags, when in essence they are kind, loving individuals. The DISEASE of addiction forces them to act out in their ways. Their brain chemistry legitimately shifts. That is why almost all addicts are dual diagnosed with psych issues… such as Bipolar Disorder, or manic depressive… its part of the fucking culture. They are happy when they use, and miserable when they are out. This carries over to the way they act/live in society. So, it may seem self inflicted, or a choice to idiotic “interventionists” like yourself, but to the addict and people affected with their actions and such it is merely part of the disease.
          My ex-wife is an addict in active addiction right now. I had to set strong boundaries. I put her through rehab and she left AMA. TWICE! The third time she met “the love” of her life and is currently using with him. Yes, it hurts me, but it’s all part of the disease. She has had glimpses where she tried to contact me, but for the most part she’s engulfed, imprisoned by her own DISEASE. Now, as a man, I refuse to ever take her back, but as a human being, I acknowledge, no matter how hard it may be for me to acknowledge that her disease is running rampant. It’s a hard conclusion to come to. Especially first hand.
          I would really like to know what facilities you work for as an interventionist and your credentials… I highly doubt that anyone with any type of addiction experience will let you near their patients.
          And as for you other idiots…. keep your 12 step participation to yourself. They have the traditions for a reason. The shit works without advertisement and its purpose is attraction. Please keep your participation to these programs to yourselves for the sanctity and respect of the programs that save millions of lives! Think of this: What if some addict, or alcoholic seeking help saw the slanderous posts you wrote, or caught wind of your political opinions, which highly differed from theirs… there is a chance they would be turned off from seeking recovery due to those simple facts. Please, I implore that you keep your involvement out of postings and everything else other than meetings!

          I feel sorry for PSH and his family. Many are afflicted with this disease and do not know how to quell it. Many are embarrassed to ask for help– part of the reason is because of “interventionists” like the guy up there telling sick and suffering addicts to “re-evaluate your shit.” asshole.

          Reply
      • Sean McCullough February 4, 2014 at 7:42 am

        Comparing people with cancer, lupus and asthma to drug addiction is apples and oranges. Addiction isn’t a disease. It’s a learned behavior that takes a lot of work to unlearn the best one can. Unfortunately it’s like riding a bike. The mind never forgets. Addicts can go to meetings and live a fantastic life. If someone with cancer, lupus, and asthma get a sponsor and go to meetings they are still going to be sick or quite possibly die. Addiction is very selfish. This thread as a whole has been about the addict…not the kids, the parents, friends etc. Addiction is not a ‘victimless crime’. Everyone pays. Just because an addict ‘doesn’t really want to do drugs’ it doesn’t change the fact that others are suffering with the addict. As a former addict I used to get sick and tired of hearing people talk about how selfish I was. They were right though. It is the most self centered behavior you can possibly find. I liked Phillip Hoffman. Great actor. But he chose the path he took. I guarantee someone if not several people have tried to get him help numerous times. It’s sad but addicts can make up enough excuses for themselves they don’t need everyone else doing it for them.

        Reply
        • Daneah February 4, 2014 at 11:01 am

          I beg to differ- only because it has been scientifically proven that addiction can be genticially predisposed. You always hear the phrase “yeah, addiction runs in my family..” And other various forms of that claim. That’s because it’s true. And therefore addiction can be out in the se category as other diseases or sicknesses such as cancer or asthma. And if you are going to use the argument “well, people have to choose to try a substance to get addicted to it” Lets be real- everyone (well the vast majority of human beings espicially in western societies) is going to be exposed to a sip if wine, a casul beer, a hit of a cigarette or a joint. When you’re 15 you’re not going to be thinking “Well gee, there has been some research done and it’s a possibility that I may be pre disposed to addiction so I better not try my first beer at this party with my friends as the teenager that I am”… Let’s be real here and get the facts straight

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          • DuchessofNYC February 4, 2014 at 11:12 am

            Yes, there is genetic predisposition, but that means you have to be more vigilant. Not saying it’s easy, but to say you have no power over addiction is to capitulate. Even if you say it’s up to the “higher power” to stay clean–you have to choose to appeal to that higher power and choose to stick with it, even if you fall off the wagon. Most people seem to OD when they fall off the wagon because they have lost their tolerance that they had when they were steady users. But regardless, this is a “selfish” mindset–addiction keeps you locked inside a very restricted concept of self. You don’t care about the outside world or how your actions impact others around you. So to say it’s not selfish just seems silly to me.

          • Cricket February 4, 2014 at 11:37 am

            Or as a friend of mine tells those he’s been mentoring in AA for thirty-five years, “It’s not your fault you’re an alcoholic. It *is* your fault if you’re a drunk.”

            The physical traits that contribute to addiction are very real – his point is, when it comes right down to it, nobody holds anyone down and pours beer in their face.

    • Paula February 3, 2014 at 5:49 pm

      To paint the entire addiction process with a “selfish brush” seems excessive. Of course, there is choice, but the fact is that being addicted reduces/eliminates your very ability to make ones other than getting the next fix.Should one never try drugs? Probably, but some people do because they are depressed, anxious, etc. Just because everyone doesn’t succumb doesn’t make those who do don’t deserve empathy.

      Reply
    • Steve Wilson February 4, 2014 at 10:53 am

      It’s amazing that a “drug interventionalist” hasn’t grasped the concept that addiction is an illness. You may believe it’s a moral issue, but I assure you (and the AMA assures you) that it is not. I can’t count the number of days when I woke up that I SWORE I was going to stay straight & sober – just for that day – and was wasted before noon. Once my addiction had taken hold, I was no longer partying and my life choices were being made by my addiction.

      Reply
  8. Jamie Stewart February 3, 2014 at 7:21 am

    More than 30,000 Americans die as a result of drug overdose each year. That’s 105 per day. For most of us, unless they are an A List Celebrity, we generally spare little thought, pity, or concern for who they were or their circumstance. Mostly they are damaged lonely souls who suffer from a tremendous sense of loss and despair. As a culture, we need to stop casually ignoring the plight of these people and realize that every one of these deaths was preventable. As a nation we are vigorously debating the de criminalization and legalization if drugs, a very poor idea in my mind. We’ve become cynical and apathetic as a nation when it comes to this scourge. There’s too much selfishness to go round. What does it say about us as a nation that we swell with pity for a person who had everything, and died leaving his children fatherless with a needle in his arm, but step blindly over the other 104 corpses each day? Hoffmans death isn’t unduly tragic or sad, merely stupid and ultimately preventable.

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  9. Jenn February 3, 2014 at 7:22 am

    Thanks for writing this Corri. My cousin passed away after overdosing on heroin and his addiction became too big of a monster for him to handle. What started as a selfish need for a high became something he couldn’t control. It’s heartbreaking to see addiction steal potential and life.

    Reply
    • Mark February 3, 2014 at 4:03 pm

      But when he started that selfish need for a high, he surely knew it was an extremely addictive drug. One that few can control. It’s not like we haven’t known for many decades how devastating heroin can be.

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      • Jenn February 3, 2014 at 9:28 pm

        Yeah, maybe. But I think we’ve also started to accept the fact that addition is also a disease. I don’t think people start doing drugs thinking, this decision will kill me, alone in my apartment in however many years.

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      • greggarious February 4, 2014 at 2:25 pm

        Drugs are not addictive, people are. Genetic predisposition is a myth, else why are black people still in their tribal lives in Africa fine and their relatives in american inner cities addicted? Same genetics, different histories and circumstances. It is trauma, including abandonment, abuse, dislocation, poverty, malnourishment, neglect, and despair that are the roots of addiction. Not genetics. And the substances are not themselves addictive, only the type of person that tries and continues to use them.

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  10. Sarah February 3, 2014 at 7:41 am

    Overeating, while not as immediately dangerous as substance abuse is no better. But I only add this because I’ve had an eating disorder for 10 years, am miserable with my bulimia, am at risk of a heart attack each time I purge, and have no idea how to stop despite my desire to. Thank you for giving me some peace in your note. We are alone, we are miserable, and many times, it’s not even our fault. RIP PSH.

    Reply
    • Vil February 3, 2014 at 11:34 pm

      Sarah, look up Overeaters Anonymous. This is a 12 Step Group for those who are anorexic, bulimic, over eaters, anyone who has issues with food. You will find thin people, heavy people and those who appear to be fit. All walks of life, all backgrounds. I just returned from a meeting!

      Good luck!

      Reply
  11. Tom Moran February 3, 2014 at 8:35 am

    Any abuse of vice is selfish. Your reasoning is circular. So the first few times the needle went in the arm that was selfish but when it became an addiction well now that’s different? No, addiction is the epitomy of selfishness.

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  12. Sin February 3, 2014 at 8:41 am

    Is this a joke? Sure, we could all use more empathy, but I’ll reserve mine for those who do not piss their lives away for no reason. There is no excuse for this. None. If you have ever witnessed drug addiction, you know it is without a doubt the most selfish thing a person can do.

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  13. David McKinnon February 3, 2014 at 8:52 am

    I agree with much of your comments but disagree with the “addiction is not selfish” part. As a recovering alcoholic and drug addict what I know to be true is this. Addiction prevention is not a theory. I know scores of people who have recovered. There are simple things that I must do in my daily life to keep my connection to a power that solves my problem. I, like Mr Hoffman relapsed after years of not using and getting back into recovery was a struggle. The process to become clean and sober if followed with honesty, open mindless and willingness to do the work will always deliver. I think that prior to a relapse a person gets more selfish and focus more on work, family , etc… And less on the things that keep them sober. After a period of time the disease comes through and taking a drink or drug makes more sense then not. That is selfish. I decision was made to not do the work. My ego and my pride are my enemies when they are not kept in check. Sad that Mr. Hoffman could not get back into the ” recovering” lifestyle. It makes me sad to think of his children, partner, family and fans. RIP P.S.H.

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    • Paulo April February 4, 2014 at 9:34 am

      Was I selfish?? Never!! Selfish where the people that didn’t want me to drink after all I did for them. How sad the ignorance of so many that have commented here. Addiction is a disease and I didn’t get it by any repetitive abuse. The first time I drank alcohol I loved so much the feeling I got that I drank myself into a coma. I was 13…and I did carry on for another 23 years. I’ve been clean and sober now for 20 years but that I can only thank to my surrender to a power greater than myself. And also accepting that I’m sick as denial is one of the worst symptoms of this disease!

      Reply
  14. Greg t February 3, 2014 at 9:03 am

    I disagree completely. As a former addict myself, WE have that choice to put the needle in our arm. No one else is forcing us to do it but ourselves. 90% of the time we don’t care what others think, and we refuse their help. It is selfish whether you like it or not. Do you think he was thinking about his kids when he was shooting up? No… It is a selfish act. It doesn’t matter if they were alone or not. Most od’s happen when a person is by themselves. I have zero feelings of sympathy for people who overdose because no one is doing this to them but themselves.

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  15. dawn February 3, 2014 at 9:22 am

    Yes, addiction is horrible. I come from a family of alcoholics and have known many drug addicts. My heart hurts for them. BUT stop calling addiction a disease! Nobody forced them to try drugs or alcohol. Our society knows both are dangerous and people still choose to try it and some get addicted. Let’s stop enabling people and allowing them to be the victim, taking all accountability away, it is not a disease.

    Reply
  16. Simona Cassatly February 3, 2014 at 9:25 am

    I respectfully disagree. As a substance abuse counselor, parent and ex smoker I can tell you this. Recovery is about the realization that the world does not revolve around your needs and desires, that you are part of a larger entity, and that the key to your own happiness is to concentrate more on giving rather than taking. Studies show that tobacco is one of the most addictive substances and thus it is the hardest addiction to kick. I can tell you from experience that THE ONLY reason I am now a non smoker is because I need to be available to my children. It is my job as a parent to ensure that I do everything in my power to love, teach, and protect them. In recovery people say “you prove your love to your family every day by not using”. And that is so true. You say empathy is so important. It surely is. My empathy goes out to his loved ones who will have to struggle to reconcile losing him, missing him,always wondering if they failed him in some way and living with a tremendous amount of guilt. His children growing up without a father is the true tragedy here.

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    • Deb February 4, 2014 at 12:05 am

      Well put.

      Reply
  17. HemmHonn Jones February 3, 2014 at 9:36 am

    This article is well written and has a positive message, but just one clarification. If you are not an addict, and you cannot identify with the struggles of an addict, you cannot empathize with the addict, you can only sympathize. To empathize with someone, you have to have been in their situation.

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    • Carei February 3, 2014 at 11:18 am

      There is a fine line between empathy and enabling. I don’t know the answers.

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    • xxxxxxxx February 3, 2014 at 1:53 pm

      that’s not what empathy means, actually. empathy is simply the ability to imagine and understand what someone is feeling. you can certainly do that without having shared the same experiences as another.

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    • Rodney February 3, 2014 at 2:25 pm

      If that were true, acting would be impossible.

      Reply
  18. jcerne February 3, 2014 at 9:41 am

    Can we clarify what is meant by “selfish” and acknowledge that their are different degrees and forms of “selfishness”?

    everyones selfish when it comes to enduring discomfort and the very real sensations of discomfort that accompany addiction need to be acknowledged. The selfishness of an addict is not the same as the selfishness of a greedy banker or a child who wont give up their toys. The addict in recovery is forever walking around with an itch they are forbidden to scratch, because they consequences can be fatal.

    ask yourself if you had that burning itch that could not be scratched, that plagued you day in and day out, and one day in a moment of weakness, you give it an itch….is that really selfish? or is that simply human?

    even amongst recovering addicts i see this self loathing urge to view themselves as unusually shameful because of this perceived “selfishness”. in my mind calling an addict “selfish” because they face a struggle with self control is unfair. Its like calling someone who is dyslexic selfish if they fall behind in their reading. non addicts arent better people, self control just comes easier to us.

    Reply
  19. Keir February 3, 2014 at 9:42 am

    Thank you for this article. I agree whole heartedly. As someone who is 17+ years sober from booze and drugs, I can tell you without hesitation that if I could have stopped drinking/drugging any earlier then I did, I would have. It just wasn’t possible. I was completely addicted to the high, the “fun”, the late nights. I had NO idea my drinking/drugging was a problem until I was in my first AA meeting. Up until that point, I was pretty confident that they were not the problem, everyone around me and every situation was. I was young and just having a good time, doing what everyone else was doing. Right? So, so wrong. I had to destroy my life and go through a lot of very traumatic, harrowing experiences and hit my bottom before I was able to truly see what the problem was. I would never have intentionally chosen 12 years of hell for myself and those around me. Never. Did I have a choice to not drink and not drug? No, I certainly did not, which is what the definition of an addict is.

    Reply
  20. Ruby February 3, 2014 at 9:49 am

    Thank you so much for writing this beautiful yet tragic article.

    It wasn’t long ago that I flippantly spouted off about the selfishness of such an act. That is the way I had learned through the conditioning of ‘programs’ to respond to such ‘selfish’ acts.

    I believe we do this because we have not yet learned of ‘humane’ ways of responding, and tend to put it in it’s box, so that we can carry on.

    For the first time in all of my addiction ‘career’, after having spouted off the ‘recommended’ ways of ‘dealing’ with ‘such people’, I was quickly ‘schooled’ by a much wiser person, that those who cannot think beyond that next fix, is in a world of agony that needs empathy and understanding rather than more harshness.

    Reply
  21. Kate February 3, 2014 at 10:01 am

    Completely agree – you got it spot on. Thank you for writing this. No one knows the torment an addict goes through, and the guilt and desire to be free, than someone who has been on the inside. There is a reason it is described as “struggling” with addiction – it is truly a struggle, and not an issue to simply brush off as a selfish act.

    Reply
  22. Alexandra February 3, 2014 at 10:03 am

    Thank you. As a recovering alcoholic, everything that you wrote in this article is true. The “choice” in the disease is complicated and convoluted. People relapse far before they ever drink or drug. This disease is a disease of the brain — if left untreated it will result in death. May God rest Mr. Hoffman’s soul.

    Reply
  23. Alexandra February 3, 2014 at 10:04 am

    (Side: the individuals who are saying they are a “former addict” or “former alcoholic” are likely not; as any true addict knows we never STOP being an addict. We’ll be addicts for the rest of our lives, we are just either in recovery or not.)

    Reply
  24. Sampson February 3, 2014 at 10:24 am

    Wonderfully written article. For all of those who commented who are in recovery… putting the needle in his arm was a CHOICE? And THAT’S why he’s selfish? I feel as if you all missed the mark there. Being POWERLESS over your disease means having lost the power of choice. There is no choice. We are at defense against the first drink or drug unless we can find a power to supplement our powerlessness. Yes, selfishness is the root of our problems, but being powerless is not selfish. @Charles Mauro.. If consequences such as a family leaving or poverty keep you sober, than good for you, but the Big Book classifies that as a hard drinker not a real alcoholic. Memory knowledge and will power cannot permanently keep a powerless person sober.

    Reply
  25. Wolf February 3, 2014 at 10:28 am

    Thank you for what you wrote here.

    As for all of those people in the comments who disagree with you, they all had a second chance, they all had reasons they were able to not be the addict who overdosed. But they don’t know that there was something in them or their environment that provided that escape / recovery–something that those who die do not have.

    I’m bipolar and I struggle with alcoholism. But I am lucky; I had advantages that most people who are bipolar or alcoholic do not have. Genius IQ, a high level of education, many other activities that provide relief from the anxieties that I sometimes turn to alcohol to relieve. A lack of early exposure to alcohol. The medical insurance to cover a therapist and a doctor; the good fortune to run into a GOOD doctor and a GOOD therapist.

    Even some of the most horrible things in my life–and the way I reacted to them, and the help I had from friends and strangers–have provided me with leverage to stay on top of things. But because those things have been tenuous and painful, I recognize that they cannot be taken for granted. Anyone might not have had those advantages–even a single one, such as access to alcohol as a 9 year-old–and I would probably be dead, or in prison, or on the streets with a drug or alcohol problem.

    For those who escaped the chemistry and psychology of addiction, it can be VERY important to believe that it is all controllable. And for them, it did come under their control. They would not have been able to bring all their strength to bear against it if they had not been convinced that it was under their control, or their higher power’s control.

    For those who did not have enough factors / strengths / luck to bring it under their control, we can’t assume that it was selfish. All we know is that they lost the battle and died–and no creature wants to die. They would have done otherwise if they could have.

    Reply
  26. Peggy February 3, 2014 at 10:29 am

    It seems to me that the FIRST time he used heroin he was being very selfish. Everyone knows that heroin is a dangerous and highly addictive drug, so when he made that first
    decision he was being very selfish indeed.

    Reply
  27. Stephanie February 3, 2014 at 10:31 am

    I don’t agree at all. Addiction is selfishness to the nth level. When you hit bottom, you think ‘Poor me!’; when you’re on top of it you think ‘I’m invincible!’

    Empathy is difficult for the majority of a population that has never struggled with addiction. Unless you’ve personally gone through being unable to stop yourself from committing slow suicide, empathy is impossible. Addicts don’t need empathy, and they need don’t need touchy-feely BS from people who have no clue what true selfishness is.

    Most addicts have that wake up call: when you realize you’re going to die unless you stop what you’re doing and never do it again…and Mr. Hoffman was no different. When he put himself into that lonely room, he already placed the needle in his arm. In fact, if you knew anything about addiction, he had a plan to make that happen long before it actually did, and all that time was his opportunity to be UNselfish and call someone to help.

    What you could have written about and highlighted is a need for sympathy and help for those he left behind on how to deal with this. They are the ones who deserve our empathy.

    Reply
  28. Donna-Lee February 3, 2014 at 10:34 am

    It’s unfortunately that so many recovered addicts blame themselves and criticize themselves for being selfish…makes me wonder how many of them are internalizing our societies opinion. My mother was an addict, and I do not blame her for the pain she put me through any longer, although it was a hard journey to forgiveness. Addiction is not selfish in the sense that most people think about it. Yes, my mother did drugs and it almost ruined and still has lasting effects on her children’s lives. Did she not care for us? Did she not try to provide and stop using? She did, many times. But addiction, and particularly heroin addiction, is basically impossible to completely recover from. and you can say someone can if they “want” it enough, but i dont endorse this idea, because whether or not you want to admit it, the person has a chemical dependency and their brain actually NEEDS the drug. My mother always told me how much she loved me, and I believe her, I believe her now when we talk on the phone and she tells me she tried to give me everything I needed. But she was a single mother, incredibly poor, with five children, and not enough emotional support. Our society makes it hard to fight addiction for many reasons that I wont bother going into. All I can say is, is that addiction is tragic. and there are so many aspects to it that need to be addressed. I hope one day we can effectively prevent it on a mass scale.

    Reply
  29. In Recovery February 3, 2014 at 10:34 am

    This is an excellent perspective for someone not having suffered themselves from addiction or alcoholism. As an addict myself, seven years removed from a drink or a drug, I can tell you that it is absolutely true that the last years of my using I felt regular regret and guilt and shame and loneliness every day. Every time I used heroin or cocaine or alcohol. But I did it anyway. An overdose in of itself is not selfish. We are not exactly choosing the drugs or alcohol over family or loved ones or even worldly things like jobs or homes or money. Although on the surface an addict or alcoholic may act like they don’t care how their actions are affecting others, deep down in the depths of their soul they know and it is a pain they cannot deal with. An overdose is not, as an individual act, selfish. However, I can absolutely report that addicts and alcoholics are inherently self-centered, which in turn leads to selfish behaviors. We suffer from a perspective problem, we only see the world as it relates to us and our plans and designs, our dreams and goals, our pain and suffering, our triumphs, our failures, our life. And therefore, while we do care for others and are concerned with their lives and their feelings and how our actions may impact them, at the end of the day that pales in comparison to how things effect ME. Therefore, an overdose is not necessarily a selfish act, but it is the end result of self-centered, selfish behaviors. I feel horribly that this happened. I feel even worse for the children he left behind. I know for me, my job is to continue walking a path of growth and taking actions that make sure that my own perception isn’t so skewed and to make sure I try and offer that solution to others that seek help.

    Reply
  30. Chris February 3, 2014 at 10:34 am

    Corrigan,
    You are one lost puppy. I have empathy for you. I strongly encourage you to step into an “Anonymous” meeting and listen to some of the stories and learn a bit more about this disease. It would also be wise for you to do this not only for your professional career, but since the gene is in your family. I wish you all the best.

    God bless,
    C

    Reply
  31. Kevin February 3, 2014 at 10:41 am

    I’m sorry about your Dad and sad to learn about the depth/extent of PSH’s addiction, but drug use is a selfish act from beginning to end. Drug use and alcohol abuse stem from the choices we make. I understand that many want to classify addiction as a disease which takes away some of the sting and all of the responsibility – cancer is a disease. Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s are diseases. Leukemia is a disease. Knowing the risks involved with sticking a needle in your arm or inhaling coke or smoking meth, then doing it any way makes it a selfish, conscious choice.

    Reply
  32. Andrea February 3, 2014 at 10:49 am

    I disagree with you completely. Everyone knows heroin kills and sticking the needle in your arm is a choice. It is a selfish choice. To say that a person is too weak to do the work and beat addiction sells that person short. I believe that people are strong enough even when weighed down by a huge pile of heroin or meth or whatever their vice is. PSH was clean for many years because, as he said, he knew it would kill him. Knowing that he went back to it. He knew he had people who loved him and yet he still went back to something he knew would kill him. He chose his fate. My heart breaks for his family as it does for every other family who has lost a loved one to this disgusting drug, but I will not say he was a victim. And I will not say he had a disease, he had an addiction. He made selfish choices and those choices caused his death.

    Reply
  33. Research before you speak February 3, 2014 at 10:49 am

    Greg T and people like you, you’re part of the problem. You clearly haven’t done the research.
    Addiction is no different than cancer.
    You can’t rationalize with it, you can’t speak to it, you can’t make it feel shame or embarrassment. To say so is ignorant, irresponsible, and asinine.

    That is a huge reason most addicts keep it a secret: fear of being misunderstood & criticized. They feel they have nowhere to turn for help.

    Reply
    • Jennifer February 3, 2014 at 8:14 pm

      Are you kidding me? How dare you call cancer the same as addiction! You can’t even compare them. Cancer is a disease…being addicted to drugs is NOT a disease. Deciding to do drugs is a choice, people that get cancer don’t have a choice, they just get it, have the fight of their life and die an agonizing death, or if they’re lucky, they beat it after going to hell and back. So using your logic…let’s just say there is cancer in a hypodermic needle and you can get it if it’s injected into your arm…..knowing this fact, would you choose to inject cancer into your arm??? I would think not, find me one person who would say that they would choose to give themselves cancer. They wouldn’t because it is a death sentence, it’s a DISEASE. Yet people inject drugs into their arms everyday! Because addiction is NOT a disease!! I bet if you ask those same heroin injecting people to inject cancer into their arm, they would say, hell, no! Drug users have a choice. They don’t have to experiment with drugs, they don’t have to shoot up heroin, that is a choice that many, many people say no to everyday, that many, many people wouldn’t even think of doing, doesn’t even cross their mind! Not to mention these poor downtrodden people that lost their job or whatever and “turn to drugs”, you would think the last thing on their mind would be to spend what little money they have on heroin, talk about selfish! You actually have to make conscious choices to say, hey, I think I’ll find a drug dealer, ask around where I can score some heroin…then they go through with buying it, then injecting it, etc. Then to say, hey, this stuff is great, I’m going to continue spending my money and injecting it into me on a daily basis because that’s what normal people do, right? I don’t know any better. I haven’t heard what drugs do to you or our loved ones….I’m not living in this world….drugs must be something that is socially acceptable and not illegal at all!! Really? You’re telling me we should feel sorry for these people? It’s a disease, huh? Try telling that to these poor people who have not chosen to inject heroin into their bodies, yet they have cancer from just random bad luck of the draw….my best friend died of cervical cancer. She was 37. She fought so hard for years. She thought she was going to beat it even though she had a colostomy bag because they removed almost all of her insides. She had a young son who had to watch her wither away. I was with her at Hospice with her looking like an unrecognizable skeleton when she took her last breath. She never did drugs a day in her life. So you’re telling me if she had a choice on whether to get cancer by injecting herself with it, she would do it? Because drugs are the same as cancer, they’re both diseases? That is a slap in the face to the many poor souls that have fatal diseases, who WANT to live, who didn’t ask to die. As far as celebrities go, I have no sympathy. They have everything they could want, yet they CHOOSE to piss it all away. Awww, poor guy, he had a sitcom in the works, won an award, was an acclaimed actor (I really did love his acting), had a loving wife and 3 small children, he had it so rough. I know people will say, he must have had emotional issues or whatever, poor guy. Yeah, him and every other person in the world, yet we don’t choose to do drugs. My husband was killed in a plane crash when our daughter was 2…..did I turn to drugs, did I lose my mind, did I give up…no, I didn’t, I couldn’t. I kept it together for my daughter and for my husband’s memory. I knew he would want me to be strong for her, my love for him and her and for life transcended any self-pity I could have indulged in. So, do I feel bad when celebrities OD, yes, I feel bad they chose to end their life when so many people didn’t choose it or are fighting for their life on a daily basis the noble way. Do I feel empathy or sympathy or whatever for them. No, I feel that for the loved ones they left behind due to their selfishness. Yes, I said it…selfishness. They made that original selfish decision to inject the needle of heroin into their arms in the first place. Period.

      Reply
      • Natalie February 4, 2014 at 1:03 am

        How about a cancer patient, 17 years old, stage 4 Hodgkin’s, being prescribed Morphine lolly pops, oxys, and anything else you could imagine, they got addicted because of these asshole pain management doctors, so that wasn’t enough anymore, so they then turn to heroin. Are they selfish? You don’t know any situation until you have been there! Anyone who has not been in that situation or has never been addicted has no room to accuse someone of being selfish and absolutely has no room to judge anyone!!! This has to be the worst drug out there. It takes complete control of your body and mind, you don’t even have a choice to be selfish, the drug will take over that for you. Whoever thinks its selfish needs to educate themselves and shut the fuck up and how dare you comment like that to someone’s son! I pray for his family and dear friends and he is at peace now. Yes, the people that loved him are devastated and sad, but no one can imagine how trapped and hurt he probably felt, trapped and cursed by this horrible addiction. So sorry for you all!!!

        Reply
  34. Steve Sassi February 3, 2014 at 10:55 am

    Would anyone here call Hoffman selfish had he died of cancer? Why is it so hard to remember, even among those of us who suffer with this thing, that it’s a disease, a powerful deadly disease that’s in remission? Did he have a beautiful life with fame, success, love, talent, a family with children, a life worth living? Yes. Did all that stop the disease of addiction? Why would it? Would any of that stop cancer? He lived a great life. We should celebrate that. How he died should not take away from how he lived, or how we remember him.

    The initial act of addiction may be selfishness – I think its more lying to oneself that this time it will be different – but the monster of a disease eventually robs you of choice, until it has you alone and kills you. I truly hope those in recovery who have lost their empathy for the alcoholic/addict who still suffers somehow find that empathy, and find it before they themselves relapse. “Sobriety is a daily reprieve contingent upon the maintenance of our spiritual condition” = empathy for others.

    Reply
  35. epitome February 3, 2014 at 11:00 am

    I empathize with people who are addicted to drugs, sex, tobacco, alcohol and other vices. I pray for their recovery and do not judge them for I do not know them but sorry…

    addiction is the epitome of selfishness.

    You can blame circumstances, parents, his upbringing or even choice of friends but sadly if a person continues to exercise their freewill to do what they want there is always that chance they will die and/or selfishly hurt those around them. Addicts choose not to face reality or turn the other way and think about others. They sadly are short circuited to themselves and though they feel guilty for their addiction they won’t stop for whatever reason. Often rejecting help or recognition of addiction by a friend…you cant get more selfish than that. Where is God when they need help? God loves addicts yet he will not get in their way of their choices. His mercy is far more reaching than their selfish addiction but the addict must choose to get help…ask God for help and consciously turn away from their freewill to do as they please. Even if you don’t believe in God you still have decided to fall into an addiction.

    Reply
  36. BR-NY February 3, 2014 at 11:01 am

    I agree only with the need for more
    empathy portion but disagree with most of rest of your statement.Living is better appreciatedin all of our DOING. Second most urgent need is BALANCING our emotions with LESS DISTORTED THINKING ( probably Mr. Hoffmans weakest skill yesterday—balance lost!) Im adding my prayers for those children he left behin.

    Reply
  37. frank February 3, 2014 at 11:06 am

    I wont comment on the controversy of selfish or not,i will say addiction is a terrible disease that very few recover from,its devestation on the lives of others is worse than most disease,s simply
    because of the shame associated with it,ask any addict if phil was enjoying himself and you will find he probably was at best feeling totally helpless,add to that the fact that phil had found recovery and used again this was a man who was totally alone in his own personal
    hell,having been there I understand,the only good thing that can come of this is if anyone you know,or you have an addiction please GET HELP,because the result of your or their
    disease is ALWAYS the same insanity,incarceration,depravity or death,god speed phil

    Reply
  38. John Carter February 3, 2014 at 11:18 am

    Seems to me it is possible for addiction to be both a disease and a matter of selfishness. People tend to be selfish. Some simply land on steeper slopes in life, say with bipolar disorder. Life isn’t fair. The various strong positions taken here may speak more to a current stage of recovery or failure to engage in recovery or even making one’s recovery the filter for understanding everything than to some sort of self-evident fact. People have learned different lessons and emphasize their own experience over that of others. They have learned different ways to reason about the problems in question. Both those insisting on the disease model and those not may be missing out on a compassionate response (seldom encompassed by straightening out other people on how to think about stuff) but certainly come across as selfish. “It’s all about me and my experience and I have no qualms judging anyone else with different experience.” I’m not saying values are all relative but our viewpoints certainly are. Listening is hard and it has to be done more than once.

    Reply
  39. Julia Godeke February 3, 2014 at 11:19 am

    My family lost our son, father, brother and friend to alcoholism 1 1/2 years ago. He was an intelligent, funny, loving human being, but we could not save him from alcohol. He took his life because he felt he had lost the alcoholism battle. This very social man died sick and alone.
    He had no idea that his death would impact so many people.

    Reply
  40. Tom February 3, 2014 at 11:19 am

    Well said!!

    Reply
  41. Clyde day February 3, 2014 at 11:20 am

    I am sorry ,but you saying that addiction is not selfish is just giving the people who read this, and are addicts a get out of addiction free card. First off you can not compare porn or others of those types to ones that WILL KILL YOU. porn addiction will not kill you neither will weed addiction. heroic, alcohol, cigarettes, food WILL. An addiction IS the most selfish thing you can do because you are choosing that high over you’re family, and friends. My mom is addicted to cigarettes, and she is going blind from it. Even tho she is going blind, and she KNOWS! it is taking her sight she is choosing to keep doing it anyway. The pull of that next high is more important to them than anything else. In doing that it lowers you to stealing from your family, friends, or worse. Addiction runs in my family, and I know how much seeking that high is just like heaven, and when it took me to suicide I chose to work hard, and not seek it, just like food. I have a food addiction, and got up to 540lbs, but the day came when I had enough of the negative aspects of it, and turned it around. You can not FORCE someone to get help for their addiction they have to want it, and want a better life. until then They choose to give in to their addiction.

    Reply
  42. Fred February 3, 2014 at 11:23 am

    I wonder how many people who are judging Mr. Hoffman have problems with “legal” drugs such as alcohol or prescription meds or other vice? I really wish people would have more empathy for other human beings. You never know what it is like to live in someone else’s skin or what demons another person is battling. Hopefully if you or someone you love ever experience the horrors of addiction you or they will receive empathy from others.

    Reply
  43. patrick little February 3, 2014 at 11:25 am

    A man takes a drink,
    A drink takes a drink,
    A drink takes a man.

    Disease;yes. Selfish;yes – that’s part of the disease. Morally defective; no!

    This disease, unlike any other progressive, terminal illness, can be arrested; by abstaining from the substance(s) to which we are addicted and growing in recovery. Easier to do in Fellowship than alone. Believe me :-) !

    Reply
  44. Susan February 3, 2014 at 11:27 am

    The time period leading up to my husband’s suicide (shooting up a lot of cocaine was his method) was him at his most selfish. All he cared about was getting rid of the pain. However, at that point in time he felt he had no another choice and needed to end the pain.

    Adults who have lived with addicts and the mental illness that goes along with addiction can wrap their heads around this but what about my daughter and Philip Seymour Hoffman’s kids?

    Reply
  45. Brad Rose February 3, 2014 at 11:34 am

    I’m sorry, i respect what your saying. However, I do not think it is fair for anyone to make a deteomation into really what took place this day. Whether selfish, or unselfish, a life has been lost- a great actors life. That being said, how can you sit here and say that you or anyone else knew what was going through this persons mind. Nobody but him actually knew! Was he selfish? Yeah, he was in the fact that he had a family, kids, etc, and he chose to do drugs which in turn put him at risk of death. Addict or not- he made a choice- and in the end- he died as a result! But, its not for me or you to label or say for
    Sure what actually was in his head or defend his actions that day.

    Reply
  46. Lorraine Devon Wilke February 3, 2014 at 11:48 am

    Beautifully put and, sadly, true in so many case. It is very easy to judge, use words like “selfish” and “destructive,” or – as one commenter said after I reposted this article – addicts “don’t need empathy, they need a kick in the butt.” All of that presumes a great deal about others that leaves out their individual stories. Many recovered addicts (I know many) seem to very arrogantly take the stance that ALL addiction is the same and all addicts are cut from the same cloth, so “If I can do it, dammit, they can do it and if they can’t, well… they’re selfish.”

    Ugh.

    Of course there is selfishness in addiction! As there is in the many other sabotaging behaviors, even of those who are NOT addicts. How many times have we seen people get behind the wheel after “just a few drinks” and drive off without a thought of their impaired status? How many times have we watched a non-addict take a “why not?” attitude about “trying” a drug only to hear of some tragedy that ensued afterwards? Selfishness is part of the human condition when it comes to many things – certainly substances – but to dismiss the addict with derision and judgment is both lacking in compassion and wisdom. If the addicts commenting here were able to push aside their own demons, their own “selfishness,” to get clean and stay clean, bravo to them. Many others have a harder struggle for a wide spectrum of reasons… not because they’re not caring, compassionate people who love their children, family and friends.

    I watched a friend die from drugs after years of trying to solve both the problems that led to their use and their use. She was in 12-step programs, got on and off the “meds” that killed her, struggled, tried, anguished, but ultimately succumbed. Selfish? She was one of the most loving, unselfish people in the world and I don’t think there was any part of her that wasn’t aware of those who loved her and would suffer at her death. Still, she was tortured by an addiction that rose up and overwhelmed her.

    To have “zero empathy,” as one commenter said, sounds, oddly… selfish.

    Reply
  47. Daryl February 3, 2014 at 11:54 am

    In my addiction, I was selfish, self-serving, and an absolute pig! I am not responsible for my disease, but I am responsible for my actions. Through recovery I now have a choice for my actions. Should I choose to pick up a drink or a drug, MAKE ABSOLUTELY NO MISTAKE, that choice is then removed.

    Reply
  48. Shannan February 3, 2014 at 12:11 pm

    Although he may not have been selfish in those last moments, the behavior that leads to addiction is selfish. Empathy is all well and good in how you intend it but the best thing for an addict is tough love to help change the behavior and help overcome their selfish behavior that encourages addiction.

    Reply
    • patrick little February 3, 2014 at 1:27 pm

      Yes!

      Reply
  49. Steve S February 3, 2014 at 12:11 pm

    I think the debate of selfish or not selfish goes back to whether you believe Sobriety is a gift or a choice. The big book of AA says it’s a gift, a daily reprieve, contingent on the maintenance of a spiritual condition, and that willpower is an absolute liability for an alcoholic/addict. The true addict/alcoholic loses choice, and the first step says “We admitted we were powerless…”.

    Those who think they got sober solely by making a choice will view Hoffman as being selfish, and I question whether they crossed the line into addiction or just had a little “experimental” phase in their lives. Those who suffered and had to admit powerlessness – Step 1 – right there saying the addict has lost choice except to admit absolute defeat and accept the help of strangers, will know Sobriety as a gift and will have empathy for Hoffman.

    Reply
  50. Ethen Muro February 3, 2014 at 12:22 pm

    This “writer” just tried to explain addiction in 4 paragraphs…with the longest paragraph featuring himself as a victim with the flawed logic of “I lived this therefore I know better.” Some people need to find hobbies better suited to their limited intellect. I don’t even think the Enquirer would print this dribble. When I read silly articles like this which add to the confusion I realize there is a new type of ambulance chasing that has developed on the internet.

    Reply
  51. Tryst February 3, 2014 at 12:31 pm

    I understand exactly what you are saying and agree with you. I also completely respect the bravery with which you said it. I rarely express this idea to people I don’t know since the popular belief that addiction and suicide are selfish is so well entrenched. It really takes a special kind of perspective to realize that the addict you are watching killing himself isn’t doing it for or in spite of you. I also think, though, that different people have different experiences. The co-occurring disorder issue changes the landscape. If my family member could have stopped, he would have, but the bipolar was just too much for him. I understand that, and I’d say I forgive him, but again it’s not about me. What’s to forgive? Did he choose to have bipolar? No. How can I ask him to live in such pain? Pain that I can’t even imagine? Just so I supposedly feel better? Wow. Talk about selfish. And I’m not sure what the benefit of telling someone who is at their lowest point that they are selfish. How is that helpful? Aaaaand, this is why I don’t talk about this with anyone. :-)

    Reply
  52. Jeff February 3, 2014 at 12:37 pm

    Before any more self-righteous people come out with the “I made it through addiction and all it takes is this…” bullcrap, please try to realize that your experience is not hard evidence that everyone else’s experience is or should be the same. Levels of addiction vary, as do effective treatment methods. It depends on the person. So get over yourselves.

    Second, it’s important to realize how arrogant it is to say whether or not someone has a “choice” in any given situation. Addicts “choose” to avoid reality and inject heroin/drink/smoke. Are you serious? How can you make such a claim? Any evidence to back it up, or is it just a wild theory that feels good to you? Whether or not free will even exists is a philosophical issue that is still highly controversial. So if you want to go around telling people which actions are choices and which aren’t, I first want to see your published research article putting that debate to rest before I give two craps about your hypothesis.

    And Simona… Recovery is about realizing that the world doesn’t revolve around you? Seriously? Please stop counseling people. I hope you don’t tell them that complete bullshit. I work in recovery, and my experience (and the research I’ve read) strongly suggests that recovery is a multi-pronged approach that involves lifestyle changes, education, support, self-care, spirituality (for many), etc. It is not just about having a realization that the world doesn’t revolve around you. That statement is harmfully simplistic and glib.

    Reply
    • Mkang February 3, 2014 at 1:36 pm

      Thank you Jeff. I agree with you ALL THE WAY.. Kudos to you – I think I love you.

      Reply
  53. Adam Fine February 3, 2014 at 12:43 pm

    Incredibly well written, sensitive, touching, raw and a hugely drawing upon an hugely resounding issue within the current generation. My brother died from Heroin almost 10 years ago now, his last three years were wrought with a battle against his addiction alongside having diabetes and Aspergers Syndrome. In the end when he had had a period of being clean, and all of us believing we had finally approached the light at the end of a very complicated tunnel, he relapsed and died alone in his bedroom without any of his family around him. Sometimes the weight of ones own soul can be too much to bear.
    My brother wasn’t selfish, Infact he was probably one of the most honest, caring individuals I knew. His ability to show unconditional love, with a child like innocence, yet incredibly wise and empathetic touch made him such an intriguing and darn right honest character to be around, almost too Honest and trusting at times. Something that made him an easy target for those hoping to snag someone in uncontrollable abyss of physical and mental anguish brought on by addictive behaviour. It’s so easy to forget the core individual and see the addiction, the illness, the ‘problem’ or whatever society wishes to classify addiction as, but it was one day where I had to put away all my own silly feelings of prejudice and judgement, and realise that I just needed to give him a massive hug, to remind him that we were still there and would be through thick and thin, and that love, family, friendship, trust, understanding and above all empathy towards somebody else’s struggle are things that can never corrupted by society’s reactions towards Heroin Addicrion . The emotions that my brother showed on that day spoke for themselves, they were more true and honest than any chemical high could have ever provided, and that speaks for itself.
    We need to start taking responsibility towards though suffering, and fighting addictions, mental health problems, learning difficulties, poverty, sickness. Anything that means they make lack the coping mechanisms that most of us take for granted, and as we can see with poor Philip, this can happen to anyone, anywhere at any time.

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  54. Kelli February 3, 2014 at 12:47 pm

    As the child of a drug addict, I find addiction extremely selfish. My mother ultimately surcumed to her addiction at the age is 53. She lost everything and had 37 cents to her name when she died. I was given custody of my 12 yr old brother when I was 22. Neither of us has ever had a mother. I can’t think of anything more selfish than that.

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  55. Wanda February 3, 2014 at 12:50 pm

    For the addict who had no empathy for this man because he overdosed, he sounds pompous to me, but I suppose those who “forget” where they came from are very likely to go back. Yes, addiction is a selfish dis-ease (and it is a disease!!!) Our bodies do not process drugs or alcohol like other people’s bodies. And we cannot control the need/desire/craving for the drug, once we cross over that line there is no turning back. But most importantly, for me, the gift of Grace given me, through God & the 12 step program, I would’ve just been another statistic. The 12 step programs deal with “our Spiritual Bankruptcy” and if I didn’t acknowledge & accept the nature of my disease, I, too, surely would’ve died!

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  56. Dieter February 3, 2014 at 12:56 pm

    I must disagree. As a former coke addict, I can safely say I was a selfish and arrogant person. I didn’t care about the family that I was hurting and I didn’t care about the friends that I was alienating. Everything was about me and doing lines. I take full responsibility for what I did. I suffered from a depression that I probably could have dealt with through fitness or making music or something active like that. But compared to what others have to deal with in the world, my middle class American depression seemed pretty ridiculous after a while. I really liked Philip Seymour Hoffman as an actor, and I couldn’t help but notice in Love Liza how ultra-convincing his portrayal of a depressed addict was. He really had enormous talent. But like me, he wasn’t thinking of his family and his friends and when he acquired those syringes. Addiction is selfish, unless you’re “addicted” to charity.

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  57. Bob February 3, 2014 at 12:57 pm

    At what does “empathy” become “enabling”?

    When THAT takes place, “empathy” is meaningless.

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  58. Rick February 3, 2014 at 1:11 pm

    I must add to the others who disagree. I was fortunate to take my last drink/drug in March, 1989. Later, I returned to school to get a graduate degree and spent the rest of my working career working with addicts and people with emotional problems. I began to drift away from working with addicts and spent more time with folks who had emotional problems simply because addicts’ stories seemed to all be the same; only the faces and names were changed. After 20 years in the field I began to recognize that the one trait that addicts share is their unwillingness to accept human emotions for what they are — whether happiness, or sadness, or hurt, or loneliness. Literally every addict I worked with could not handle his/her feelings without a drink or a drug. That is the real source of the shame: “why can’t I handle this like other people?” And the answer is always, “you CAN handle this like other people. You have to put down the drink/dope and allow yourself to experience the feelings.” Sigh…always hard to see a great talent wasted.

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  59. Mkang February 3, 2014 at 1:12 pm

    I just lost my daughter at age 35 in July 2013. She was an addict for many years – 20+. Although she did not die directly from an overdose, the drugs took her life as surely as the sun comes up in the morning.
    This article speaks of things I knew all along, but my friends and family never understood.
    There comes a time when it is no longer a “choice” but takes over the person’s life. I agree 300% with the sentiments in this article and I thank you for it.

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  60. john west February 3, 2014 at 1:22 pm

    it definitely is still selfish, i don’t think you understand the meaning of the word, especially if you’re aware of your problems…so frankly you sound like a dumb fuck.

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  61. Cathy February 3, 2014 at 1:22 pm

    Never judge until you have walked in the shoes of addiction. It’s a very dark and lonely place.

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  62. john west February 3, 2014 at 1:22 pm

    you obviously don’t understand what the word selfish means…you dumb fuck.

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  63. Jared Mazzaschi February 3, 2014 at 1:23 pm

    This is a well written piece and I couldn’t agree more with the concluding sentiment; that the world could use more empathy, regardless of circumstance. Addiction is a confounding malady that asks too much from those who love its victims. Acting against your will – what addiction compels you to do – is a miserable and lonely place to be. See my piece on addiction and suicide on whydontyoulikeme – dot – com R.I.P. Phillip Seymour Hoffman

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  64. Annie February 3, 2014 at 1:27 pm

    Addicts don’t need your empathy. It is not about being selfish or selfless. An addiction is a compulsion, and therefore there is no pause between thought and action. No active addict is capable of pausing to say, “hey, I’m a selfish prick, but I’m going for it!” No. They are addicted, and therefore acting compulsively. They do not deserve or need empathy or sympathy. What addicts NEED is desperation. They need to not be enabled or coddled by those around them. They need to hit rock bottom and surrender to another way. Or, they can die. Death by addiction is preventable. It works if you work it. It worked for Mr. Hoffman for 23 years.

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  65. Mkang February 3, 2014 at 1:34 pm

    I agree with Jeff that posted:

    Jeff
    February 3, 2014 at 12:37 pm
    “Before any more self-righteous people come out with the “I made it through addiction and all it takes is this…” bullcrap, please try to realize that your experience is not hard evidence that everyone else’s experience is or should be the same. Levels of addiction vary, as do effective treatment methods. It depends on the person. So get over yourselves.”

    My daughter was in recovery and she was taught in HER group that it WAS all about HER. I had no idea that was the teaching now, but that is what she was being taught about overcoming addiction. She was told to BE selfish… so end of that discussion in my opinion. I just wish she were still here so I could let her be selfish..

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  66. Al February 3, 2014 at 1:41 pm

    Let’s not forget the incredibly stupid, vain and selfish choice he made that led to this terrible addiction. At some point one must take responsibility and accountability for ones actions that led to this unfortunate situation. Our sympathies should go to his children and family.. THEY are the victims of this “tragedy”

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  67. Charles February 3, 2014 at 1:41 pm

    Phillip Hoffman didn’t have demons like most people like to assert about his genius and overdose. He was an addict and addiction is a real disease with relapses and remissions. He was in recovery and was in very solid footing but he fell victim to the idea that he may not be as bad as he was all these years later. Once that thought starts, the mental obsession aspect of the disease begins to take hold. If not properly ‘treated’ by sharing with another addict or alcoholic, by not ‘telling in ones self’ the disease can gain momentum and can eventually manifest in the actual use of the substance that the addict knows can potentially kill them. But the mental obsession is real and powerful and very very cunning. Once the substance is used the body develops a craving. It doesn’t reject the substance like a non addict. It actually craves more. Once this phenomenon is underway it is nearly impossible to break without help…. I friend of mind who is clean and sober for 27 years saw Philip a few Months ago and said he did not look good and that she had a bad feeling. I’m sober over 22 years and having been in meetings with this man, having shaken his hand and spoke to him, having seen others who succumb to the very power nature of this disease, I know from first hand experience that no prolonged period or abstinence/recovery ‘cures’ the addict or alcoholic. If fact, whether we use or drink or not the condition tends to progress so once the substance is reintroduced even many many years later, the disease, obsession and compulsion is stronger than one could’ve imagined. We in recovery know that there are three options: jail, institutions or death. There are only two options from which we can recover our lives. The other is permanent. The disease is the selfish one, the addict is its victim.

    Selfishness, self-centeredness! That, we think, is the root of our troubles. Driven by a hundred forms of fear, self-delusion, self-seeking, and self-pity, we step on the toes of our fellows and they retaliate. Sometimes they hurt us, seemingly without provocation, but we invariably find that at some time in the past we have made decisions based on self, which later placed us in a position to be hurt. So our troubles, we think, are basically of our own making”. ~Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th Edition, How It Works, pg. 62

    Reply
    • Jeff February 3, 2014 at 1:52 pm

      God grant me the serenity
      To accept the things I cannot change;
      Courage to change the things I can;
      And wisdom to know the difference.

      Living one day at a time;
      Enjoying one moment at a time;
      Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
      Taking, as He did, this sinful world
      As it is, not as I would have it;
      Trusting that He will make all things right
      If I surrender to His Will;
      So that I may be reasonably happy in this life
      And supremely happy with Him
      Forever and ever in the next.
      Amen.

      Reply
  68. Adam February 3, 2014 at 1:45 pm

    ” It’s time we tried to understand struggles we don’t endure ourselves. It’s called empathy, and we could all use a lot more of it.”

    Actually, I think what it’s called is sympathy. I can’t empathize with a drug addict because I’ve never been one. But, I can feel sympathy for them…

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  69. Ang February 3, 2014 at 1:51 pm

    Sorry… I’m not even going to read any of the other comments. Just going to say it is completely selfish. I’ve been there. I spent way too many nights drinking and not remembering most of the night. But it was COMPLETELY selfish of me to keep drinking more and more. It’s a choice.
    I’m not trying to diminish the pain. I know it all too well. At the end of the day we have to choose what we do and be accountable for our actions.

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  70. Cindy February 3, 2014 at 1:56 pm

    I want to take a moment to praise those here…that have the strength to say: Hey, I was an addict and I know it was selfish. I think that takes a real person and it takes even more of a person to beat an addiction. You are heros.
    I agree that we cannot say addicts are bad people…no that’s not the case. They are battling something. And once you are truly addicted your body may need the substance..I get that also…But when you know you are leaving children without a parent, or making wifes widows or leaving a mother without their child…that’s when you go and get help. You go and get help no matter how hard it is. You do that because you love the people in your life. And I think you are acting selfish if you don’t think there is a need for this. If you care less about the people in your life then how hard it is going to be to go through getting clean. I myself have battled depression, which at times can leave you hopeless, but there are times when you can think clearly.

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  71. mamikaze February 3, 2014 at 1:58 pm

    Thank you for this. The comments disagreeing above are exactly why I dislike 12 step programs. No person should feel guilted into self-preservation. Self-medicating is dangerous and the user is well aware. When the burdens and/or demons in your life weigh on you, your decision making is rapidly diminished. I have lost many to suicide and overdose. I don’t begrudge a single one of them. It is also why I don’t hang out with self-righteous group members. Everyday is a battle and your battle is your own.

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  72. Ped February 3, 2014 at 2:23 pm

    Yes, addiction is chemical, and to some degree out of a person’s control. Here’s the thing, though: don’t start taking drugs in the first place. Everyone knows that they are addictive, harmful to one’s health, and (except for alcohol and pot in some places) illegal. Starting drugs is just stupid; why should we have any sympathy for those who overdose?

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  73. Philip February 3, 2014 at 2:29 pm

    Any person with a substance abuse problem and is a parent should consider the life long burden of shame and abandonment one inflicts upon one’s innocent children and for what reason? The addict’s need for instant gratification? That need overrides the child’s mental health for the remainder of the child’s life? If that isn’t the definition of selfish then please explain why not. The moment just prior to the needle puncturing the skin, does the thought of children, loved ones, or friends enter the mind of the selfish addict? I submit the answer is no.

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  74. Belle February 3, 2014 at 2:33 pm

    Yes! Beautifully said. You voiced what I feel and think. Thank you, thank you so much for this article!! Please keep sharing and helping others.

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  75. Jim February 3, 2014 at 2:34 pm

    My heart goes out to Hoffman’s family and friends. I have a son who is an addict and I wouldn’t wish this disease and it’s residual on my worst enemy. God Bless anybody out there who is struggling with this disease.

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  76. gwynthfair February 3, 2014 at 2:38 pm

    Addiction isn’t a disease? You don’t get to just have an opinion about science. Addiction has been classified as a disease in the DSM for over 30 years. It boggles my mind that an even an addict or an addiction specialist would think that shame and guilt are what it takes to help an addict recover. Recovery begins when you learn to love yourself and believe you deserve better. It makes me sick to see all these comments.

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  77. Shawn February 3, 2014 at 2:41 pm

    I don’t buy it! there is a very simple solution to these problems! people know Drugs are bad for you, so it’s sooooo simple don’t do drugs and you wont become addicted to them! where you end up in life is all in the choices you make!

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  78. Helen Nelsen February 3, 2014 at 2:43 pm

    Empathy requires that you don’t impose your own experiences nor your own unique mental, emotional, physical and spiritual beingness’ onto someone else.
    You just let yourself feel love, good thoughts, compassion…whatever form of kindness and respect you can connect to…for the person.
    Jim Carrey’s post on PSH says it…PSH’s unbelievable acting requires an unbelievable sensitivity, and, as a lot of these comments reveal, many have lost touch with their own sensitivity and their ability to honor the sensitivity in others. Insensitive words, thoughts and feelings are the “noise” that Jim Carrey talks about. I cannot begin to guess at what was going on inside PSH, but I would guess that if he weren’t an addict, or if her were in recovery, or if he were having ANY of the experiences mentioned in this thread that some think gives them authority to “know” the case with PSH, AND if he heard of a fellow human, who was a father, who “had everything”, who was in love, AND who was unable to overcome an addiction that had just killed him, that he would feel only love and compassion for this man. This is what empathy is. PLEASE try it…and start with loving yourself. I can’t imagine a better first step toward preventing more addiction in the future than the decision to give our own selves gentle kindness, appreciation and respect.
    We’re ALL addicted to something…it’s just a matter of degrees. We all do our best to take care of ourselves in whatever way makes us best able to express the unique beauty of who we are here to be and do our best to be there for those we love..simultaneously…when our lives are in balance, both sides benefit from the other. We all…constantly…make “bad” choices in our efforts to do that. Is the intention to take care of oneself “selfish”? As tragic as a choice as drugs are, can we not label the decision as “bad” and not the person? And as some have commented, this word “selfish” has so many degrees and connotations that it’s always surprising to me when it is thrown about as a judgment with the same meaning a pre-schooler labels a friend who won’t give him his toy. And, yes, a family member of mine almost died from an addiction and is in recovery now… I am a loved one who suffered during his addiction, but I always focused on who I knew him to be, and not on the actions he chose to “cope” at each step of his way to finding some peace and love for himself in his life. Please!..resist rash judgment and urge original thought/understanding of the infinite number of truths within every moment…and each precious life.

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  79. Kaitlyn February 3, 2014 at 3:14 pm

    I couldn’t disagree more with you. I have empathy, plenty of it but for people who deserve it. Like children diagnosed with cancer, or innocent lives lost to terror; not individuals who chose to play Russian Roulette. I’ve had loved ones who have struggled with addiction and ones who have lost their lives to it. They should seek help and if they are fortunate to have loved ones around them, reach out to those for help. His life is a ridiculous waste of talent and I feel terrible for his family and especially his young children. This liberal world we live in of feeling badly for everyone is pathetic and makes me sick. I can’t image a more SELFISH act then substance abuse.Take ownership of your actions and the consequences they bring.

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  80. Brittany February 3, 2014 at 3:16 pm

    This is brilliantly written and a real eye-opener for some, I’m sure. Thank you for sharing.

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  81. Mary February 3, 2014 at 3:26 pm

    Great post…as a daughter of an addict, I can tell you that addiction does not discriminate… My mom, like Philip, “had it all” by world standards.. But addiction is a chronic disease of the brain, & often relapses (PSH was allegedly sober for 23 years prior to his treatment stay last year) can escalate the disease very rapidly. My mom never stayed sober for long, and is now in a nursing home with alcohol dementia, kidney failure, crippled from falls from broken hips etc. Some fight, but it requires constant maintenance, physically, mentally and spiritually wise. I am convinced some people have mental illness to a degree that prevents them from seeking lasting help. The actions seem selfish and feel very selfish to his or her family and friends, but it is so much more complicated than that. I pray for all who battle every day

    Reply
    • Mkang February 3, 2014 at 3:35 pm

      Sweet, Mary – “You get it”… thank you for what you said. My own daughter had a mental illness that prevented her from getting and keeping sober “long term”. Those two maladies together are almost unconquerable…

      Reply
  82. Lucille February 3, 2014 at 3:33 pm

    The way I see it from the inside…
    I didn’t choose to become addicted.
    The core of this disease is self centeredness.
    Yes, I have a disease that has only one remedy…The 12 steps of NA deal with the disease of addiction not one particular substance.
    The moment I stopped using over 16 years ago I started my recovery. I can’t recover if I don’t stop using. No addict is immune. No addict can use successfully.
    The only outcome for a using addict is
    “Jails, Institutions or Death”.
    At the end of the road…when I didn’t want to die anymore, when I didn’t want to live like that anymore…I chose recovery.
    When I was using I didn’t have a choice, my disease chose.
    I learnt “The only way to keep from returning to active addiction is not to take the first drug.” because “One is too many and a thousand is never enough.”
    It wasn’t easy however it’s a simple program for very complicated people.
    It works it you work it because you’re worth it and sucks if you don’t.
    Thank you for letting me share.

    Reply
  83. Sean Maguire February 3, 2014 at 3:34 pm

    To all of you drug and alcohol addicts and others that are saying “It’s selfish”, and quoting your own experience, you fail to recognize that your experience is not the same as others. You walked in your shoes – not his. You do not know what he experienced or what darkness and demons he may have been facing. Let’s assume for example that he had been molested for years by a family member as a child. Let’s assume he had a darkness in his life that we do not know and that they only way he found some relief in it was through a complete escape through drugs. Is that really a person just choosing to be selfish? Is there no room for empathy there?

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  84. Mary February 3, 2014 at 3:36 pm

    Here is a post I wrote similar to the points you have made here:
    http://maryjsnustad.wordpress.com/?s=Message&submit=Search

    Reply
  85. jeremy February 3, 2014 at 3:40 pm

    all the people posting on here “I was an addicted to this and that, and I was so selfish, etc” are either liars, or went to church instead of AA or NA, or were ordered by the court to do it. you’ve obviously never hit an absolute low in your life. you know… the point where you “wake up” and all of a sudden realize how effed up your life has become. using is no longer fun – it just gets you through the day. and then you try to quit, ’cause you think you still can… and then comes the realization that you can’t. when you throw away all your crap, anything you have in your house that’s reminds you of your drug use, and you tell yourself that this is it, you’re done, new life. and then run out a couple hours later to score some more. and it’s like a totally different person made those decisions. a person who somehow temporarily forgot all about your family, your resolve to have a better life, and somehow rationalized the drug use for that day (“oh ill just use today because I’m really stressed out about this and that, and I’ll start tomorrow again” all of it just so you don’t feel bad about using). and the moment you’re high again, you go “what the hell? why did I do this? i hate this.”

    and the next day, its the same thing. it’s like living with an a-hole roommate who makes decisions for you and doesn’t tell you about it. it’s like drowning. and then you sit alone in your house, and you hear everyone else having a good time, and parties and all, and you want to go. you want to have that life. you want to be clean and make friends and enjoy other people’s company without any drugs, and to make new friendships and to feel loved – but you’ve forgotten how to do that. and you know that the moment you make a new friend, you’ll probably screw it all up because you’re not dependable. you’ll choose to do drugs instead. the drugs or alcohol became your friends.

    so for those people claiming they were addicts. you either never experienced rock bottom, or you didn’t recover. an addict who actually recovers doesn’t hate themselves. i’m not talking about abstaining from drugs, but of actual recovery from being an addict. If you havent done drugs for a few years now, but still think your addiction was your fault, or think you were such an incredible a-hole for having been an addict, then you need to get yourself back into meetings – because if you think you were so selfish, and obviously hate yourself for it, then you’re going to backslide into your addiction eventually. you never learned how to deal with life or to understand you role in your own addiction.

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  86. Lisa February 3, 2014 at 3:48 pm

    Until this past year, at the age of 53, I could not emotionally understand why my mother chose to drink herself to death. She drank from the time I was born, and for the next 34 years. Having just experienced a severe depressive episode myself, I now understand. When you are trapped in a dark and pain filled place there are three choices, suicide, numbing yourself (booze, heroine, Oxy, take your pick) which eventually leads to death , or working through it. We are ALL different. We have ALL had different experiences. We ALL have individual chemistry and history. No one of us is in a position to place judgement on this man. Addiction and Depression walk hand in hand and unless you have been there you cannot understand the depth of pain. I am saddened for his pain, and the struggles his loved ones will face because of his death. He was a fine actor who brought many great moments to many people. We cannot know if he was a selfish man, we didn’t know him. To call his death a selfish act is simply passing judgement on someone who was clearly in tremendous pain.

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  87. Jo February 3, 2014 at 3:55 pm

    I’m reminded of this Emerson quote (below) when I consider the unsteady ennui that compels celebrities to abuse drugs. Perhaps there’s an inescapable malady that’s built-into the cult of personality and artifice that such industry aggravates, and that the mind rebels against at it’s deepest, most authentic root.

    Emerson said, “My life is not an apology, but a life. It is for itself and not for a spectacle. I much prefer that it should be of a lower strain, so it be genuine and equal, than that it should be glittering and unsteady.”

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  88. Harry February 3, 2014 at 3:58 pm

    As I can read there are a lot of opinions on whether the use is selfish or not. Are we being selfish when we take that first hit or drink, probably not selfish but somewhat self indulging yes. Those of you who have been affected by or are addicts and alcoholics should know that at some point in your use that the ” choice” was removed from your vocabulary and was replaced by when. Or if you have watched a friend or loved one destroy their lives along with everyone around them then you know also, because you have probably asked why and if they were being honest their response would have been I really don’t know why, I ask myself all the time but there is never a logical answer. An addict or alcoholic in active use doesn’t think about the consequences to him or herself, but they know what they are likewise they don’t think about what it does to the people who love them the most. If we did there wouldn’t be any addiction or alcoholism anywhere period..Anyone who has gone through the guilt shame and remorse the next day knows what I am talking about. There would be none of that if we were all selfish…I am sure that most who have ever od and died did not set out to accomplish that..If you have or know someone who uses and you are gonna sit their and tell them how selfish they are, they are already know that…trust me on this one…selfish I don’t know….But damn hate the disease not the person!!!!

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  89. SusieQZ February 3, 2014 at 4:11 pm

    This is an interesting thread. Why does everyone feel compelled to be right about the reason for addiction and whether it’s selfish or not?

    I am a recovering alcoholic and I was probably one more binge away from something bad happening (i.e., losing my kids, my job, my life, etc.) I knew it was selfish to drink while my kids helplessly watched. I had endless justification, but couldn’t stop until I was willing to accept help from others which, for me, meant admitting my shortcomings and that I couldn’t accept sobriety alone.

    If you call addiction selfish and within a person’s control, you continue to promote the stigma attached to what I believe very much a disease; a mental disease. The stigma is the reason some do not seek help. On the other hand, there is an element of personal responsibility I had to take. I wasn’t selfishly inflicting hurt on others…and frankly, do not know many addicts who purposefully use alcohol or drugs to hurt others when it gets bad.

    Addiction is personal. A way to unwind. A way to fit in. A way to forget. A way to cope. Any one or combination of these statements can be true for an addict, among countless other reasons.

    We lost a great talent to this horrible disease, and having been in despair, my heart aches for him and the family. And there are so many other nameless people who are suffering today, and the pain for them and others are as deep as Philip’s. How can we help reduce losing more lives to this nightmare? Stop judging is step one.

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  90. bob February 3, 2014 at 4:12 pm

    This article is retarded. It’s called self control ass hole. Don’t stick a needle in your arm…not that hard to comprehend. The second you make the CHOICE to do hard drugs, I lose any and all sympathy for you. You’re a fucking moron. I do recreational drugs from time to time and I’ve never felt the need to do them habitually. Never understood addiction and how someone can become “dependent” on something that is killing them….

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  91. Jeff Ray February 3, 2014 at 4:22 pm

    Drug use is pure selfishness. Some of My family , many friends, an ex fiancé. All destroyed by heroin or died from it. It’s a choice. I have had a horrible childhood. An addictive personality. I choose not to partake in hard drugs. Cancer is a disease not drug addiction. Stop making excuses.

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  92. johanna February 3, 2014 at 4:25 pm

    Bob- you are an ignorant asshole. Shame on you. You obviously have not a shread of intelligence. Hope you die

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  93. Brendan February 3, 2014 at 4:25 pm

    Thank you so much for writing this. I lived it but there is no way I could out these words together.

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  94. johanna February 3, 2014 at 4:27 pm

    of choking on your own bullshit
    Ignorant moron

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  95. johanna February 3, 2014 at 4:29 pm

    Better yet,hope someone you love is born with the pre-disposition for addiction- karma’s a bitch & you’re a bastard

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  96. Kate February 3, 2014 at 4:30 pm

    I will add to the others here who respectfully disagree. Having been raised by a severely alcoholic parent, and having watched COUNTless family members destroy their lives, and hurt their loved ones because of their addictions, I know a few things to be 100% true:

    1) yes I totally agree that addiction is a DISEASE, and that it can and does spiral out of the person’s control. So yes there are times when I believe they are not in control of their decisions and are not coherent or “clear” enough, to be able to stop themselves. HOWEVER (and this is a BIG However) :

    2) There always, ALWAYS comes a time , or most often several times, when an addict has the opportunity to look at their life, face their problem, and CHOOSE to get help, to make the right decision. Family members and friends can only stand by and watch so much…..I myself have experienced this, and I have seen people in my life who have stood by and EMPATHIZED their flippin HEARTS out, over and OVER, towards the addicted person, only to have their hearts broken and be disappointed, again and again, and AGAIN when the addicted person flat out refuses help and worse, then lashes out to the very people who are trying to help them, and who love them.

    You can only carry empathy so far, and then it becomes ENABLING. At some point, it is the ADDICTED PERSON’s responsibility to MAKE A CHOICE, whether to be brave enough to accept that they have a problem and face the fact that they need HELP. Most addicts have extremely low self-worth in the first place, so owning up to their past transgressions and to their addiction is VERY hard to do…but when they don’t do it, when they don’t have the courage to face their problem and their demons and accept help, then I do believe that is a choice they are making, and it is 100% a selfish choice. As a loved one – how long do you have to continue to be beaten and battered, emotionally, and how long are you expected to just sit by and allow the addicted person in your life to keep using, keep making excuses for not getting sober, and continue their path towards destruction??? It is inherently unfair as an addict, to continue to hurt the people who love you, and keep denying your addiction, and keep refusing help. So yes it IS selfish, at that point.

    I come from a family who have a predisposition to both addiction, and also depression. I make a CHOICE, every single day, to fight those tendencies that I have. It can be very tough at times, to not drown my sorrows in alcohol, to not allow myself to fall victim to crippling depression. But because I know that I tend towards these things, I ACTIVELY take steps to prevent them – I go to therapy, I watch my intake of addictive substances, etcetc. I have a child and a family who depend on me, and I make these choices and fight the daily fight for THEM!

    To have empathy for a suffering Addict is one thing, but you hurt them FAR worse than helping them, by playing into the idea that they are a totally helpless VICTIM, to their disease. Getting sober is 100% about the addict making a CHOICE, to get clean. How are they ever to be strong enough to make that choice if we continuously enable them to play the victim?? To continue empathy for someone who continues to refuse help, just prolongs the affliction, because you are essentially taking the person’s own sense of their own power and strength to face their problem, away from them!

    I don’t wish to offend anyone with an opposing view here, but I speak from a lifetime of experience. I have learned alot from that experience. Making excuses for a loved one who is an addict, or encouraging them to feel like a “Victim” only prolongs and enables their disease. You need to support them, but do it in a way that forces them to recognize their problem and make that CHOICE to get sober THEMSELVES. You cannot make that choice for them, and without that personal choice, they will never stay clean or sober in any permanent sense.

    Reply
  97. Elise February 3, 2014 at 4:35 pm

    Once I would have believed this. When you’ve done some real time (as an adult) with an addicted person,you love but can’t help, selfish is exactly what it looks like. When you cut them off, every time the phone ringings too early or too late your first thought is they’re dead. It may not be their intention to be selfish but it is definitely the experience of their loved ones.

    You cry over their death innumerable times before they actually die. You hold out hope for their sobriety as they steal from you, scream at you, and stand up their own children. I agree it is a disease and even that it’s hereditary but it is also selfish and a choice. What is tragic is the treatment of their families. The addict has all the choices and their loved ones pay the price.

    Reply
  98. Lisa February 3, 2014 at 5:00 pm

    To me, the most important thing to remember is that Hoffman made a choice to put the needle in his arm the first time and inject what he *knew* was a highly addictive and dangerous drug into his bloodstream. I wonder if he did it because he, like countless others, believed that he was superhuman and that he would never end up being a statistic. But here he is, another sad statistic. Glossing over the fact that he made that FIRST choice and encouraging empathy for him in turn makes it seem okay for others to put the needle in their arm, too. There is no denying that he made a very stupid choice that first time. If you’re old enough to put a needle of heroin in your arm, you’re old enough to know what it can do. We need to highlight the tragic results of that first stupid choice as a clear reminder to those who have not yet put the needle in their arm.
    And oh my goodness STOP putting addiction anywhere near the category of cancer. What a horrible and completely incorrect connection.

    Reply
  99. Pingback: “The way we talk about a celebrity who ODs says a lot about the way we think about people who are struggling around us. It’s time we tried to understand struggles we don’t endure ourselves. It’s called empathy, and we could all use a lot more

  100. Heather February 3, 2014 at 5:13 pm

    Addiction is clearly not simple. Recovery is clearly not simple. We can’t agree on how to live either of them out, where the lines are, and what it all means. Just look at all these rebuttals! Those touting a religious recovery program in comment sections are the ones troubling me today. I am in recovery and it is my very own road. I walk it lightly, carefully and with a whole lot of help. I cannot tell anyone else HOW to do it, I can only live it and beg for God to make it contagious. I can only tell my story and in doing so I call my addiction a disease because that’s the truth for me. My father and his father and his father before him. And my grandma’s dad and his dad and it goes on and on.

    Did you know there are genes that only addicts have? You can look that up.

    This is an eye-opening piece of writing and we cannot say what effect it will have on the reader, addicted and not. We only could if selfishness were set aside, to have a meaningful conversation. That can’t happen because we’re all the same, our worldview like a pin-prick in front of our noses, and we sniff away at our own experience and whatever truths and lies we’ve been fed. We cling to what we think we know because this is terrifying. It feels like solid ground, certainty.

    PSH was like you, and like me, and like every single one of us. You are not better. That should be simple and clear.

    Reply
  101. Mkang February 3, 2014 at 5:26 pm

    Let’s clear one thing up right now, or perhaps open a new can of worms: Mental Illness IS a recognized “Disability” with A.D.A. I do not know if “Addiction” is considered a disability with A.D.A., but read this:
    Does the ADA protect people with severe mental illness?

    The definition of disability in the ADA includes people with mental illness who meet one of these three definitions:

    A physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities of an individual
    A record of such an impairment
    Being regarded as having such an impairment
    A mental impairment is defined by the ADA as “any mental or psychological disorder, such as mental retardation, organic brain syndrome, emotional or mental illness, and specific learning disabilities.”

    Some things to remember:

    Your employer has to make reasonable accommodation only if they know about your mental illness.
    Employers do not have to accommodate disabilities that they don’t know about.
    If an employee with a known disability is having a hard time doing his or her job, an employer may ask whether the employee is in need of a reasonable accommodation.
    Also, if the employer has reason to know that the employee has a disability, they may have an obligation to discuss reasonable accommodation. Mostly, however, it is up to the person with the disability to tell the employer that an accommodation is needed.
    An employer cannot ask questions about your medical or psychiatric history during an interview.
    An employer can ask you objective questions that help the employer decide whether you can perform essential duties of a job. An employer may ask you about your ability to meet the physical standards for jobs involving physical labor, your ability to get along with people, or your ability to finish tasks on time and to come to work every day.
    Examples of reasonable accommodations for people with severe mental illnesses are:

    Providing self-paced workloads and flexible hours
    Modifying job responsibilities
    Allowing leave (paid or unpaid) during periods of hospitalization or incapacity
    Assigning a supportive and understanding supervisor
    Modifying work hours to allow people to attend appointments with their psychiatrist
    Providing easy access to supervision and supports in the workplace
    Providing frequent guidance and feedback about job performance
    _______________________
    I personally think ADDICTION (severe addiction) SHOULD be considered a mental illness and protected under our Civil / Constitutional Rights to be treated respectively and appropriately. In that respect, ADDICTION and MENTAL ILLNESS, which goes hand in hand ARE equal to CANCER or any other serious illness that you do not ask for… and therefore cannot be discriminated against under our country’s laws!

    Reply
  102. Jason February 3, 2014 at 5:52 pm

    ** The selfishness of addiction, stems from the addicted bodies need to keep the drug in their system. Drugs like Heroin and Oxy in the body have a tendency to steer the mind in a direction of preserving this addiction at any cost. These kinds of users are amazingly talented at manipulation, and lying when the feeling of addiction is at risk.

    Their logical mind shuts down, and the inherent predatory self-preservation side kicks in. This is why it’s a dangerous drug, and also why good people on heroin or Oxy can do very bad things. It’s simply, because the drug itself destroys the logical mind. The person is just the host for the growing monster inside. I had a roommate who fell into addiction, and I watched the productive great person i knew, evolve into the monster he has now become. It doesn’t take long.

    Reply
  103. Flo February 3, 2014 at 5:58 pm

    I think everyone should stop wearing their additions as badges of honor and start admitting that you could control the start of it and you didn’t, even though most everyone is aware of the risks. That makes you selfish to the utmost degree. Suicide? Selfish. It’s the same thing. Also, stop using god as an excuse or savior to get you through it all. That’s why people relapse, because god is not real. It’s like saying my imaginary friend will get me through this. You have to do it for yourself and the people you love.

    Reply
    • Tresa February 4, 2014 at 1:59 am

      Flo you sound like an idiot. If you’ve never been thru it you wouldn’t get it.

      Reply
      • stuart February 4, 2014 at 2:13 am

        No, she sounds about right.

        Reply
        • Alex Smith February 4, 2014 at 10:03 pm

          Dumb ass comment, to say there is no god is just absurd. Something cannot come from nothing, example being the universe.

          Reply
  104. Kim February 3, 2014 at 5:59 pm

    thank you for this beautifully written piece. I am a person on the verge of becoming an addict..trying hard not to fall over the edge. bit this article really struck me to the core of what I feel is wrong with how easily we can write off our fellow humans who are struggling just to make it one day at a time. I’m not proud of myself. in fact I hate myself. addiction causes more pain but is hard to break away from. and hard to find a support group for an almost addict who is ready to give up but knows there will be no return front that path. maybe that’s the selfish part is when u start down the road knowing there will be no return. but the pain takes u there anyways. that pain is too much to bear.

    Reply
  105. Todd February 3, 2014 at 6:14 pm

    It is inevitably true that many addicts do NOT possess a desire to quit, and those people are absolutely selfish. Selfish as hell. However, there are a lot of people who want nothing more to quit, but no matter how hard they try, they cannot seem muster the strength. That has NOTHING to do with selfishness, and that is the kind of addict I will be discussing throughout my post.

    Jeff has the mental cycle exact right. I can’t tell you how many times I threw away everything that reminded me of my addiction and vowed to never touch the stuff again, with the strongest resolve I was capable of mustering – and within an hour, a day, a week, I ran right back to it. Then, literally the moment the high hit, so did the realization and subsequent self-deprecation. Why did I do this? I don’t even like it. I don’t want to be doing it. It doesn’t even make me feel good. It makes me feel like garbage. What the hell is wrong with me? I’m weak. I’m weak, I’m weak, I’m weak. I’m weak, I’m powerless, I’m worthless. Okay… just one more hit.

    I hesitate to call it a disease, but there is absolutely no logic behind the mindset of someone who’s craving. No matter how much you KNOW you don’t want it, it’s still there, steadily itching away at your will. You can realize how much you hate it while you’re high – but no matter how terrible the high is and how bad the self-loathing gets, when the drug fades, it’s screaming at you again. It’s a habit – a bad, nasty, horrible habit. How many of us have had habits that we can’t break, even though they’re pointless? Even if it’s something as silly as not getting enough sleep or biting your fingernails or checking your Facebook when it’s inappropriate, the answer is all of us. Every single one of us. It’s unfair to judge another simply because the thing they lack control of has more extreme consequences. It doesn’t change the fact that it’s a firmly embedded habit that seems, while the habit is prevalent, impossible to break.

    The worst part of a habit is that your resolve can be firm 99.99% of the time, and it doesn’t matter; all it takes is one moment of weakness, and all the work you’ve done unravels. This applies to any habit, but a mind-altering one has other caveats that make it infinitely harder to break. When you don’t have your substance of choice, your brain is NOT thinking rationally. Even if you can muster the strength to remind yourself of all of the reasons you don’t want to do it, they’re all quieted by the screaming voice that tells you that you need to indulge. NOW. And no matter what the cost. The voices that remind you why you hate yourself and what the drug does to you become louder than the voice that compels you to do it AFTER you do it, not before.

    Is it selfish? In a way, yes; and in a way, no. It truly is a paradox. It’s an uncontrollable selfishness that one doesn’t want and never wanted. To suggest, as some people have, that it’s as easy as making a decision, is incredibly naive. There are mountains of psychological issues that need to be tackled. It’s wonderful that some of you are blessed with or were taught to have exceptional self control, but not all of us have been given that advantage. Frankly, I envy the hell out of you for it. Even if it’s something like having the discipline to go to a gym on a regular basis or being able to wake up and get to work or school on time, some of us struggle with it. And it’s not because we don’t want to do good. (Some of us, anyway.) It’s not even because we don’t know how to. It’s a complex mixture of habit, mindset, and experience that hold ourselves captive to our ourselves, despite what we know is our best interest. Hell, even when we try our absolute hardest, and we do everything we think we should be doing, we still fail. Over and over. And it’s soul-crushing.

    Ask someone suffering from depression how easy it is for them to change their mindset to see the good in things. Ask someone with lethargy how easy it is for them to leave the house and do the things they need to do. Ask an over-eater how easy it is for them to fix their diet. Those who chock it up to “it’s a choice, just make the right one” don’t understand a thing about psychology and just how deep the roots of behavior go. That’s why addiction exists in the first place.

    Do you honestly think people WANT to gamble away everything they own, or become so obese that they can’t care for themselves, or become so skinny that they have no energy, or any of the other countless addictions that exist? No matter how comforting black and white situations may be, addiction is just not as simple as “want”, and it’s not as easy as making the choices you want to make. It’s partly about getting yourself to a point where those “choices” actually become choices. If it were as easy to make the right choice, don’t you think we would make those choices? Some of us aren’t strong. Some of us aren’t brave. Strength does not equate to desire. If one doesn’t possess in themselves the necessary strength or bravery to fight, then how can one be strong enough to conquer an addiction that they possess the desire but not the will to change? As I said, many people have no desire to quit, and those people truly are selfish – but if the desire to change is there, I fail to see how that is selfish. Weak? Absolutely. But selfish? I just don’t see it.

    Reply
  106. anonymous February 3, 2014 at 6:37 pm

    For those in recovery… Please refer to the text “Alcohlics Anonymous” aka Big Book, where it clearly states “We have lost the power of choice”. I would also direct everyone to the front of the text in the Dr’s opinion where the ism is referred to as a “mental illness” not a moral issue. It is insane to think that a person 23 years sober, clearly understanding the potential for losing quite literally everything in one shot, no pun intended, would willingly put the needle in his arm…. Never mind the average person facing almost immediate poverty and homelessness that stems from drug use – is a willing participant in the act. Addicts are mentally ill.

    Reply
  107. Carl Agoston February 3, 2014 at 6:55 pm

    With complete respect and admiration to Corrigan Vaugh’s perception to what transpires in the mind and reality of an individual who suffers from the condition of addiction. In both my personal and professional opinions about addiction, of which I have attained extensive knowledge of in both area’s, I would very briefly like to interject with again all respect to anyone who has an opinion in this matter – mine is simply another opinion.
    Addiction is not compiled of something we take, or something we do – Addiction is however comprised of who we were, who we are and who we become, and how we perceive ourselves in this crazy amazing self destructive world filled with passion and pain. Addiction lives within, not without – Addiction is a void that I truly believe I was born with, but that is not to say that addiction cannot occur due to one’s inability or incapability to cope with a life event – addiction is a void within us, a hole if you will in the souls of ourselves: a black hole – yearning to find escape from the darkness it provides. Yet, no matter what we ingest, suppress, repress, behave or belittle ourselves with, nothing, ever, ever, fills the hole.
    Our society today misuses the word “addiction” to such a disservice that we have lost touch with its true clarification if you are “dependent,” you are “addicted” – If you’re an “alcoholic” your “different” than all those “other people who are addicts” who use “other drugs” or behaviors in an attempt to find a facade of peace within themselves. Dependencies come from external sources – Addiction lives within the person suffering from it. When we begin to treat the people afflicted from within instead of….now I’m beginning to rant….”Still suffering Addicts” don’t feel “guilty”….we live in shame – whats the difference? guilt is when I feel bad because of something I did – Shame is I am simply “bad,” hopeless, helpless, lost and empty. Phillip Seymour Hoffman did not pass because of the Heroin he used – Phillip Seymour Hoffman, as well as countless others die because they suffer from a condition of the mind, the body, and the soul, of which can be treated and managed, but never cured. Phillip Seymour Hoffman knew this for in excess of two decades, but somewhere along the journey of recovery, lost his way….Rest in peace.

    Reply
    • Todd February 3, 2014 at 7:01 pm

      This is right on many accounts. Addiction comes in many forms, but the root cause is all the same. Alcoholism, heroin addiction, gambling addiction, eating disorders, depression, perfectionism, hoarding – they’re all different manifestations of coping, but at the core, they’re all the same thing: addiction.

      Reply
  108. James K February 3, 2014 at 7:17 pm

    RIght on Todd. I’m currently addicted to heroin and for the last 1 1/2 years I have been trying to quit. To give people an idea on just how hard it is. I *was* a pack a day smoker for 20 years. I was able to quit smoking cold turkey just over 4 years ago.

    Trying to quit heroin is a million times worse than quitting smoking but I’m not trying to quait using heroin of course it’s my CHOICE to keep using heroin, I mean come on I love having mid 6 figure job yet I have zero cash and basically live check to check. I have so much debt due to heath issues because of my usage. My body is busted up from using a needle for the last 8 years.

    Yeah it choose this life style. I take full responsibility for messing around with heroin and I’m not trying to look for a pity party I just want to let folks know that addiction is not a choice of will power or any of that crap. It’s damn hard to break the cycle but the longer you use the harder it is to quit.

    Again I have been trying to quit for the last year and a half. therapy, suboxone trreatment, aa/na meetings, etc. My brain and body are so used to being “high” that I don’t feel like myself if I don’t use. I hope this will explain somewhat but other people have already posted better comments than me.

    At this point in my life I would rather be dead then deal with this addiction day after day after day. However I’m just “a pussy junky” if I go that route so I live my like now as just a “useless junky” as society sees me. Luckily for me I can hide my addiction from other judgmental people so I only have to live with myself and my addiction.

    Reply
  109. Richt February 3, 2014 at 7:19 pm

    The disease is a monster with no rhyme or reason.

    Reply
  110. Pingback: Phillip Seymour Hoffman, RIP

  111. sean February 3, 2014 at 7:47 pm

    I wish that there was a magic cure for this. heroin addiction is one of the most complex problems in the world. it totally rearranges one’s thought patterns, as well as their physiological make-up. for someone who has never known true happiness, and tries heroin and FINALLY experiences a sense of relief, no matter how deceiving, it can be a life changer. The lure of heroin, ones experienced, stays with someone forever, no matter if that person has a week or 30 years clean. They will always remember that feeling, and, unfortunately, many wind up going back to it. To put it simply, it is a totally selfish act that most daily users would trade in a heartbeat if the idea of a torturing detox wasn’t so scary. I feel for PSH and his family.

    Reply
  112. aKaMizK February 3, 2014 at 8:02 pm

    Thank you for writing this! Thank you for defending the defenceless and giving me a great link to share.

    Reply
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  114. nicole February 3, 2014 at 8:04 pm

    Remember the commercial “nobody says when i grow up I wanna be a junkie” even tho we know heroin and other substances are very dangerous and lead to a horrible life as well as death no one thinks hey let me be “selfish” and stick this needle in my arm to catch a high…it starts out slow and quickly grows out of control…they are tortured internally for one reason or another and this is eventually the way they can relieve themselves… To kick themselves mentally off the planet for a little bit…then of course it turns into a physical addiction…addiction is absolutely a disease…you don’t know you have it until its too late similar to yes cancer…it cant be diagnosed early …rhere are no tests to say hey by the way ur kids gonna be an addict…Many kids start by carelessly and naively tasting a beer… smoking a joint…taking a pill from their parents medicine cabinet and then it progresses from there…we need to start understanding this and accepting it as we havean epidic going on with young people and addiction problems…obviously it’s more then just people being selfish

    Reply
  115. Dharma February 3, 2014 at 8:05 pm

    the point is this is a life, and although it is hard as hell to be around, watch, feel, absorb, losses climb, falling it all happens, like cancer or any other disease that one would stick around for.

    would they continue to be alive if one where there and they were at home with others or close friends.. probably not.

    the only selfish thing about this sort of addiction is shame… which usually takes the person off to be alone.

    not many an addict in full blown is nice, smooth, loving. sweet, cherishing and responsible to others around them.
    so its not easy to be in grace..

    without shame, fully loving and being honored or respectful as well as respected.

    the reason they call addiction is it takes control. and loss become the daily and momentary then seconds.. its all. but I like what u wrote..

    Reply
  116. stuart February 3, 2014 at 8:39 pm

    Terribly selfish and stupid. Does Everyone not know that this is the only end to doing that shit (Heroin) once? bc once started you are destined for the same outcome..
    i’m sure there are a couple people who have kicked it and won’t start again in their entire life, a couple, like maybe 2.
    This is like blaming the dead end road that goes off a cliff; and not blaming the idiots who keep going down that road and off the cliff.
    These addicts don’t care who they hurt, their parents, their children, they are the most SELFISH people there are.

    Reply
    • Todd February 3, 2014 at 11:44 pm

      So, so easy to say when you’re never been through it.

      Reply
      • stuart February 3, 2014 at 11:58 pm

        i use drugs and have for a while, i could be an addict.
        not heroin of cou]rse, i’m not that stupid.

        So, no i have not been through heroin addiction, bc i would never stick a needle in my arm.

        but i go to work, i pay my bills, i’ve never stolen from anyone, never hurt anyone bc of it, my point is, you can be an addict, but that doesn’t entitle you to be a thieving, lying, no good, cry baby who wants to blame anyone but themselves for this addiction.
        i guess the heroin fairy showed up one night and stuck that needle in your arm…?

        and to use this “i’m addicted” as their justification and excuse for continuing to use; that’s just self-serving BS.

        Reply
      • stuart February 4, 2014 at 12:23 am

        The people defending this ‘addiction’ are just proving my point.

        Yes, we know its addictive, explaining how it reacts with receptors in the brain doesn’t clarify that or make it ok. yes its not just a psychological addiction. SO WHAT?

        I Love Chocolate, it makes me feel good, it also acts with receptors in my brain, like anything does, or we wouldn’t know it happened.
        But i don’t shoot chocolate into my veins and steal my Mom’s chocolate..

        I would encourage suicide.

        And these “FREE COUNTY PROGRAMS” ARE NOT FREE!!
        They are paid for either by taxpayers who go to work each day, or through charitable contributions. wouldn’t that money be better spent elsewhere, besides fixing your stupid, dumb decisions.?

        I would expect this crying out of a 12 year old. But maybe it is a character trait and not genetic and pre-disposed conditions. I don’t think God or Darwin built us to be addicted to Heroin…?? Yes we are addicted to food and water, bc we need it to be alive.

        This is more of ME, ME, Me, Poor ME, Help Me, I won’t help you, but give me, give me, give me.

        I’ll say it again, then i’m out, bc you whiners make me sick!
        GROW UP, TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR YOUR ACTIONS! STOP BEING A LITTLE CHILD! STOP BLAMING YOUR MOMMY AND DADDY FOR YOUR PROBLEMS, STOP THINKING SOCIETY IS HERE TO FIX YOU, FIX YOURSELF OR BE ‘NATURALLY SELECTED’ OUT. STOP THINKING SOMEONE OWES YOU ANYTHING, STOP THINKING THAT INSURANCE COMPANIES SHOULD PAY FOR YOUR POOR JUDGEMENT OF USING AN ILLEGAL SUBSTANCE. ITS NOT A DISEASE, THAT’S ANOTHER COP OUT FOR THE WEAK. YOU DIDN’T BREAK YOUR LEG, OR CATCH A REAL DISEASE — YOU STUCK A NEEDLE IN YOUR ARM!

        Reply
  117. Karen February 3, 2014 at 8:42 pm

    Thank you so much for writing this. Best to you in all your endeavors.

    Reply
  118. Dari22 February 3, 2014 at 8:55 pm

    So sad, 23 years sober and then bam! Alone and dead. I have 17 years but don’t go to meetings anymore, “too much going on” and my life is pretty fabulous. Well you know what? PSH had way more going on than I do, he was way more fabulous, had more people who loved him, he even had more kids than me. I hope that I’m not the only with so-called “long term sobriety” who gets this wake-up call, that same bullet is after us, too. All we really have is today. It doesn’t matter if non-addicts/alcoholics get it, not at all. I don’t really get them, either. It’s like when I’ve said “If I could drink like normal people, I’d be drunk everyday,” and they just blink. What matters is that we’re either walking towards life or death everyday. I’ll use this horrific reminder to get back to working on my own recovery.

    Corrigan, I’m really sorry your Dad died that way. Thanks for telling your story. I’ll get back to making sure my kids don’t have a sad story, too.

    Reply
  119. Steven February 3, 2014 at 8:58 pm

    I’ve noticed the ones who are disagreeing with this post are all 12 Step members. One of the major reasons I left all of those sick people behind and then got sober for good. The judgement and armchair psychologists that those programs produce are dangerous to the addict. Old programs with zero practical advice on how to get and stay clean. There are medications and programs out there other than AA and NA – I pray that my fellow sufferers find them.

    Reply
  120. Nancy February 3, 2014 at 9:14 pm

    For your consideration-
    AA Daily Reflections January 8 ”Do I Have a Choice?”
    Overheard in the rooms: Some people can be too rich, too beautiful, too famous or too intelligent to ever get this Program (i.e. they don’t have to make the effort; they always get by on their money, looks, etc)
    Seen in the rooms: famous actor asked to sign someone’s Big Book. Indignant. Storms out.
    Is it possible that the man was made special by other members to the point that he couldn’t be real, be taken seriously, get the help he needed? Was he unable to do thorough 4th and 5ths Steps (getting some of his worst secrets out )for fear of finding them on the front page of the tabloids?
    What other underlying conditions or issues, perhaps leading to alcohol/drug use, went unrecognized, undiagnosed, and thus untreated?

    Reply
  121. Dari22 February 3, 2014 at 9:18 pm

    @James K and anyone else who’s feeling helpless, you really can do this. The program works because the people there are staying alive by working to get you clean. It took me so long but did it, and all that stuff they promised happened. Go to the down and dirty meetings, avoid the super social meetings where everyone is overdressed and putting on a show. Sometimes someone with 5 months can help you so much more than someone with 5 years. Don’t count the days, count the hours. What finally worked for me was going to 3 meetings a day. (And eating a shit pile of burritos, the San Francisco version of getting coffee.) Don’t say that it’s too much time because I know how much time you spend scoring and using and nodding. Chase recovery like you chase the drug. If there’s a 10 pm or midnight meeting, be at it. Even if you’re high. I’ve even made the coffee loaded. Thank the speaker and let people give you their numbers, you don’t have to actually call. But you could. Because you never know when the person who gave you their number and said they would take you to a meeting might be looking for a rope to hang themselves (true story) when you call, and you save them by allowing them to stop thinking about themselves and help you. Take all those dumb slogans seriously, especially “stick with the winners and win with the stickers.” Please. No one’s replaceable. Let them save your sorry ass so you can save someone else’s sorry ass someday, maybe mine. I don’t know if you have access to the newfangled detox drugs, but I’ve heard great things, but doing it the old-fashioned way has always been a strong deterrent for me.

    Oh, by the way, does anyone know if there’s an Ignorance Anonymous? It looks like quite a few trolls on here are hitting bottom.

    Reply
  122. stuart February 3, 2014 at 9:34 pm

    A recent rant i wrote in response to being around H-addicts…

    “Ode to Heroin”

    “Oh Heroin, you have helped me out in so many ways….”
    “Helped me to be the complete worthless LOSER that i always wanted to be…”

    “I used to have kids, but with your help, my parents (who already raised me) or the Govt. (My Tax Dollars) are raising them now — ”

    And i don’t have to do Nothing, not pay for their food, their clothes, the roof over their heads, mainly bc my parents have served me with a warrant to stay away from their house, since i only steal stuff from them.

    “So now i get to go out and party every night like I’m still 15!! (I’m in my late 20′s to early 30′s)

    -}Except now i get to suck old nasty men’s hairy ballsacks for $20 or less!!” to pay for my 10 minutes of drooling and head knodding that you give me Big H!

    “I used to have to go to a JOB1!$!@#$; but since i lost that for being geeked out; I’ve decided not to work and just steal from honest folks and suck scabby dicks for my $20!’” for an extra $5 spot, you can stick it in my diseased ass!

    I used to be pretty, but now i have terrible acne, scars from scratching my skin; and look like a Zombie.,
    Oh, my teeth are brown and falling out too!! No more buying toothpaste for me! Winning!
    But that helps with the dick sucking – Double Win!!

    Oh and don’t forget the track marks up and down my arms, looks really cool, like tattoos of dead skin, only its not a tattoo, its real, it might be Hepatitis if i’m lucky!! (deadlier than AIDS). This also helps in me not getting hired anywhere…yeah!

    “How did i get hooked on this one way ticket to a ruined and worthless life?”
    “Well my best friend, (insert slutty stripper name here)-(not saying she’s a stripper, she’s too nasty to work at any of the nastiest strip clubs on 7th street) got me to try it, she said it was really cool, and you just have to take this adulterated substance, that the dealer cuts with anything that might look brown; and then you take dirty un-sterile water out of some bottle thats been in my nasty dirty grand am, or chevy whatever, and you burn it in an old spoon that’s been lying under the seat of my car, with dirt and ketchup on it, and you use some half-ass method of filtering through something sterile like an old cigarette butt you found on the ground at the homeless shelter, that’s full of bacteria and bug feces and the fluids of the other H-Head; that dropped it there a year ago; Then you suck this all up into a syringe that’s been floating around with your diseased friends for months; and you stick it in a vain in your arm! and inject it straight into your bloodstream! “Isn’t that COOOL???”

    AND the really fun part is that this feeling, whatever it is, only lasts for 10 minutes, then i get to do it all over again…

    Now don’t get me wrong, i like drugs just like the next guy;
    BUT THIS ONE IS JUST PLAIN STUPID! AND ANYONE WHO TAKES IT IS STUPID! AND I DON’T BELIEVE IN JAIL; BUT PEOPLE ON H; SHOULD BE PUT AWAY FOR 20 YEARS; SINCE THEY WON’T DO ANYTHING WORTHWILE IN THE NEXT 20 ANYWAY, ALL THEY WILL DO IS LIE, CHEAT, STEAL, LIE SOME MORE, STEAL SOME MORE, AND PASS DISEASES AROUND.

    GROW UP!!!

    Reply
  123. April February 3, 2014 at 9:42 pm

    So this hits a nerve for me. I have grown up with an addict for a parent. Luckily for me only one parent. I would love to say it’s selfish, because that’s how it feels when drugs are chosen over you (the child). But my parent does not think of me or feel guilty when he uses. He told me that. I went through a series of questions with him and he was honest with me. He doesn’t feel guilty until he gets caught. It is extremely sad. I do believe only the most brilliant people in the world are plagued with addiction tho. My father. Brilliant. Before he was burned out he was the smartest, most talented person. The reason these people die alone is because they have betrayed and burned and let down every single person they know. They have no one left. But yes still have their needle.

    Reply
  124. Laura February 3, 2014 at 9:42 pm

    Addiction sucks! I am an addict and alcoholic. I believe that if we want to stay clean we will. I do belive its a case of the willingness to just not pick up

    Reply
  125. QuoterGal February 3, 2014 at 9:45 pm

    “The way we talk about a celebrity who ODs says a lot about the way we think about people who are struggling around us. It’s time we tried to understand struggles we don’t endure ourselves. It’s called empathy, and we could all use a lot more of it.”

    Thank you for writing this – I think the key word in this is “empathy” – that was my takeaway. Instead of deciding what is or isn’t someone’s degree of selfishness in their pain or addiction, I prefer to feel sympathy/empathy when someone dies from addiction – over deciding I don’t have enough sympathy to spare.

    I *get* not enabling addicts – I don’t hand over money to folks trying to score some coke. And I get not being able to be around folks are using – I had to lose alcoholic friends and other addict friends because it just got too hard to stay connected when they kept using — and kept using *me*, and breaking my heart. And when I got clean – in my own small way – it was too hard to stay clean while keeping in touch w/ friends who use.

    But what I don’t get is withholding sympathy and concern for folks who succumb to their addictions – compassion isn’t something finite, and you won’t use up your allotment for folks you deem “worthy” if you spare some for people who fall victim to their “vices”. It’s that kind of thinking that is closely akin to the mentality that decides we should punish addicts instead of treating them… as we primarily do here in the U.S. Find your hearts and *feel* for them, regardless of how you choose to express it. It’s good for your souls.

    Reply
  126. Laura February 3, 2014 at 9:46 pm

    I have been clean for 24 years and have seen and heard alot of stories and excuses. Recovery is available to all of those that want it. I am very sorry for Phillips family and of course his children. When we use we don’t care about anyone or anybody, just getting high. That is selfish. We are selfish in active addiction and some of us can remain that way in recovery. Its a black and white issue for me. If we don’t pick up we will not get high. If we want to use more than being clean we will get high.

    Reply
  127. Shannon Mckeehan February 3, 2014 at 9:52 pm

    It’s scary. Few make it into recovery. Addiction is really hard to understand even as an addict. It’s a phenomenon! It’s cunning baffling and powerful. It’s best to stay out of the way until it takes it course. It always starts off the same way. Just need a little something to take the edge off and then smack their u are with a neddle in your hand. I think someone mentioned earlier he must have known haroin was very addictive. Haha that’s fucking halarious. He was already battling some serious demons before he chose to shoot haroin I can garentee it. If u call that a choice. And I’ll also add the choice to do haroin isn’t someone who is thinking sanely. So you all can go back and forth with this shit all day your gonna sounds just as hopeless as the addicts who die everyday of this shit and the ones who still live in hell!

    Reply
  128. anton yos February 3, 2014 at 10:09 pm

    Yes addiction can be labeled a disease, but a disease like cancer? I’m not sure that’s fair, though I do not question its devastating effects on others or those it afflicts. But by its very nature in forces us into an existential question; Just how much is anyone in control of their own actions? And what ramifications does that have – for personal responsibility, for assumptions of blame and liability, who would have the impetus to change if personal will is explained away as nothing but a ratio between inhibitors and exciters in our heads. Many people like to walk around thinking all of their success and position is the result of their on “ambition or volition.” instead of it being a winning draw in the lottery of birth. So when they are told someone has a problem with a substance that effects their very will to choose, its something they cannot by default accept into their world view.

    Indeed this is the crux of the neoconservative rants of people who follow Ayn Rand, who posits some inhuman uber mensch who goes about psychicly slaying all of the demons of his own will, or does he have any? as he certainly isn’t presented as any kind of real personality in Rand’s novels. It is precisely this lack of any flaws that make her character so uninteresting, bland, one dimensional to a fault as to pronounce that her genre should be labeled science fantasy, or social political propaganda, whose only purpose is promoting her ideals, much as many movies put forward by the communist states she so hated (ironic yes?) or those of the third reich. Shakespeare would never put Rand’s protagonist in one of her novels, because he recognized a deep truth even in the relative bleak light the early days of the renaissance gave. That we human beings are flawed, and sometimes our greatest flaw is our inability to see beyond ourselves, or to honestly look inward and see the errs in logic about ourselves and the world we have made.
    It is precisely this contradiction, that when we acknowledge the fact that we are in a sense, organic chemical machines that it becomes even more important that we have to not give into to the temptation to give up our volition – to just throw up our hands and say oh well, it’s all just a matter of dopamine and and seratonin. What choice do we have?

    The answer is exemplified in Shakespeare’s Hamlet. That despite the information before us, and its complete or incompleteness, we still have to make a decision about what to do with problems world confronts us with or risk the tragedy that doing nothing is even worse.

    In the case of addiction, and the personal and social costs, we as a society — no matter if we call a disease, a socio-political phenomenon or consequence of declining moral character — can confront it with more understanding and compassion, by recognizing first that we are all flawed. We can all make a wrong decision on the journey of life, no matter how fine you think your breeding may be.

    Reply
  129. bartholomew February 3, 2014 at 10:18 pm

    What a dumb “progressive” view clinically speaking. The excuses get old and they come out most when one of our “heroes” goes down. Absolutely selfish. You have responsibilities, you have a family, you are successfully. But stick a needle in your arm JO. Who is held to now accountability after the first pin prick? Your opinion is very sad and dangerous. How I think about this guy has nothing to do w how I feel for the typical addict. This is how u cull a herd. It has nothing to do w his wealth and everything to do w his arrogance. You lose all credibility calling him a great talent of our time. I’d have felt more compassion if he was a depressant.

    Reply
  130. Antonio February 3, 2014 at 10:20 pm

    Addiction is deeply selfish. This is self-evident to the loved ones of addicts, and to the addicts themselves when they begin to confront their addiction. In fact, the untangling of selfishness and addiction has been a mainstay of addiction treatment for decades. That’s because for a meaningful recovery to occur, an addict must fearlessly confront his or her own shortcomings — and at the top of that list is selfishness. I’ve known many addicts, mostly alcoholics, including many family members. All who recovered realized the deep selfishness intrinsic to their addictions. The rest are dead.

    Reply
  131. QuoterGal February 3, 2014 at 10:30 pm

    Jeez. I used & recovered, but that doesn’t mean I can’t spare a little sympathy for the folks that didn’t make it. I mean, good for me, and good for you, but criminy, have a little compassion not only for them, but for the part of you that used. It can get pretty tangled in there, and you don’t know what their privileges/chances/opportunities/abilities/burdens were as compared to yours. You *can’t* know.

    Reply
  132. B February 3, 2014 at 10:37 pm

    I disagree that drug addicts aren’t selfish. They clearly are. They allow the desire for the drug to overshadow the desire to get clean for those that love them. It stems from selfishness. Most drug addicts I’ve been around in my life have selfishly refused help, as well. That is also a choice. The more you “baby” an addict the more they will take advantage of you.

    Growing up I dabbled in experimenting with light drugs, and was offered hard drugs consistently. Each and every time I refused because I felt responsible to take care of myself not only for me but my family and those who love me. I couldnt take the chance that something might happen to me while I was out of control or under the influence of something that has the power to kill or make you do stupid things. I dont think drug addicts are bad people. But once you love yourself and have enough respect for those who care aboutt you, you find the strength to fight that uphill battle and win. Its possible. Many people have gotten and stayed clean.

    Reply
  133. stuart February 3, 2014 at 10:40 pm

    i hear a lot of talk about “SHOWING COMPASSION” TO these addicts… ????????????

    Why do people think that we are not compassionate??
    We have been compassionate and been lied to, stolen from, lied to some more…

    Compassion is for people who are trying to better themselves, but are being kept from doing that, that is outside of their control.

    This is not outside of their control, they know what their doing, they know when their lying to someone, they know when their stealing from people who are showing them compassion. They know when they stick that dick in their arm.

    SO THEY DESERVE NONE!

    TO BE HONEST; ITS OUR COMPASSION THAT HAS HELPED ENABLE THEM,
    BY GIVING THEM MONEY,
    GIVING THEM A PLACE TO STAY,
    GIVING THEM THE OPPORTUNITY TO STEAL FROM US,
    STILL TREATING THEM LIKE A FRIEND,
    EVEN THOUGH THEY ARE WORTHLESS PIECES OF SHIT,

    I SAY END ANY AND ALL COMPASSION, ENOUGH NIGHTS LIVING IN THE SNOW WITH NO FOOD TO EAT; WILL HELP CHANGE THEM MORE THAN BEING COMPASSIONATE.

    Reply
  134. B February 3, 2014 at 10:53 pm

    Stuart, I SO agree with you. The energy should be going to encourage people that find the strength to say no and to educate. There are too many excuss and unnecessary sympathy. Who in the world at this point doesn’t know that heroin and cocaine are highly addictive and destroy lives!? I think its ridiculous that anyone would consciously pick up those habits!

    Reply
  135. Kathy R February 3, 2014 at 11:01 pm

    As the mother of a son that just relapsed after two years sober, I’d like to tell you about the many talks I had with my beloved son. I was so excited that he had finally come out of what he called the demons of hell. This young man that I yearned to get to know since he was fifteen had finally emerged and I loved what I found. He is almost twenty seven now and almost made it. He called me on the phone last week on his way home from what we thought was his after care from rehab meeting crying telling me he had to tell me that he had relapsed. We talked and cried and talked some more. He tried to explain the draw that this high had on him and how it was in his head every day of his life. He said he knew that he hurt people, he knew that he lost the trust of people, he knew that it was wrong and he knew that it may kill him but the urge was just too much. The worst thing a parent has to do is just let go and let God, walk away. It has been a week since we told him he had to leave and not come back. We had to block our phones and lock our house down because an addict will steal anything they can to get that next high. This is not the son I hoped I would have but it will always be my son. He is has been a week and we don’t know where he is or even if he is alive. We do know that there are only two outcomes of this relapse, prison or death. What a thing to have to face as a parent who has stood by their childs stints in jail and rehab after rehab. To me, prison or death are the same for this beautiful boy. The discussions above about being selfish, no I don’t think by choice because drugs don’t allow for choice. The only choice that does come with drugs is for the family, friends and loved ones to walk away and same themselves

    Reply
    • Tresa February 4, 2014 at 2:13 am

      Kathy their is one other outcome. It’s what us addicts and alcoholics call “a belly full of booze and a head full of AA”. Meaning that he in fact might be getting high right now but from what he has learned in the time he was clean is definatly screwing with his high. He could realize that their is a better way to live and come back to the rooms of recovery.

      Keeping him I our prayers!

      Reply
  136. Lara February 3, 2014 at 11:01 pm

    I agree we can all have more empathy for an addict, especially one that looses their battle. However I am very put off (even offended) that the writer would speak about Mr. Hoffman, his loved ones and his battle as if they had first hand knowledge. The writer clearly does not. We do not know Mr. Hoffman’s frame of mind, what was going on in his private life or what the relationship was between him and his loved ones.

    Clearly the writer is speaking for how she feels about her personal relationship with her father and loosing him to addiction as well as his absence from her daily life as well as major milestones. Please do not project your issues and personal feelings onto a situation even if it is public that you do not know anything about.

    Reply
  137. Shanna February 3, 2014 at 11:16 pm

    Selfish – (of a person, action, or motive) lacking consideration for others; concerned chiefly with one’s own personal profit or pleasure.

    I have a sister who has been an addict for 15 years. She has stolen from and lied to everyone in the family. She has neglected responsibility for her two small children, whose lives have already been enormously impacted by their unstable environment. She has been the source of relentless tears, sleepless nights, anxiety, anger, worry, and devastation to our parents, grandparents, siblings, and nephews.
    And in those fifteen years, she has made zero attempts to seek or receive help. My empathy has left the building

    Selfish? At best.

    Reply
  138. Tom February 3, 2014 at 11:40 pm

    There is no empirical evidence that addictive substance abuse is a selfish act. To the contrary, there is ever increasing evidence that it is a mental illness to which some are genetically predisposed.

    I would suggest that the “Selfish Act” theory does not explain addictive substance abuse, it merely generates sufficient guilt in some to aid in their recovery. That is not necessarily a bad thing. However, it is wrong to believe that it should work for everyone. It clearly does not. There are many who subscribe to the Selfish Act theory who have relapsed and many who do not subscribe to it who remain in long term recovery.

    If you believe that addictive substance abuse is a selfish act and so believing aids in your recovery, God bless you. But don’t be so egotistical and selfish as to think you have the definitive answer. Don’t shut the door on others for whom your way of thinking doesn’t work and for whom it may be destructive.

    Finally, don’t hinder the great strides that have been made by dedicated professionals researching the cause and treatment of addiction. Your message that addictive substance abuse is simply a selfish act jeopardizes their continued work. Ironically, that would be the ultimate selfish act.

    Reply
  139. tom February 3, 2014 at 11:49 pm

    Junky + Overdose = Good riddance

    Unless there was foul play each and every time (especially the first) the needle put the magic into his body, he deserved what he got. One can only assume he was educated enough to know the risk and the legacy of pain, embarrassment and humiliation that will be left for his family. He was a phenomenal actor, probably a nice guy, but definitely a fucking idiot. Shame his flesh will pollute the Earth.

    Reply
  140. CA February 4, 2014 at 12:01 am

    I can’t believe the ignorance shown in some of these comments. Addiction IS a disease. Addiction physically alters your brain. Dopamine is released when we eat, exercise, have sex, quench thirst — it’s evolutions way of telling us that these things are good and necessary for survival. This is where addiction hits in the brain, only the amount of dopamine released from drug use is way out of proportion to those things needed to actually survive. Drug use becomes, quite literally, seemingly more important than eating, than procreating, than doing the necessary things for survival. Your body physically craves the drug. Your body, without any thought from you, tells itself that this is now necessary for survival. Addiction is affecting a primitive/primal part of our brains. This feels good, I need this, let’s remember this. An active addiction is like an unsatisfiable hunger…a deep yearning that comes from the brain and the physical changes that have been made.

    And all that aside, addiction is the only disease that “talks” to you. It tells you that you are worthless, that things are hopeless, that you can’t recover. It traps you. Yes, it leads you to do selfish things but I believe that the very cause of that is because of the hopelessness and worthlessness felt. Addiction is unbelievably lonely and terrifying for the addict. The addict is out of control and has lost power of choice. It doesn’t have anything to do with willpower or moral standings.

    It infuriates me that people still view addiction that way. So many lives are lost (roughly 105 a day) due to addicts either being in denial due in large part to social stigma’s and not wanting to confront their reality, or they die because of fear — fear of failing, of not being enough, of having gone too far, of “coming out” to those in their lives, of having to face whatever it is they began using drugs to escape from in the first place.

    I’m a recovering heroin and crack addict and I’ve had to fight like hell for my life back. I made poor choices and I did selfish things, yeah, but I promise that for the last five years of my addiction my life was hell and I wanted out of it EVERY single day but just COULD NOT stop. Until you’ve lived that true desperation and depravity, you really don’t have any place to speak. Suicide was a constant thought — anything to make the madness stop for not only myself but those around me. I figured if I was going to keep relapsing and putting my family through hell that I might as well end my life and save them the years of let downs. My addiction “spoke to me” and told me I had crossed a line I was never meant to cross and that I was now fucked. That I should just throw the towel in and call it a day…that there was no point in even trying.

    I’ve also had friends die from this disease — some of them directly in front of me. Were they selfish because they died as drug addicts? No, they were hurt souls who needed help and were either unwilling or unable to get it at the time. It’s not always as easy as, “okay, I’m ready for help…help me now.” I know firsthand the BS that some insurance companies pull (“Heroin and crack withdrawal is not life threatening so we won’t cover detox” — hello idiots, continuing to use IS life threatening) and the long waits (was three months when I was trying to get clean) to get into free county programs. There aren’t always the resources people need to get the help they deserve. It’s a complicated problem and unfortunately very misunderstood.

    Reply
  141. R February 4, 2014 at 12:18 am

    Addiction is not a disease. A disease is caused by a foreign life form in the body that is communicable. Addiction is however, a physiological condition of the body. The essence of this condition is indeed selfish, in that the weakness in the brain allows the cravings for pleasure in the body to override what the brain knows is good for the body and it’s surrounding support system. The incidence of self loathing, guilt, what have you does not obviate the selfishness of the sufferer, it only highlights the selfishness of said sufferer. Of course these addicts were selfish, they cared more about their high than anything else. That it is a sad state of affairs is without a doubt, but selfish just the same. This is one speaking as an addict by the way. Only by realizing that it was my fault and no one else’s did healing come, and part of that was the realization that I was all about my pleasure and to hell with the consequences did change come about.
    .

    Reply
  142. dale February 4, 2014 at 12:20 am

    If we quit spending $ on our war against drugs and spent just half as much $ trying to help people with addiction and other mental health issues, fewer people would be dying from these problems spiraling into deaths that make or don’t make it into the news.

    Reply
  143. stuart February 4, 2014 at 12:32 am

    The people defending this ‘addiction’ are just proving my point.

    Yes, we know its addictive, explaining how it reacts with receptors in the brain doesn’t clarify that or make it ok. yes its not just a psychological addiction. SO WHAT?

    I Love Chocolate, it makes me feel good, it also acts with receptors in my brain, like anything does, or we wouldn’t know it happened.
    But i don’t shoot chocolate into my veins and steal my Mom’s chocolate..

    I would encourage suicide.

    And these “FREE COUNTY PROGRAMS” ARE NOT FREE!!
    They are paid for either by taxpayers who go to work each day, or through charitable contributions. wouldn’t that money be better spent elsewhere, besides fixing your stupid, dumb decisions.?

    I would expect this crying out of a 12 year old. But maybe it is a character trait and not genetic and pre-disposed conditions. I don’t think God or Darwin built us to be addicted to Heroin…?? Yes we are addicted to food and water, bc we need it to be alive.

    This is more of ME, ME, Me, Poor ME, Help Me, I won’t help you, but give me, give me, give me.

    I’ll say it again, then i’m out, bc you whiners make me sick!
    GROW UP, TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR YOUR ACTIONS! STOP BEING A LITTLE CHILD! STOP BLAMING YOUR MOMMY AND DADDY FOR YOUR PROBLEMS, STOP THINKING SOCIETY IS HERE TO FIX YOU, FIX YOURSELF OR BE ‘NATURALLY SELECTED’ OUT. STOP THINKING SOMEONE OWES YOU ANYTHING, STOP THINKING THAT INSURANCE COMPANIES SHOULD PAY FOR YOUR POOR JUDGEMENT OF USING AN ILLEGAL SUBSTANCE. ITS NOT A DISEASE, THAT’S ANOTHER COP OUT FOR THE WEAK. YOU DIDN’T BREAK YOUR LEG, OR CATCH A REAL DISEASE — YOU STUCK A NEEDLE IN YOUR ARM!

    Reply
  144. Kathryn Stone February 4, 2014 at 12:35 am

    The best essay I have read so far-he was alone alone a man who was adored. He wasn’t out woo hoo partying driving some Ferrari like Justin Bieber. Somebody in this article confirms he was in pain emotional pain. We addicts are silent in our world of shame and guilt. People try to help us with psychiatry religion sex but it doesn’t reach down to the core.

    Reply
  145. Amy February 4, 2014 at 12:56 am

    All of you saying addicts are selfish or horrible people draining others on purpose and citing the addict in your life who was selfish… Did you so to think that maybe not all addicts are selfish and maybe that person was just an asshole? They exist, within and outside of, drug addiction.
    None of you know the pain of another so stop being so self-righteous.

    Reply
  146. stuart February 4, 2014 at 12:59 am

    I tell you what, when i run across an addict who is not a Liar, Thieve, Selfish Loser, I’ll let you know.

    Mine are not just one person, but every addict i meet, which is in my state, every female

    Reply
  147. Margaret Warch February 4, 2014 at 1:00 am

    I am an ex-heroin addict. I was in pain and I handled it poorly. I did not want to be an addict. I just wanted the hurt to stop, if only for a moment.
    I woke up every day saying I want to stop
    I couldn’t.
    I went on and off drugs for over 10 years and each day I did not want to use.
    Eventually I found something and someone who helped me.I am fortunate. It did not kill me..
    Nobody says when they are a kid, when I grow up I wanna be a dope addict.
    I lost a daughter to heroin. I know it was an accident.
    She just wanted the pain to stop. I understand.
    Maybe instead of treating addicts like scum of the earth we should try to
    help them get through the pain.
    Understand.Love. And hope that you have enough time with them that they can shake the bad and feel the good and get over the guilt and pain.
    Most addicts I know are wonderful people. They just feel a lot deeper than most.

    Reply
  148. RTW February 4, 2014 at 1:00 am

    I am glad to see most disagree with your opinion.You have obviously never had a opiate addiction.
    I was a heroin user for 20yrs and thankfully have been in recovery for 10.
    PSH,from what I read,also had been in recovery.Re entering the dark abyss of opiate addiction with 3 very young children is nothing less than selfish.
    I lost my father at 8yrs old but he died of cancer-it wasn’t his choice.Growing up without a father is tough.
    You spoke of empathy…how about some empathy for the 3 young children without a father.Had he not been so selfish they would still have a dad.
    Im going to assume your in your mid 20′s-in about 10 yrs you’ll question why you had this opinion.If your older you have a lot of growing to do.

    Reply
  149. stuart February 4, 2014 at 1:05 am

    More blaming others….wah wah wah.

    from what these addicts say, “they can’t stop”, so that means they should not try to stop, just keep shootin’ till you finish the job.

    Reply
  150. Lesli February 4, 2014 at 1:07 am

    Great article!!! well said!! I am a recovering crack/cocaine/meth addict with 5 years clean – and i can tell you first hand it was NEVER what i wanted in my life –to be a slave to that drug. It was lonely and evil. and im so glad I am free. Thank you so much for writing this. It was articulate and well written. It touched my heart.

    Reply
  151. stuart February 4, 2014 at 1:07 am

    “Most addicts are wonderful people”

    I think I’ll make a T-Shirt

    Reply
  152. stuart February 4, 2014 at 1:11 am

    “It is not what i wanted”
    YES IT WAS. it is exactly what you wanted, or you wouldn’t have done it!

    we only do what we want to do,
    no one forced you to smoke crack and shoot heroin did they??

    The Crack/Heroin Fairy at work again?? Snuck into your room and shot you up?

    Reply
  153. Kevin February 4, 2014 at 1:20 am

    What exactly is the difference between the person who overdoses the first time she uses a drug and the 1,000th time another person uses that same drug? Are we really left symphasizing with the latter whilst chalking up the former to bad decision making? Are the cumulative negative externalities of the latter not substantially greater than the former?

    Is an alcoholic who runs over a child while intoxicated not responsible for the child’s death?

    Do we not punish the serial killer who is, biologically speaking, addicted to the act of killing for pleasure?

    70 bags of heroin with three kids in the house isn’t selfish. Right. Got it. Three kids are left to grow up without a father and the natural response is to defend the man who left them that way.

    How ironic, to say that we are something less than the choices we make. Powerless we must be to control our own fate.

    Then again, none of us chose to comment here. So I don’t hold any of the shortsighted posts against anyone. We’re all addicted to the internet–we can’t possibly avoid posting pure noise on meaningless message boards.

    Reply
  154. Ted Viens February 4, 2014 at 1:22 am

    Philip Seymour Hoffman was murdered by The War On Drugs.

    If you want to make a difference in your life and the world, you will comment on every posting about Philip Seymour Hoffman that “Philip Seymour Hoffman was murdered by The War On Drugs.”

    If all drug abuse was decriminalized and treated as a health problem in health clinics, Every addict would be treated with clean meds in a doctor managed program.

    The War On Drugs would not, in fact, be a dirty and tattered cloak hiding the excessive enrichment by the needless appropriation of immense tax revenues for the law enforcement industry.

    The War On Drugs would not, in fact, be the phony excuse for the massive sucking of our public taxes into the massive prisoners for profit Private Prison Industry.

    Perhaps some gifted politicians would even take the tens of Billions of Dollars saved by these measures as the “offset savings” demanded by conservatives to pay for a real educational system, the repair of our rotting infrastructure, and the social safety net programs so vital for the no longer needed workers and their families in our country.

    Reply
  155. John February 4, 2014 at 1:22 am

    Boy, everybody’s got an opinion here, don’t they? I think the writer of this article struck a nerve. “I’m a drug interventionist and addiction is selfish, so there!” “I’m a heroin addict and I know I was selfish, so there!” Aren’t you all missing the point? There is a place in addiction where selfishness is an unavoidable component of the addiction. There is a place where the addict is not just in denial, but in a vortex they can’t see out of. As an alcoholic/addict and sponsor in 12 step programs, it is that vital mixture of compassion and strength that saves. It was given to me, and I give it to others. Merely chiding the addict for their “selfishness” without compassion for the draw is ineffective, in my opinion. And some people don’t make it. Are they to be damned by the likes of you? Get over yourself and go help someone.

    Reply
  156. Anonymous February 4, 2014 at 1:40 am

    Who cares, it’s both. When we’re in the disease, we are selfish but we do not have a choice or control over whether or not we are selfish because we have the phenomenon of craving. Think of it as if we are new vampires, unable to control our impulses. When we are in recovery we are selfless, but only an act of a higher power/spiritual experience can remove our character defect of selfishness. If you want to know more about it you can always read the book “Alcoholics Anonymous.” It pretty much sums it up.

    Reply
  157. stuart February 4, 2014 at 1:43 am

    funny, i was just thinking of the vampire analogy, So if vamp’s were real, they shouldn’t be held responsible for the people they kill, because they are ‘addicted’ to blood.

    Your a fucking MORON!

    and that person who says they are an ‘interventionist’ whatever the f that is. You are an ENABLER, not a therapist.

    Reply
  158. stuart February 4, 2014 at 1:49 am

    WE’ve focused on the word “SELFISHNESS” Because the writer brought that up. As PSH’s interview about his alcoholic dad.

    Sorry PSH, but you were just making excuses for your dad. He was selfish to miss your events, due to drinking. And since we now know you were an addict as well, your opinion on this matter, was obviously very self-serving.

    So then i wondered if we were focusing on the ‘word’ too much…
    But there is no better word to describe the totality of addicts….SELFISHNESS.
    It fits so well,

    I wish they would lighten up on prescription drugs, bc the crackdown on that has helped this Heroin to take over the country. Has anyone realized this?
    I’m not saying Rx drug use is good, but much better than Shooting H into your heart.

    Reply
  159. Celeste Dancer February 4, 2014 at 1:51 am

    COMPASSION

    Reply
  160. Beachdog67 February 4, 2014 at 1:55 am

    I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many “former addicts” in one place in my life.
    Amazing.
    I’m not a “former” anything. I AM 32 years clean & sober in recovery, living a life I never imagined possible.
    That’s good enough for me.

    Reply
  161. Nikki February 4, 2014 at 2:09 am

    Wow, a lot of angry responses. Alcoholism is a disease, a real one. John, I love your response. Thank you, so well said; “merely chiding the addict for their “selfishness” without compassion for the draw is ineffective, in my opinion. And some people don’t make it. Are they to be damned by the likes of you? Get over yourself and go help someone.” I would like to add to that, and maybe forgive someone? These extremely angry responses make me think the responder has been deeply hurt by an addict. Compassion and understanding of the disease can be very healing.

    Reply
  162. Vicki February 4, 2014 at 2:09 am

    Wonderful insight in to the loneliness & despair of addiction. For non-addicts/alcoholics it is extremely difficult to understand an addict’s/alcoholic’s seemingly hopeless state of mind. I hope that as human beings we can all send comforting thoughts to PSH family & friends, & stop the criticism of PSH’s personal demons.

    Reply
  163. Vicki February 4, 2014 at 2:13 am

    Also, I’m a recovered addict. Yes, I said recovered. I’m not in recovery or a former addict. I’m happy, joyous, & free, because God did for me what I couldn’t do for myself.

    Reply
  164. Nikki February 4, 2014 at 2:18 am

    This conversation seems like a lot of egos and hurt hearts colliding. Selfish or not, this is sad. How about we all put our self-righteous (which I would call selfish) views aside for a moment to honor a man who died. Rest in peace, PSH.

    Reply
  165. Virginia February 4, 2014 at 2:22 am

    To everyone who disagrees with the article & is a ‘former’ addict, news flash for you lot: THERE’S NO SUCH THING AS BEING A FORMER ADDICT! The addict label sticks with you for the rest of your life whether you like it or not! I’m removed from prescription drugs for 5 years, alcohol for 4 years, and I refer to myself as a RECOVERING addict, NOT a former addict! Do I have temptations to go back to booze & prescriptions? Absolutely, because I’m human. What helped me remain clean & sober is the support system I’m forever blessed to have in my life today. That and the arts keep me away from booze and prescriptions. I’m even more blessed to learn that in late January last year, 3 days after my 31st birthday (I’m 32) a dear friend of mine got sober (she goes to AA meetings) and I’m so proud of having her in my life today. As a sister of those who abused alcohol and learning stories about how my mom’s first husband drank himself to death (my oldest sister’s dad – mom married 3 times; mom was blamed for mentioned spouse drinking himself to death) & my mom having Dementia, disease of any kind is not selfish – addiction is a disease, disease knows NO ONE. There are so many circumstances in PSH’s case, and we NEED to stop criminalizing addiction for crying out loud!

    May PUSH rest in paradise!

    Reply
  166. Brad jones February 4, 2014 at 2:24 am

    Wonder we tried the drugs to begin with???

    Reply
  167. Brad jones February 4, 2014 at 2:25 am

    I meant to say why did we even try the drugs to begin with

    Reply
  168. Kelley S. February 4, 2014 at 2:26 am

    This is really well written, but I think it’s important to note that overeating is killing us…just more slowly. And the compulsion that drives people to eat certain foods, or to repeated excess.is also torturous.

    Being compelled against your will is horrific. Doing it with full awareness while in relapse from recovery is hell on earth.

    I’m so sad for Mr. Hoffman and all who loved him. I wish he had found the other rooms, the ones for the people who can’t stop eating. I feel like that might have been the missing piece for him.

    Reply
  169. Nikki February 4, 2014 at 2:26 am

    I accidently wrote “alcoholism” (because that is where I identify with this)…but meant to write addiction :)

    Reply
  170. S Seibl February 4, 2014 at 2:35 am

    Actually addiction is selfish. It is a solo experience. One is aware of only oneself when high or drunk. It is a sucky disease and if one was aware of how it affects other people, if they could, they might be able to not indulge. Until one has the belief in oneself that they are important without tuning out and turning on they are doomed to repeat.

    Reply
  171. evilrobert February 4, 2014 at 2:45 am

    Having read the original piece, and read through these comments, I’ve realized a few things.

    The people flaming Phillip Seymour Hoffman and asserting their opinions that he was “selfish” are making assumptions that they lived his life and they were in his brain every day. Everyone is different, and in the trenches of addiction, we’re all there for different reasons. There is no one reason that makes someone else better or worse than you. You’re just as human and he was, and he was just as human as you are.

    Phillip Seymour Hoffman was an addict who fought to stay clean for 23 years before relapsing last year.He regained control again after a stint in rehab (June of last year), but after the end of a 10 year plus long term relationship (with the mother of the children everyone keeps throwing about like they should have been a barrier between him and his addiction), he fell prey to his addiction again.

    Yes, it’s true. A majority of people have that choice to say no to the first hit. I think we can all agree on that. But once you say yes, can we really say that it’s a choice when someone’s writhing in agony, balled up on the floor wishing they’d die so they could stop feeling the pain of craving? How much choice is there when the primal human mentality kicks in to fulfill need?

    And I pose this last thing this way. If those who judge him as being selfish and inconsiderate believe that… Why didn’t you break your addictions early on, if it was just a simple decision of making a choice of yourself over your friends, family, and your own quality of life? 23 years of sobriety says that he wasn’t choosing himself over everyone else. He was in pain, he was distressed, and he succumbed to the addiction within.

    Corri, this was brilliant. I was not only moved by it because of many relationships I’ve had with addicts and watched them emotionally destroy themselves with the problem of not wanting to use anymore, but not feeling like they had a choice in the matter anymore; but because this is also the same rhetoric we address other groups with problems we don’t fully understand. This whole notion of society claiming the afflicted are “selfish and not thinking of anyone else” expands into the world of suicide survivors just as easily. We do all need to embrace empathy a little bit more, because we can’t begin to imagine what it’s like in someone else’s shoes, even if we have similar experiences.

    Reply
  172. addicted and ashamed February 4, 2014 at 2:56 am

    I am a needle junkie and I guess u could say I’m selfish and not selfish at the same time……I saw that Mr Hoffman had passes and as sad as it is I still used today……I know the risks and I hate using it lost its fun years ago. But at this point it’s not about fun. It’s about feeling normal. Like it says in the article It starts to become u just like eating and sleep. I have been in treatment several times and have failed miserably. I hate this. I know it’s a matter of time till I’m just like Mr Hoffman and I feel I can’t stop it. When u have an addiction like I do there is nothing you won’t say or do to get your fix and to make yourself feel ok about doing it. It’s not till after I shoot up that I start feeling guilty. I feel I am failing my family and friends for I am a single father but I don’t know where to begin to fix myself. I’m sure Mr Hoffman hated doing what he was doing but like me felt asking for help would be letting down everyone around him that didn’t know he had a problem. So it kinda feels like a double edge sword u live secretly in addiction he’ll or u seek treatment and lose all the things and people you have around you and be known as an addict for the rest of your life…..It’s lonely and very hard to secretly be an addict wanting nothing but to turn back time and change the choices that put you here to begin with. I pray for Mr Hoffman and his family and totally understand what he went through

    Reply
    • stuart February 4, 2014 at 3:06 am

      hi,
      I thought your post was well written, even if i dont agree with all of it, but it was honest so i can’t disagree with your honesty.

      I feel that you do have the power to stop, i can see it in your writing. hear it in your ‘voice’

      Does it not feel better to have your kids smile at you?

      Good Luck Buddy! I see great things in your future!

      Reply
    • please.ask.for.help February 4, 2014 at 9:54 am

      Ask for help. Ask everyone. Keep asking until you get it. It’s the people who won’t ask, won’t admit to having a problem, who allow things to get worse and worse who seem selfish. Pride just isn’t worth it. People who love you *want* to help you. Let them.

      Reply
  173. JL February 4, 2014 at 3:01 am

    I don’t believe substance addiction is a disease. It’s a choice you make each and every time you use. Yes it is terrible that people get to the state that they rely on it so much but I can’t see how it is a disease.

    Also we pretend that we know the man. We don’t.

    Great article though

    Reply
  174. Harley February 4, 2014 at 3:17 am

    Stuart…you are a tool. RIP PHS

    So funny how so many of you just know what it is and how it is. You have no clue at all what has happened in someones life that brings them down a path of self destruction. If it makes you feel better by calling it selfish, a disease/not a disease or comparing it to one thing or another…have at it. My program is just that. It’s mine. I own what I did and what I’m doing. I have taken responsibility for my decisions. When you have hit rock bottom and cheated death, you know the only thing getting you back up is your willingness to continue. I can tell you what I’m not going to do…I’m not going to bash the legacy of a dead person for their decisions…what the hell does that matter? Thus, I am left with both empathy and sympathy for those that have to pick up the pieces tomorrow.

    And lastly, did I say Stuart is an ass-hat? You need help my friend.

    Reply
    • stuart February 4, 2014 at 3:28 am

      Firstly dicksuck, i wasn’t necessarily referring to PSH; i doubt he stole from his friends to support his habit. since he had money. And no i don’t know what he went through, i have no issue with him. he doesn’t affect my life.
      But this drug affects people who had a great life, raised well, etc. , so again, don’t blame it on ‘what someone is dealing with’ boo hoo.

      but i agree with the rest of what you said, you take responsibility for your own actions.

      and I hope you relapse, so i can piss on your grave. Nah, i wouldn’t waste the piss on you.

      Reply
  175. Roger W. Sisson February 4, 2014 at 3:20 am

    I am astonished at the variety of understandings of what it means to be selfish. I fall among those who maintain that once one is ”hooked” the behavior ceases to be selfish because the user or addict is incapable of control and that eventual redemption will only come via extraordinary measures (success in a 12 step group or other means of attaining sobriety.)

    Compassion and empathy need to be cultivated. They are in short supply!

    Reply
  176. stuart February 4, 2014 at 3:38 am

    Addicts want ‘compassion’ which means they want people to help them get their fix. And/or feel sorry for them.

    Compassion to me, means not giving them that money to get that fix, bc then i would be an enabler, not compassionate, but helping this person shoot up.

    I have been compassionate to a fault, and realize now that i was only making it worse by accepting their habit and helping them.

    If everyone is so compassionate, go find a Heroin Addict and let them move into your house. You will find out real quick what being compassionate to an animal will get you.

    Addicts don’t fall out of the sky, they are addicted bc they WANT to be addicted.
    I have no compassion for stupidity.

    I am the first to help someone who has helped themselves first. don’t expect others to do what you won’t do for yourself.
    Mommy can’t change your diapers your entire life. But then you would sell your diapers to buy dope and shit in your pants.

    Reply
  177. CL February 4, 2014 at 3:39 am

    Congratulations to anyone who has never experienced alcohol or drug addiction. I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. Add depression to that and it’s even worse. Anyone who has never expeienced one or any of these can hypothesize until the end of time about blah blah blah. If you’ve never experienced any or all of them then you really don’t know what the fcuk you’re talking about… do you? You should consider yourself lucky, and walk away.

    Reply
  178. stuart February 4, 2014 at 3:46 am

    Why does everyone think that people who don’t make excuses for addiction have never been addicted, or don’t do drugs??

    i’ve got lots of drugs here, but still have no sympathy for Heroin Addicts.
    or crack or meth.

    I’m actually a pharmaceutical chemist, so i kinda love drugs.

    but what possesses people to take the worst most horrible drug out there?

    I think bc they think its “COOL” to stick a needle in their arm.
    I know Heroin addicts who won’t smoke pot…but i’ll stick a needle in my arm, i don’t get it?

    I’d like to hear some first time experiences, can someone tell me how and why they chose to take that first syringe? honestly.

    Reply
  179. stuart February 4, 2014 at 3:50 am

    Yeay! I’m an Ass-Hat!! woo hoo! hope its a girls ass.

    Fortunately, i stopped caring what addicts or ex addicts or what anyone else thinks.

    I don’t seek the advice of people stupid enough to shoot poison into their veins. be like asking a math question to a 2 year old.

    Reply
  180. youpeoplearecold February 4, 2014 at 3:50 am


    @Steven
    can you give an example…? It seems the whole world is saying AA or die and just as evryone’s addiction and struggles differ, for some, the ‘program’ truly doesn’t work. I’m a heroin addict of 6 years and wonder:
    why don’t we ever think about the first time a person used? There’s no question I’ve done many selfish things in my addiction but the desire to use and to stop are equally violent within me. As for those of you saying that the initial choice is selfish, why are you not considering all the factors involved? Me I was predisposed to drugs anyway and when dealing with grief of my boyfriend’s death and untreated depression undiagnosed since childhood I ‘chose’ to stick a needle in my arm. Truly it was not a concious choice. I wanted a break from the pain, that was the extent of my logic at that time.

    All you pretentious addicts and nonaddicts and recovered and those who have absolutely no experience yet are on your highhorses…. Some of you are so cold and seem to forget what we’re actually talking about here. IF THIS WERE SOMEONE YOU CARE ABOUT YOU WOULD NOT BE SO HEARTLESS. You people disgust me and make me ashamed to be human. @evilrobert: thanks for your comment. I think the discourse about selfishness is as f— up to be having here as it is when relating to suicide.

    PLEASE PEOPLE, I implore you to dig inside for a little bit of compassion for others regardless of their selfishness or generosity or who cares what the f— else. My heart is heavy & I wish comfort for those who knew the man… Not us pretentious a–holes sitting here waxing poetic and claiming we are the final word on morality. RIP to this man and all the others who have died and will die of this painful compulsion.

    “I’ve noticed the ones who are disagreeing with this post are all 12 Step members. One of the major reasons I left all of those sick people behind and then got sober for good. The judgement and armchair psychologists that those programs produce are dangerous to the addict. Old programs with zero practical advice on how to get and stay clean. There are medications and programs out there other than AA and NA – I pray that my fellow sufferers find them.”

    Reply
  181. Harley February 4, 2014 at 3:51 am

    Stuart….go lay by your dish. You have nothing. Zero.

    Reply
  182. Mary February 4, 2014 at 3:54 am

    I think we all agree here that once you started using you become the slave of you addiction and it’s not really a question of free will anymore. Call it selfishness if you want.

    The question then is, why do people choose to start using? Is it out of selfishness? The answer is difficult and multiple. There’re as many answers as there’re addicts. Everybody is different, as neurosciences keep showing, we were not born equal, with the same range of emotions, with the same way to respond to stimuli…
    I know I started because my extreme empathy and sensitivity had made my life unbearable.

    It’s hard to read people here calling it selfishness because I know it was the contrary, and I want to believe it was the same for Mr Hoffman.

    It’s no surprise that people here calling it a selfish act will probably never have to deal with an addiction precisely because of their lack of empathy. It doesn’t make them better or worse, people just need to acknowledge how different we are from one another. It’s the beginning of understanding.

    “Never judge a man without putting yourself in his place.”
    This old proverb makes all judgment impossible,
    for we judge someone only because, in fact,
    we cannot put ourselves in his place.
    - Cioran

    Reply
  183. youpeoplearecold February 4, 2014 at 3:55 am

    Anyone on this thread affected personally or indirectly by heroin addiction should have enough decency to be empathetic for this loss of life. And anyone not affected by heroin addiction personally or indirectly has absolutely no business commenting on this topic.

    Reply
  184. stuart February 4, 2014 at 4:11 am

    My point is folks, and its just my point, everyone has one.

    Until we start treating Heroin Addiction as a bad thing, and stop making excuses for it, and the people who use it, will it ever have a chance of stopping. ?

    I honestly think it is killing America, and an entire generation. Do ya’ll realize kids in their 20′s are falling left and right, not just dying, but killing any chance at a future.?
    prostitution is rampant, your daughters, your sisters, someones mom.

    But everyone wants to justify it, and just say, “well he had some deep issues”, “yeah, he had some issues”.
    Well he is dead now, did that help?
    (and i don’t refer to PSH specifically, i’m referring to the numerous heroin addicts i’ve dealt with)

    I’m talking ‘tough love’ or ‘tough compassion’ do you think as many would do it, if we had a zero tolerance on users?
    Sympathy, sympathy is what they want, “feel sorry for me’, i’m on Heroin, I can’t control it, I have to leave my children and steal things”

    I’m sorry, but anything and i mean anything that would cause you a parent to lose your children and you care more about some ‘feeling’ that a drug gives you…is just beyond me, you obviously should have never had kids.
    We need to stop thinking that is ok, bc this drug is addictive and gives user no control. No control infers that they can never stop, but people do stop, so you can’t say you have no control, it is a choice.

    So we need to make it less comfortable to be a junky. Less sympathy/pity; sure empathy is fine, i can have empathy and still tell the h addict to get the fuck off my property.

    and empathy or understanding for the dead is great, but it only helps you, doesn’t help the dead folks.

    And some of you are reading me wrong, i have nothing but empathy; if i didn’t i wouldn’t be writing about this. I want people to get off and stay away from this drug! A guy just died, and many die each day; and everyone just wants to make excuses and feel sorry for the dead guy, Lets try to stop it from happening!

    Reply
  185. lbjack February 4, 2014 at 4:15 am

    Depends on the context. Using drugs, particularly hard drugs, is selfish in proportion to your responsibilities. If your use is just hurting you, then selfishness is not the issue. If your use is hurting others, PARTICULARLY THE CHILDREN YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR, then you are way reckless and way selfish.

    Reply
  186. CL February 4, 2014 at 4:17 am

    I’m not a heroin addict (not that that’s any better or worse than any other addiction), but I do know a lot about depression an addiction. My father is an alcoholic, and my mother is bipolar- no coincidence I ended up with both. And it haunts me daily. For me, I think the depression is where it started- then a few horrific life experiences- all of which made me want to kill any feelings I had. Turns out you can’t do that. Viscious cycle. Perhaps it was my choice to drink in the first place, but it wasn’t my choice to be depressed-it’s a constant struggle just to maintain. Suicide sees very inviting sometimes…. but that’s just selfish- so I guess I’ll continue to fight with myself. And occassionaly fight with the people that think they know it all when they really don’t even have a clue.

    Reply
  187. LadyIvory February 4, 2014 at 4:24 am

    I feel that like always there is many variations and sides to such a problem/diease/addiction, there is no just one standard reaction or emotion. Yes some people might be selfish with their drug abuse, but for some, the drug abuse stems from something else they they may not be able to control, for instance depression and anxiety. For experience I can say that it is super hard, even at a mid level of depression and anxiety to reign in your emotions, and feelings and try to break away from that type of anguish. Drugs, alcohol and recklessness feels like you are giving the sadness the finger, because it helps you feel normal and relaxed. (in my case- even though I’m no where near an addict) No- its not a great way to go about it, it fixes nothing long term, but when you feel like nothings going well, you don’t think straight. Your brain just wants to rid of the pain. Point is, everyone’s story of why they try drugs or get addicted isn’t as standard as you think.There is no right and wrong reason for why they do it. Every individual’s case is different, therefore we have no right to judge, especially when we don’t know. They may be selfish, they may not- but who are you to say whats going through their head, especially when you barely know the person. Try some empathy peeps.

    Reply
  188. Frank February 4, 2014 at 4:36 am

    First off, I too am a heroin addict that has been able to get clean by the Grace of God.

    I think there might be some misunderstanding in the viewpoints on addiction, and I doubt my comment here will change much, but I’ll throw my 2 cents in at least, why not.

    The reality here is much deeper than whether or not using drugs is self centered, thats question in and of itself seems to barely scrape the surface and really ignore the depth and complexity of addiction.

    Of course we are self centered when we’re using, and of course we don’t want to hurt anyone, but when it comes right down to it, when I was actively getting high, I came first, no one else, and thats just plain self centeredness. It is what it is.

    Because I was self centered it didn’t mean I was a bad person, nor does it mean that Philip Seymour Hoffman is a bad guy, being self centered means we just block ourselves from our own internal happiness. We’re made to love others, thats how we become happy and fill that hole inside. Everybody is self centered to an extent, as long as we are living in our physical form here on earth we will all be prone to some amount of self centeredness, typically addicts just take it a little bit further, and are usually extra sensitive people. Shoot, if I think someone looks at me wrong, I could possibly carry that with me all day and let it eat me up.

    The reality is that self centeredness is what fuels the addiction and keeps us trapped within it. Self centeredness keeps us humans beings miserable. The destruction of self centeredness is what frees us from the addiction and helps us to recover our spirits.

    Addiction and relapse start with the rationalization and justification of a self centered and resentful lifestyle.

    As a drug addict (that is now clean) I would use drugs as means of relief from my own self centeredness. If self centeredness were not at the root of addiction, I would have gotten clean long before I did. If drugs were the problem, I would have gotten clean after my first detox when I was separated from drugs and alcohol and got healthy again, and was freed from physical withdrawals. But it didnt happen. I went back. But why did I continually o back? Because I had an obsession of the mind for drugs, I wanted feel at peace and ease, and my mind told me that drugs were the only way to get there. I was wrong.

    If drugs were the problem, then why was I so miserable when I wasn’t getting high? Doctors told me I had depression. I was the kinda guy, where I would be driving in my car, and I would start crying out of nowhere, and I didn’t know why, all of sudden this pain would just come up over me, and that was when I was just a casual pot smoker.
    Its simple, my self centeredness was keeping me miserable. I took more from life than I gave. I had a self centered view on life, I could not live up to my own moral principles in thought or action, and when I perceived others to be failing at living up to my own moral code, I judged them for it. I started to build up a guilty conscience, I could not admit or see my own guilt, but instead I could only see it in others which perpetuated the problem, and as a result I would get anxiety, depression, boredom, and I had an overall general discontentment for life. I felt like I had a hole inside of myself, and then my haunting mental obsession would tell me that I needed to get high so I could feel alright.
    Throughout my life I would steal from others, people would steal from me, I would argue with others, people would argue with me, I was a contrarian, not because I had a real opinion just because I wanted to be different, I wouldn’t show up for other people, they didnt show up for me, I would focus on the shortcomings in other people, I believed other people focused on the shortcomings in me. I would screw over my friends, they would screw me over, I would wallow in self pity, I couldn’t let the negativity go, and on top of it all I would try to hide all of this from other people, I didn’t want anyone to see it. Wow, the pain I created for myself.
    Its not that I necessarily wanted to be this way, I was just mixed up in my perspective about where happiness came from. I didn’t want to see another way.
    I thought the world was a jungle, that I had go out and make things happen, even if that meant stepping on other people’s toes. As a result, if my plans went accordingly and I was ultimately successfulin my different plans I thought – well, then I’ll be happy. Only, my plans never went accordingly, I kept going backwards, things kept falling apart because I didn’t understand one little spiritual law – You reap what you sow. We are constantly sowing seeds whether it be through emotion, thoughts, or actions, and whatever I choose to harbor,or act on- be it negativity of positivity – its going to come back to me – no matter what, you can deny it, but you cant run from it, or hide from it. Sooner or later it always comes back to us.

    All of this pain I created for myself through my own self centeredness, and as a result I had to get high to live in my own skin, it was too painful not to.

    Finally one time after I was separated from drugs and alcohol again, I prayed and had a small moment of clarity, and it finally became obvious that I had to go a new way, I became obvious that the world was not a jungle, and that if I wanted to be happy I had to go the way of grace. I saw that the perspective I had built my life upon was all an illusion, that it didn’t work. None of it. That the resentments and grudges I held no matter how justified I thought they were had been waying me down, that my dishonesty no matter how big or small didn’t work, that self pity kept me alone, that all of my fears of the future weren’t real, self centeredness had kept me trapped in my mind, focused on my problems, my situations, if kept me focused on me all the time. It showed me all of the reasons why things wouldn’t work, why it was no use to try and re-integrate back into society, why I couldn’t do it, why I had created to deep a hole for myself, self centeredness told me “whats the point, I’ve done to much damage, I’m not good enough, I’ll never get out of this anxiety, I’ll never beat this addiction.”
    Love is what brought me out of that. And I’m not talking about love from others, even though that helped. I’m talking about me finally loving other people.
    It started with a prayer in jail. I had no options left, it was finally just me and the big guy and after enough pain, I said a prayer. In that prayer I was finally able to admit to God and to my innermost self that whatever I had been doing all of my life had not worked, my whole entire method of operation and my perception of life were completely backwards.

    In that prayer God gave me a moment of clarity though his love, and I had to share that love with other people. I’m not talking about running around knocking on people’s doors giving them bible’s, and if thats your thing thats cool, you have your purpose, just as everyone does. But for me, I’m talking about practical application from moment to moment. putting other people before myself, putting other people before my own plans and designs, before my own fears. I had to pray and ask god for help, to ask Him for the strength to change internally. To let go of my angers, and to let go of my fears. I knew if I put God first, meaning if I asked god for help in trying to change my perspective and my actions, everything else would fall into place, that this happiness and all these things I had been chasing all of my life would come right to me, as long as I keep a spiritual way of life first, and conducted myself accordingly moment to moment of every day, not perfectly, just the best I can. And I’m still no saint, believe me.
    Once I started on that road, that gigantic hole created by self centerdness that I had tried to fill with drugs got filled up with love, happiness and peace. There is a simple rule that I think most of us would agree in, being that which you give is what you receive. That might be tough for some to swallow, and you’re entitled to you’re own viewpoint, but I’ve experienced it.
    I’m still no saint, and staying clean and sober is not about living a perfect life, its about being willing and able to admit where I’m wrong in my actions, and in my perspectives. Its about being able to say I don’t know sometimes. Its about trying to put others first before my own little plans, designs, and desires. Its about letting the internal negativity go and giving it to god, Its about implementing daily practices into life to keep the self centeredness at bay and to keep the soul growing, its about letting the soul take over instead of the mind, Its about being able to ask God for help in carrying all of this out and in changing from day to day, and however all of that plays out is God’s business.
    I know that I never want to experience the pain of Heroin/Cocaine/Alcohol addiction myself ever again, so I’m going to continue on with practicing these principles. And Im going to cary that message to others, and carrying that message to others will come first and foremost above my own plans for success and what I only think will make me happy. As a result, life will continue to come to me, I won’t have to chase it, it’s really the best of both worlds.

    Reply
  189. youpeoplearecold February 4, 2014 at 4:39 am

    @Stuart
    I appreciate your attempt to be more eloquent this time and less hurtful I’m your comment. Also, I fully relate and support your feeling that we need to find a way to stop this from happening but you are missing a fundamental point here my friend: its not that simple.

    the multifaceted issue of addiction is complicated for reasons we haven’t even touched on in this thread. Sure, a persons morality and degree of selfishness comes into question (apparently more than other things) but are you really suggested that you see this as a simple choice to stop? Have you ever thought about the very definition of addiction?
    I’m not being philosophical or moral here, I’m stating a fact: wrong or right, we addicts (if we are truly mentally addicted to a substance) cannot just choose to stop. If I could express the number of reasons I have for stopping and the number of times I’ve tried and the number of times I’ve gotten high without even wanting to, you would possibly have a glimpse into the irrationality of addiction.
    Please be safe people, I’m not going to bring up the debate if harm reduction but those of you who’ve been where I am hopefully already know. <3
    At the risk of being further insulted by the ignorant people on this forum, I can say from direct experience that even I myself and my psychiatrists alike have not found an answer to why I still use.

    what you possibly fail to understand is that pity and empathy are two VERY different things. I would never state as others have that Addiction is like cancer, and am repelled by the idea of everyone feeling sorry for the poor heroin addict that I am but I am a human being who has love and compassion and hope. I am a human being who takes my family and friends seriously and if I could stop for them I would in a heartbeat. But I am a human being with this burden as my primary struggle. If you want to label me and millions of others as

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  192. youpeoplearecold February 4, 2014 at 4:50 am

    …a ‘selfish’ addict go ahead. But please know that very same mentality of judgment and stigma is contributing to the number of people who are using in shame, alone and dying as a result. I hope nobody is going to pick apart what I’m saying and misconstrue it because ultimately I believe that accountability falls on the addict themself. But if anyone out there has been through the rollercoaster I have, they know that guilt and shame perpetuate feelings of hopelessness and apathy and don’t ever succeed in compelling me to stop.

    The irony is that those who try to guilt addicts into stopping are contributing only to the addiction itself– which thrives on feelings of self-loathing, guilt, and shame.

    goodnight.

    Reply
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  194. KEL February 4, 2014 at 4:53 am

    wow. There are some very strong opinions written here. This is causing people to have some very strong emotional reactions. Many of which a extremly judgemental. We all have to live our lives the best we can. Some people make choices that aren’t very wise or thoughtful. Most of the time being aware bad results are possible but thinking it won’t happen to me or im stronger than that or even i’m in so much pain anything has to be better than how i feel right now. Yes i’m sure the’ve asked for help or talked about their issues. After a while when you do ask you often see the persons eyes do a little glaze over when you tell your story and you think thats it ive lost them for help. You may badly just need to know there is someone there so you stop asking and”realise” its you, your problem is too much for them. The thing is the problem is too much for many people to hear about or help with. Effective counseling is hard to come by money or not. Most people try and help based on how they experience the world not how you experience it. Whatever your struggle its hard and none of us are perfect. We are all doing the best we can ‘mostly’, with what we’ve got. If there was one perfect fullproof answer then yes it would be easy and justified to judge , but sadly that just doesn’t exist.

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  195. Shakti G February 4, 2014 at 5:05 am

    Wow this is a fantastically good discussion on addiction – i thank humbly the legacy of all those that have fallen to the disease that this may bring more awareness – i am in recovery 11 years sober and i love what Steve S had to say – Scroll back up peeps –
    it may or may not be appropos to say but what i like the most about this discussion here is that, PSH was not out there partying like the idiot lindsay lohans of the world or justin beibers flaunting their addictions or soon to be addictions – he was indeed silently in the throws of is own private hell, which i can relate to in active addiction AND recovery and no amount of tough love or love sometimes even sober can ameliorate any of that – the disease is on going with or without the substance and it is an illness that needs more awareness of the underlying issues – and for this to be made public – over and over again i hear from people that never knew me as a drunk or addict – surely you must be ok now – surely you can have a drink etc etc – surely you had it wrong and you aren’t an alcoholic at all – blah blah blah and the health and wellness girls who have had a bit of a drink and all need hallelujahs for giving up their little drinks –
    the awareness of addiction and how it really IS needs more attention and this sort of discussion if it goes viral is in my humble opinion great for that – no glamour no rah rah – some real honesty in a public forum
    please don’t shoot the messenger people!
    big peaceful and love filled blessings to the families of all addicts who have passed and in active addiction and blessings to the souls struggling each day may they find peace and sobriety …

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  197. ESC February 4, 2014 at 5:18 am

    Thafunctioor this, it is an issue I argue with people everyday on. I lost my husband one year ago to heroin. He was found the exact same way as Mr..Hoffman and we have 3 young chikdren the same ages as he. My daughters and I are completely lost without him. He was a heroin addict yet held a union job for 20 years. We had a house and a car. He helped coach the girls softball games and he was on one as well. From the outside we seemed a happy little family but inside he was battling the fight that he eventuslly lost. He became addicted to pain medication perscribed to him by a doctor after a broken hand when wecabout 20. The doctor gave him 60 – 20mg percocets for a broken hand. Within a week he was hooked. He felt on top of the world while taking them. He had energy to do more with me and felt better at his job. Eventually they ran out and he went through his first bout of with draw. We had no idea what it was and called the doctor. The doctor said he would need to wean off of them.and perscribed yet another 60 day supply of 20 mg Percocets. This happened two more times….for a broken hand! By now he couldn’t stop. It took over his life. It was all he wanted, all he could think about was the fear of withdraw and the inability to do his job that he could no longer do without the pills. He started calling different doctors and making up different pains to go to the er. He eventually called his dad who as a veteran of war had substantial injuries and always had pain medicine. But instead of being a father and helping his son get help he handed him a needle, gave him hep c in the meantime and took my husband, best friend and soul mate from me. He says “here, try this…so much cheaper!” From that point on the next 15 years were a battle that I don’t know how I got tgrough. He got clean for about 6 years a few years later and in that time we married, had 3 daughters and bought our first home. About a year after we bought our home he found out about the hep c and also was laid off from his job. This was too much for him to handle and he picked up again. That was 5 years ago and in those 5 years we lost our home, both csrs, have had to move our daughters 6 different places and on jan 24 2013 found him dead on the bathroom floor syringke in arm, 4 bags used, 5 bsgd still in his pocket. I am now alone with my 10, 9 and 6 year old girls who are completely devastated. We miss him terribky and once again wec Ares losing everything. I was a stay at home mom and now don’t even know where to begin.
    So to say it is selfish is both true and not true. Selfish comes in when you have clean time ot sobriety. You have s clear choice to pick up sgain however an actively using addict has to use to function. They added no longer seeking a high, they are seeking normalcy.
    I don’t know what to do now, I heartbroken beyond words and will be losing everything soon. My daughters Ares hurting so much and as a mother that is the most painful thing to ever endure. Seeing your children suffer snd not being able to help thrm.
    Thanks you for this article.
    ESC

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  199. Mame February 4, 2014 at 5:37 am

    Lets not even talk about celebrities. When I think about my own generation, all the Vets coming back from the VietNam war with PTSD that wasn’t even in the medical books then, and what they went through mentally, this bull about judgement of others really ticks me off. My generation has had a hard history of addiction. Even now, with so many stresses on Iraq era Vets coming home, even in this economy on regular people living day to day, what brings a person to the brink of addiction isn’t a casual choice to party. By the harsh comments here you would think one just sat down and made a well-thought out, logical choice to become a raging, life-altering addict. After all, who wouldn’t want to spend all their time searching for funds for booze, drugs, ways to lose their loved ones, their jobs, homes, all they have? Who in their right mind wouldn’t choose that? THAT’S THE POINT! Nobody would! It’s not a day trip to addiction, it’s a journey of struggle. And you become a real pain-in-the-ass to everyone. I mean, the love is still there, but the like goes away. And where does the help come from? If you’re a Vet it’s pounded into you if you ask for help you’re weak and it could affect your career, and a regular person might not have healthcare or it could also affect their career. And it takes tiiiiimme to get well. Not every place, no matter what the law says, will hold your job. And it takes money. This country does two things not well – stop drugs and mental healthcare. We have failed horribly at both. My family member literally ruled the roost with his addiction. For decades there has been not much change in options, except his drinking was much more acceptable in the “Mad Men” era. And I get angry, even now that he’s gone, over things that happened since I was a kid. But as I read the comments that are so judgemental, so harsh, I find myself becoming very defensive about my Dad. Because I saw the misery, the shame in his eyes. How he would have had it any other way, this son of an addict, also. He worked every day, but there was that other side. How different it could have been. So, please, be grateful for your non-involvement in this problem. Be happy for your rehab and be proud. But don’t think it was just a playful choice. No way do I see it that.

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  200. Mark February 4, 2014 at 5:41 am

    GwnthFair says addiction is a disease and the DSM classifies it as such for over 30 years. I believe they now classify it as a disorder. Since 2010. Addiction and dependence are classified the same. I disagree with you GF. I feel bad when people overdose and die, but they did not have a disease. If you never start drugging you won’t be an addict. But real diseases, you have no control over. Cancer comes calling randomly. People don’t take cancer.

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  203. Anonymous February 4, 2014 at 6:14 am

    Selfishness, self-centeredness. That, we think, is the root of our troubles. Driven by a hundred forms of fear, self-delusion, self-seeking and self-pity we step on the toes of our fellows and they retaliate. If you truly want to understand the nature of alcoholism and addiction, read alcoholics anonymous. Its short and to the point

    Reply
  204. Robin Martz February 4, 2014 at 6:16 am

    Selfish or no, it’s just a horrible tragedy and to loose someone in this fashion is a living nightmare. My husband was addicted to prescription methadone and he lived a miserable life. He just wanted relief from pain. He was injured on a crab fishing boat out in the middle of the Bering sea, and after surgery that was botched, he was in constant pain. If ONE pill was good, 10 pills were better! He did that with EVERY medicine, but THIS one, killed him. My son worked nights and he came home one day to find his dad dead on the couch in front of the TV. This is a NATIONAL TRAGEDY!!!!!! WE are ALL affected by it, whether or not you think so. MY husband wasn’t selfish. He worked his behind off for years to raise his children and so trying to relieve his pain wasn’t selfish. I have no idea what happened to Phil Hoffman, but I am POSITIVE HE wasn’t being selfish. Wrong word!

    Reply
  205. Doubting Rich February 4, 2014 at 6:19 am

    Utter bilge water. A heroin addiction is purely self-indulgent. Given the circumstances of most people that is also extremely selfish, as it affects those around them. No idea whether this applies to Philip Seymour Hoffman and I don’t care, but this article is ridiculous and perpetuates the stereotypes of addiction that actively harm addicts, as discussed in the article below.

    http://archive.frontpagemag.com/readArticle.aspx?ARTID=3706

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  206. A February 4, 2014 at 6:20 am

    I can’t get behind you 100% on this. While I know first hand addiction digs its claws in until you can’t escape, I also know the guilt doesn’t set in until after its high has worn off. Seeking the “fix” is done purely to escape and cope with whatever pressures life is throwing at you. The only thing you are thinking about is how to make your life better even if only for a moment. After the high wears off and the pain and chaos rush back you realize the weight of your actions and their ripple effect. The is a huge part that is selfish and there is an intense part that is purely the force of addiction. It’s a both and. I also cringe at your categorization of porn as a “lucky” addiction. SA is degenerative and just as devastating to an individual and their family. Its grip is just a violent and its effects are just as painful. Different addiction, same root. Each addict is simply trying to cope with a life they feel they can’t handle and are burried under the weight of its shame.

    Reply
  207. Janet Elizabeth February 4, 2014 at 6:30 am

    In all your fighting about is it selfish or not, is it a disease or not, I see nothing mentioned about the fact that he was 23 years sober. He fell off the wagon in 2012 and 4 years later he is dead. We, the general public, have lost an amazing actor who entertained us all. His wife and children have lost someone they loved dearly, and had some wonderful time with and ultimately, had to watch him fall back into his hellish need/want to expel whatever pain he thought he was feeling by self medicating with the only thing he felt stopped the pain.

    In my thoughts, it is selfish to try drugs, but until you do you don’t know if you will become addicted (not everyone is, though I’m told heroin is a hard one even for those who do not have addictive physiologies). You think “Hey, this might be fun…someone told me it’s great to do ______ to you and I want to see if it works.” or some such thought pattern. The disease part is that your body becomes your enemy. Your body/brain chemistry suddenly craves that drug and you are hooked. My understanding of addiction with some drugs (not all apparently) is that the more you want the more you take and it becomes this vicious cycle that is terribly hard to break. And before you know it you don’t know if you need it or want it. All you know is that when you don’t have it, you feel worse than ever before.

    Perhaps Mr. Hoffman had some hidden mental demons, or some sort of mental illness that he needed help coping with. Perhaps he was undiagnosed. My brother has had undiagnosed mental illness for years and self medicated with that lovely combo of weed and booze, which made him even more irrational. He is currently in treatment and seems to be doing well. Does it excuse his bad behaviour? Nope. But it does explain it.

    All that being said, I enjoyed Mr. Hoffman’s work and felt he was a brilliant voice, much like Heath Ledger and River Phoenix, both of whom died from drug related deaths and had bright acting futures. I am sad he felt the need to take drugs and that he turned out to be an addict. I am further saddened that it killed him in the end.

    That’s really all I have to say.

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  209. Clyde February 4, 2014 at 7:25 am

    I’m an alcoholic. Is it my fault when I drink, all my pain goes away and I feel serene, young, and happy again? Seymour knew what he was doing and he certainly knew it was dangerous, but sometimes dangerous things feels good. Feels normal. Better than dealing with pain and the bullshit with this world of being sober like a piano chord, I drink to embrace and loosen my ego which is often anxious at time. Seymore probably slams to feel alone enough to hear after with all the celebrity bullshit that muddles around his view… he slammed to feel normal.

    Some people OD and some people don’t. But is it selfish? No way. Not if I can’t help it, its a problem that we DON’T want to live without. That’s the part addiction that we openly face because there’s truly no other choice… this shit feeeeeels exactly the way I want to live my life. Despite the shortened life-span, I feel as healthy as I’m drinking a smoothie mix.

    Seymour died the way his mind wanted to die. That’s for sure, heroin’s the way to go after reading your stupid comments and i wouldnt bet Seymour would want to come back to prove himself wrong. In fact, I’d go the same way. Better to enjoy oneself than to work for your bullshit satisfaction that doesn’t even matter in the end, too.

    Reply
    • Mags February 4, 2014 at 8:12 am

      What does a heroine pay per week to support their habit. Oops I just said habit. Get real everyone, it all comes down to choice. You make that first choice to try it, another one follows etc. selfish you say, selfish you bet. Stop feeling sorry for these addicts. They all know what the road leads to, they make that choice.

      Reply
  210. Sean McCullough February 4, 2014 at 7:54 am

    Empathy is the ability to understand where a person is ‘coming from’. You absolutely can have empathy without experiencing what another has gone through. Do you have understanding when people come to you with their problems? You may never been through what they have but you can still have understanding. I have much empathy for Phillip S. H. and all addicts and alcoholics who have passed or are currently dealing with issues. Avoiding your friends and family, stealing, lying, not calling when you’re not going to come home, etc. Malice may not be a variable but selfishness sure is. Me, Me, Me. That’s not what we addicts/alcoholics say out loud but that’s what our actions say. Don’t let emotion from finding out a great actor and person dying cloud the fact that the actions of an addict do more talking than words ever could.

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  211. April Auger February 4, 2014 at 7:58 am

    In recovery for over 20 years I must disagree with the selfish part of addiction. Those of us in or that have been in it’s hold, don’t give a crap about anyone of anything while there. We care afterwords and we often vow not to do it again, but we do it over and over and over. Our favorite saying is” I’m not hurting anyone else” I found that not to be true once I sobered up and talked to my kids and my friends. I hurt them over and over again and left them feeling helpless to do anything. It is Selfish and we don’t care. Only sobriety shows us how much we’ve hurt those that love us. Makes me beyond sick when I see young people from every walk of life start this terrible cycle at such a young age. Just lost a 32 year old to the desease two weeks ago..Addiction is a monster with a smile on it’s face and it’s sitting there in the corner doing push-ups just waiting for us to weaken. For me the only thing that helped was a support group and i”m pround to say I am part of A.A. which saved my life.

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  212. Expat February 4, 2014 at 8:10 am

    It seems people who choose or chose to use drugs have a need to rationalise their bad decision(s) as well as those of other users. I can only agree, like many who’ve already commented, on the need for more empathy. The rest of the article leaves me a bit cold.

    Sorry, Corrigan, but you do not know, just as all of us do not know what Hoffman felt when he put the needle to his arm. Perhaps he thought he would feel a little bit better.

    Dying of an overdose is not the same as having an addiction. It seems the two ideas are mixed up in this writing. Sadly, people die of drug use, with addiction or without. Heroin use is NOT normal. In fact it is ILLEGAL. I am sorry you had the experience of losing your father albeit to the legal abuse of alcohol and other mental challenges. That is painful and sad. I lost a cousin due to a mental illness where she refused to see doctors and had a serious heart condition that went untreated. Yes, she was alone. Yes it was her decision not to seek medical treatment for her condition. Yes, sadly, it was a kind of selfish decision not to trust doctors and not take medicine. The consequence was to end up dying alone in her bed. All actions, as well as many inactions, have consequences. Do I blame her? Kind of! Maybe I would do the same thing but I am sure not going to say that she was unselfish in her choice not to use medicine!

    Everyone is selfish to some degree. However not everyone chooses to take drugs. To me it is lame to pretend that addiction is not selfish. If we say that, let us just go ahead and say in the same breath that human beings are not selfish!

    Reply
  213. Maczech February 4, 2014 at 8:16 am

    Addiction is nothing but Selfish! Im not saying that they are coosing that because they are not. Its the other way around. People who suffer from addiction have lost the abilitie to choose weather they are going to do it or not. However, what they really are addicted to is their selfishness – its the selfisness that is the root of their troubles and then the drugs just comes in as a symptom of that selfishness. So even calling it drugaddiction can be missleading. Because its not the “drug that they really are addicted to”
    I know because I have been an addict for many years and I am now working with people who suffers from the same illness as I was. It is the same for everyone who suffers from the illness.

    It is the selfisness that kills them and then they try to use drugs to fix that problem!

    Reply
  214. Toni Bergen February 4, 2014 at 8:22 am

    I lost a brother to addiction three years ago but I spent my life wishing he could change things. He died alone in a grassy field covered in snow but apparently with no pain just
    laid now and went to sleep according to the medical community. So he is without pain now and I wish for all of you addicts and care providers the hope of change. My brother worked hard to stop everything many times only to return because he said it was the only thing that made him feel normal. It other words his life without drugs was not normal. He caused a lot of pain by his actions (all typical druggie things) but inspite he was loved by many and
    his funeral was really a beautiful thing. It was so touching to see how much good he did in others life to try to fix them because he could not fix himself. The ending was very difficult for me because he was a wonderful person but he always told me to not to feel sorry for
    him. It was his choice and he told me he had a good life and had a lot of fun. Truly sad for everyone who has to experience the bad choices of those we love.

    Reply
  215. Straight line February 4, 2014 at 8:24 am

    Addiction isn’t selfish, addicts are.

    Reply
  216. Ryan Dennis February 4, 2014 at 8:42 am

    Both of my parents were addicted to separate vices. My “dad” to Heroin and “mom” to alcohol. I have a younger sister and she and I both vividly recall cutting a large hole in the bottom of my mattress so we could sit up straight while our parents stuck themselves and drank. I cried to both of them repeatedly saying that they were, “Scary” and my sister said they were, “Monsters”. When I got older I tried to get them help. I tried giving them flyers for sessions, called addiction hotlines when they were in the middle of their “sessions”, and finally when I was 17 and had enough I called the police. Both of my parents were taken away in cuffs and were yelling at me calling me a “backstabber” and saying I was “F*cking Selfish.” How was I the selfish one when they were the ones that started this in the first place. It is no secret Heroin is bad for you. My mom’s family was addicted to alcohol, how could she possibly think it was okay to treat her children the way she treated us. So to me addicts are selfish. They chose to start which is selfish. Even when they come off there high or their low they refuse to get help because it is, “embarrassing” even if they have children that are clearly effected by if. That is selfish.

    Reply
  217. leftbehind February 4, 2014 at 8:43 am

    I am so sick and tired of people saying you can’t understand addiction unless you’ve been through it. that is a load of bs. I am the oldest child in my family, both parents and stepfather were addicts, the cycle continued with my 2 younger sisters. I was given away, abused, neglected and even sold. All because of my family’s addiction. by the time i was 18, my mom was in a coma from an overdose of benzos and my little sisters were given to me by the state. I was loyal to a fault, and fought as hard as i could to help my family. I was the sole supporter of 2 grown adults and they kids they chose to bring into this world. I stayed up countless nights, worried sick about their whereabouts. I found myself calling dealers, showing up at crack houses even traveling to another state by myself, to rescue my sister from a pimp that she had chosen to go with. I have had everything of value stolen, and so have my children. i sat through meetings with each of them to show support. when they would get sick of hearing my mouth, they would agree to detox, tears in their eyes, crying about how badly they wanted to stop and needed help. I have spent countless hours calling detoxes and halfway houses, transporting my family to these places. They could be in a 7 day detox or a 6 month program, yet they never stayed sober. I would estimate that my state has spent over a million dollars on treatment for my family members. They would get out, go to therapy and complain about “anxiety”, mood swings, restlessness, all because they knew they would be prescribed benzos. of course they would argue to me about how they needed those meds, and it was okay because the doc said so. it wouldn’t be long before they were back to their shenanigans. eventually i kicked them all out, they took everything from me. My soul was torn. I was living the daily life of an addict, only i didn’t have the luxury of escaping reality with drugs like they did. within 1 year of my family being out of my house, they were ALL dead. that’s right, all of them. I struggled with guilt for a long time, i felt like they were dead because of me. But nowadays my life is lovely, and even though i loved my family immensely, i am happy to be free of their burden. My point is, nothing will change an addict. They will change if and when they choose to. drug addiction is the most selfish act there is, and we need to stop pitying these people. they need to be held accountable for their actions.

    Reply
  218. Almsot Done February 4, 2014 at 8:48 am

    I’ve been clean and sober for 20+ years.
    I agree with everything in this article. And .. .. and..
    I had a Death wish..
    I wasn’t being “selfish” when I used.. I was trying to prove I was as worthless as I’d been Taught I was.. and I was Trying to remove myself from my family because I felt like I was the problem.

    The # 1 gateway to drug abuse is Child abuse.

    Anyway .. lots of JUDGES in this forum .. and Not much wonder many of us DIE without receiving help. We already KNOW how g.d. low we are.. some of you who have NO CLUE are Bullies who do NOTHING to help and Everything to drive us to that next escape from this horrid g.d. world.

    If I could choose Any species .. I would NOT choose human.

    RIP Phil.. RIP ..

    To anyone who is struggling with addiction .. PLEASE > Get into a Recovery Group > Join a group of people who KNOW what you are going through .. IGNORE the ignorant Judges who dont’ have a friggin clue how HARMFUL they are.

    Sad world.

    Reply
  219. Wesley Hixson February 4, 2014 at 8:59 am

    Reply
    • Mkang February 4, 2014 at 9:07 am

      That was beautiful Wesley – made ME cry and for the others that don’t cry, I feel sorry for you.
      Thanks for posting that video. Very powerful.

      Reply
  220. Matthew H February 4, 2014 at 9:42 am

    Few people realize that there is a tremendous difference between those who abuse party drugs like coke and those who abuse opiates. I am the son of two heroin addict parents. Both died byway of their addiction. Both suffered deep emotional pain and as some may know, there is no better escape from the pain in ones heart and mind than the opiates. My mother suffered from depression and a life of emotional and physical abuse and my dad came home from Vietnam like far too many vets did. Broken, hating himself and addicted to drugs. The connection between this addiction and conditions like bi-polar disorder, BPD and PTSD is undeniable. There are people among us who are deep in the throws of incapacitating sadness and depression – some are only able to pop their heads above the waterline occasionally, if at all. Heroin, often times, is far from a selfish addiction, it is a way for some to escape the pain they endure daily – even if just for a moment – all the while becoming entirely disconnected from the reality which is that they are only accelerating their demise. Heroin addiction is a complex tragedy for those who suffer from it. In my opinion there is nothing selfish of wanting to escape crippling emotional pain, sadly for too many that amazing feat is impossible in the absence of drugs like heroin. There has been so many comments online which lack even a trace of empathy on the topic of his passing. We can only hope that those people are spared the agony which is having a loved one who is addicted to heroin.

    Reply
  221. Peter Landsheft February 4, 2014 at 10:05 am

    I have been clean and sober for a little over 20 years. When I hear about these stories, I can’t help but feel compassion for the family. All I really can do is share my experience strength and hope. My experience is my life was all about me and my addiction. Not caring who I hurt or offended in the process of getting my next fix. Whether it was booze of what ever I could get my hands on. The route of my troubles is selfishness and self centeredness. It’s the route of my troubles. It’s selfish for him not to think of his kids growing up without there father. Whether you agree or not. This was a total selfish act. He was a great actor! He fooled himself! I haved lived it. The fact of the matter is. He died as a result of his actions. He could have lived happy joyous and free. It works if you work it. It means you give 100% of your life to help others.

    Reply
  222. Maczech February 4, 2014 at 10:06 am

    If anyone here needs help with addiction. Please feel free to contact me at martin.norlin1@gmail.com.

    Just FYI.

    Reply
  223. CapitalB February 4, 2014 at 10:08 am

    The very fact that everyone is arguing whether “addiction” is a disease or not is hysterical. “Addiction” has already been put on the list by the CDC as an actual, life threatening, incurable, progressive, and deadly DISEASE. So those of you who do not believe that addiction is a disease, you now know more than scientists and doctors from around the world that specialize in addiction, and have years and years of study under their belt, that have witnessed, tested, probed, prodded, and unveiled every small fiber and layer of what this complicated and convoluted disease consists of? Oh? Okay. Just checking. Now back to what you were doing.

    Reply
  224. Kevin Kirby February 4, 2014 at 10:15 am

    How wonderful it is to read a heartfelt and accurate description of how the dreadful disease of addiction has taken yet another victim. And yet, your piece has already generated a lot of buzz from many who are misinformed. I wouldn’t worry too much about that. The science is clear. Drug and alcohol addiction is a disease. Consuming one’s substance of choice eventually becomes a lonely, dark necessity for survival. Your piece is a shining breath of fresh air in a media world filled with misinformation. Nice work.

    Reply
  225. Pingback: sick days and links » The Path Less Taken

  226. DuchessofNYC February 4, 2014 at 10:31 am

    No, I think buying 70 bags of dope and holing yourself up in an apt. and forgetting to pick up yr kids is selfish. Heroin addiciton is a form of narcissism, as is depression. Yes you can call them “diseases” and yes they challenge us to the depths of our soul, but there is always choice. A long time ago, when I was suicidal, someone told me that killing yourself is one of the most selfish things you can do, because it hurts everyone around you. Hearing that saved my life, because it brought me out of that tightly wound nautilus shell of despair and made me see that my actions and beliefs had consequence. This addiction is a disease and I’m helpless unless there are trained experts to help me is b.s. Sorry. Saying this as someone who’s been to plenty of dark places in her life and who had junkies cold turkey detox in my apt. Now that nearly killed me… but we did it. Really sad for loss of a great talent, but now his kids have to grow up without the love of their father. How f’n sad is that?

    Reply
  227. JLA February 4, 2014 at 10:39 am

    This guy was funny and no disrespect to him or his family but after reading this. I have to say something about it because i am sick of people enabling addicts by telling them it’s not their fault, bullshit they choose to do what they did knowing full well what might happen. It really depends on how you look at it, as sad as it is for the addict i feel sorry for the people that have to deal with them like the children or how about the unborn fetus that has drugs and alcohol running through them because of the SELFISH actions of their mother? Yes there is alot of selfishness in addicts its about them feeling good no matter what the cost. Living in the past and blaming everyone but themselves for it. Someone needs to come along that cares enough for them to smack the shit out of them until they get it. Ever hear of tough love, no i didn’t think so not many people do these days. You would rather be nice about it so you don’t hurt their feelings, How’s that workin out for ya????? JLA

    Reply
  228. Joe February 4, 2014 at 10:39 am

    It takes strength to overcome addiction, temptation, compulsion. It takes strength to take back your life, to accept it and confront your pain, to see a bigger picture and to rise above rather than run away and escape chemically. Finding strength in that moment becomes more difficult the further down the slope of addiction you go.

    Is it selfish when you give in to weakness? To justify it once again, to ignore your inner voice and those around you. Ultimately maybe it depends on your character and your ability to overcome the challenge? Every situation is different, but I believe that every time you choose to run away from the pain in your life, it is a selfish act that slowly takes you over, becoming easier to give in to, each time you make that choice. It becomes a disease, one that some are more predisposed towards than others. But it is unique in that ultimately this disease can only be cured by the inner strength of the addict themselves.

    Reply
  229. Daniel February 4, 2014 at 10:46 am

    Recovering myself. It is selfish. I’m sorry, but it is. What we are doing by saying that it is disease is ignoring the fact that it is a disease that is a direct result of continued, selfish choice. I chose to use even though I knew the risks, even though I knew it hurt those around me, even though I knew it was addictive. I chose because I liked the way it made me feel. Yes, addiction is a disease, but like other diseases, it’s completely preventable if you are not engaging in selfish risky behavior. While we do need to recognize the serious of addiction and what it does to the brain, we must also recognize that those who are addicts are still responsible for that addiction. Addiction didn’t choose me or people like PSH, we chose it.

    Reply
  230. leftbehind February 4, 2014 at 10:48 am

    The DSM classifies pedophelia as a mental disorder. These people may be genetically predisposed, have hormone imbalances, or have had significant childhood trauma. They are attracted to children, it is a compulsion. if they act on their compulsion, they must face the consequences. No one empathizes, or pities these people. we regard them as monsters. but why? according to the logic on drug addiction, we should be supportive and empathize with them. there is no difference in my eyes, yet nobody runs to defend these people. ironic when you consider the fact that children of addicts are just as scarred as children that have been molested. and before you throw opinions at me, i have been affected by both of these things in my life. As a child, they were equally as damaging.

    Reply
  231. Lina February 4, 2014 at 10:54 am

    Addiction is not selfish! The drugs make us do selfish things! Nobody wants to live that destructive way…

    Reply
  232. ILL WILL February 4, 2014 at 10:55 am

    Do some of you really believe Phil was selfish for being addicted to a drug? First off, we dont even know him personally so all of you and the press’s comments are irrelevant. Take a look at yourself first. yes, heroine is very addicting and destroys your mind and body very quickly. but whether its doing drugs, checking your facebook, sex, running, smoking, we all have routines we go through everyday. you have to understand, psychologically, our habits or “addictions” become part of our lives. its about finding “healthy habits” because we ALL have “addictions”.

    If you are an addict remember…one huge mistake people make in their lives is labeling themselves. Labeling yourself in any way only limits your full potential.

    Reply
  233. Daria February 4, 2014 at 11:06 am

    Philip may or may not have known there was a solution, as I do now. Many of us alcoholics and addicts have found a solution in AA, in spirituality, in a number of places, things….

    If he knew there was a solution and chose to stick the needle in his arm instead of head to a meeting- yes. He was selfish.

    He was beautiful, brilliant, inspiring, worthy, loving..and yet, still selfish.

    Just because we are selfish as addicts does not mean we do not want more, do not want better…. you use selfish as the antithesis of good- and it really isn’t in the case of the addict/alcoholic.

    Active alcoholism/addiction is a selfish state. And only when we’ve allowed ourselves the help we need, can we exit out of it.

    But jesus, who cares if he was selfish? Alcoholism is devastating NO MATTER WHAT. And we can hurt for those who have been selfish. We can hurt for those who have destroyed us.

    Feeling bad for an alcoholic is probably the worst thing you can do for him.

    Tell him you love him, but to get off the damn floor, get to an AA meeting, and help someone else.

    It’s what has kept me sober for 3 years.

    Enough with the enabling pity.

    Reply
  234. Widow of a Alcoholic February 4, 2014 at 11:36 am

    This made me think…and I hope it makes others think has well. That being said I am going to offer my two cents. Addiction can be selfish, and those of us caught in the fall out of this disease know it first hand. I will share some of my story. My husband and I went to high school together. Back then I thought he was a dork and was never interested in him. Fast forward a few years, we meet again. only this time he was no longer a dork! He was someone who made me laugh and feel like I was the most beautiful girl he had ever met. Has for me….one look into his blue eyes and I was hooked. 22 and a half years together, a lot of good years, and some that where a living nightmare. My husband crawled into a bottle and refused to come out. No matter how much I begged and pleaded, booze had become his everything, not me, not our girls, booze was all he cared about. I heard all the excuses and promises to quit. I even got him in treatment once, but I can’t even claim it was to sober up for himself or us. He got a DUI and knew being in treatment would look good with the judge. I drove him to AA meetings, 3 times a day, praying each day that one of the people speaking would make him see the damage he was doing. Doctors told him to stop drinking, his family pleaded, I begged and our daughters cried, to no avail. Well just over a year ago, he stopped. I watched him die, do I believe addicts are selfish, yes. For years my husband’s addiction controlled our family and we all let it happen, not just him. Looking back I have realized that instead of walking a tightrope, I should have gotten selfish myself……maybe, maybe it would have made a difference, oh not for him, but for me. The addicts see the addiction from their point of view and their families see it from another. The addict is selfish, but so is their families. We are also jealous of what ever it is that is taking our loved one from us. To those who have beat addiction, keep fighting the good fight. To those still struggling to join to battle, you can do it! Your family and loved ones believe in you, now just believe in yourself.

    Reply
  235. piksie February 4, 2014 at 11:48 am

    Don’t you think everyone’s addiction is different? Sometimes it’s totally selfish, sometimes it’s not. Most of them are probably somewhere in between. At some point the addict decided to try a substance they could get addicted to. That act alone is selfish.

    Reply
  236. Tom February 4, 2014 at 11:49 am

    I went to high school with Phil. The bigger question is, how do we as a society prevent this from happening to our children? What greater good can come from this tragic last performance? What can you recovering addicts or addicts offer to the next generation to prevent it from happening in the first place. Step up, go to the schools and explain to our kids how to stay away from it… Not doing that… Is selfish. We non addicts can not do it… We do not know your path. You have life experience… Share it.

    Thank you

    Tom Garman

    Reply
  237. Ray February 4, 2014 at 11:56 am

    All of these article are complete BS mostly written by kids who have never went through this. Addiction to drugs especially drugs like Heroin is the MOST selfish thing you can do and it is 100% a choice. – Been there lost everything, clean for 8 years.

    Reply
  238. Vicky February 4, 2014 at 12:10 pm

    Corrigan Vaughan . . . this is an amazing piece of work!!! As an individual that owns that Bipolar disease and wears it proudly so that it doesn’t control me, I do appreciate your words!!!!

    Reply
  239. Mindful February 4, 2014 at 12:11 pm

    Please, people. However you want to classify addiction, and regale the trials of misery as, please stop equating it with cancer.

    Reply
  240. Laura February 4, 2014 at 12:13 pm

    I understand the point, but you’re wrong…it’s sympathy…you can’t empathize with someone, if you have not been there.

    Reply
  241. Julie February 4, 2014 at 12:34 pm

    Thank you for sharing this piece.

    I am writing this response from the other perspective as a person who is actively involved in Alanon 12-step meetings and has lived with a heroin addict. Here is my philosophy on addiction, take it or leave it, it’s up to you. You have choices in life; choices that will change the outcome/path of your life. No one forces you to take your first hit of heroin: NO ONE! Education and drug prevention are taught for a reason. I know people say addiction is addiction—and I don’t want to argue with that. I understand how the addict’s brain works—but here is what I don’t understand: if you *know* the statistic rates are greater of people dying of a heroin overdose, then you why would you ever try it? Why make the attempt to move forward and put your life in harm’s way. We all struggle with different issues (this is true)—from eating disorders to other habits. BUT it will take a lot longer for an eating disorder to kill us than injecting yourself with heroin. And eating disorder can be treated much more easily than heroin addiction. These are the facts.

    Yes, I am do have empathy for addicts. But I also have more empathy for the parents/family/loved ones of an addict. The family pays for the consequences; the family is hurt; the family prays and has to create boundaries, find solace, changes their life style to accommodate the addict. It’s the most selfish, cunning, baffling disease. So my advice to you—and anyone out there is to REALLY think about what you’re doing before you do it. Put time, effort, and acknowledge that your actions have consequences—DEATH is at stake. THINK before you do. THINK. THINK. THINK. THINK. Think of your family—think of everyone you are affecting. You are in charge of your destiny.

    Reply
  242. Pingback: Guiltless | One Mom Talking: the ongoing story of one parent, three teens, and heroin

  243. SPB February 4, 2014 at 1:10 pm

    On the continuum of selfish to selfless, one would have to conclude that using is “selfish”. But all people in pain are selfish and that is a biological imperative. If you bang your shin the whole world is about your leg for the moment. People who use are in pain. If we use the word “selfish” to understand the torment of addiction and the original traumas that drive addiction there is no problem. If we use the word “selfish” to condemn, to blame, to make a person who already feels more outcast, then it is we who are being selfish. Honestly, most of the world and the people in it operate from a pretty selfish place to begin with so unless you are a fully realized being you have no right to cast stones, but instead offer a hand up. (And realized beings don’t cast any stones.)

    Reply
  244. Ashley Jo February 4, 2014 at 1:36 pm

    Dying of an overdose starts with you making a CHOICE to start the drug, which is selfish. I don’t know of any disease that has the symptoms of lying, stealing, destroying yourself and everyone around you. EVERYONE knows what happens when you start heroin and have no self control, so the idea of this being selfish is totally true. You are only thinking about yourself and what will make you feel good at that moment, not caring about how it will affect others. There are options for people who can’t kick the habit – free options too. If you and others see there is a problem, there is no reason to still be on the drug unless you are a selfish person who doesn’t care.

    Reply
  245. Big Chuck February 4, 2014 at 1:42 pm

    As a recovering heroin addict, I believe that an addict is selfish in some ways and of course it also hurts them when they’re doped up. My certain addiction evolved from prescription drugs to heroin. I’ve never used a needle, I always put it up my nose (not like that makes anything safer or better). I knew if I graduated to a needle, I would single handedly put my family out of a home! My wife still doesn’t know that I had a $70 a day habit for just over a year. I have broken down in tears a hundred times to my friend who is battling the same addiction. How bad are we screwing our wives and kids?! We’re spending this money and falling behind on bills, getting foreclosure letters from attorneys. The only thing that made me build the will to quit was losing my job (downsizing not performance) and spending almost 4 weeks with my 3 year old son and 2 year old daughter……after 3 days if being with them I broke down and told myself I need to stop! I’m not in my twenties, I don’t party and I’m consistently drowning my family for MY OWN BENEFIT! After about 8 months of being on heroin, it wasn’t about getting high anymore it was about making my body not feel like crap going through withdrawals. 3 days of suboxones and then nothing and I am a month and a half clean! For me, the key was convincing myself of all the things I am depriving my family of again, for my own benefit which turned out to be $70 to not feel like $h!t. It’s not easy, but once I convinced myself that things will be better once I quit, I found it easy to let go. Things have changed for the better. I have a new (and better) job which is much more supportive to my success and I’ve been able to spend ample time with my wife and kids. Just have faith in your abilities and realize that your addiction is helping no one!…….not even you! Realize the potential that you are holding back and you will realize that you can rise above and beyond!

    Reply
  246. Candy Nolan February 4, 2014 at 1:45 pm

    In a way, both arguments are right. A person becomes an addict because of a choice to use drugs to begin with but only certain people have a tolerance that is high enough for them to become addicted in the first place. Not everyone can do enough of a drug to get addicted, it doesn’t work that way. A person has to be genetically predisposed. Drugs mess with the brains pleasure center, which is what tells you to eat, sleep and have sex. It tells the rest of your brain “this is good, we need to remember this and do it again” the more addicted you become, the more your brain makes your drug a priority and soon it becomes more important than basic needs. The addiction “hijacks” your brain, that is when it becomes a disease, when you can no longer choose if you will do the drug or not. So yes, it appears very selfish. Would you think someone who was starving is selfish for stealing some food? That’s what an addicts brain equates it to. A need MORE important than food. Addiction is a disease. If you watch “pleasure unwoven” it explains it in detail including the definition of a disease and why addiction has been classified as one. When it comes right down to it, almost everyone is affected by addiction in one way or another, so it makes sense to take the stigma away so that people get the help they need to recover. Addiction is a fatal, progressive disease and it’s fine and dandy to think all addicts should go commit suicide but if it was your own child, I’m assuming that isn’t what you would want. Is it? For all of you that are fighting the fight, keep doing the next right thing! It’s none of our business what others think! Chances are they just don’t know any better, that’s why it’s important for those who do know, to educate those that don’t!!! <3

    Reply
  247. Richerich February 4, 2014 at 1:52 pm

    From someone who has “made it through to the other side” from Drinking at a very early age to extreme drug abuse , I was very selfish for years, I didn’t care what anyone thought, I was having a good time and you could just get out of my way , and leave me alone, never had a single thought about how or what others felt or cared……Oh it did get bad, later much later, it was poor me , poor me because “i” was no longer having fun, then it did get suicidal and lonely, scared to leave a room for days or weeks at a time, all while there was a loving family all around me. All my selfish choices and extremely self centered behavior , did have it’s consequences. So it is horrible when anyone dies a needless and tragic death, 5-10-15-20 years of selfishness and bad choices can not be ignored !

    Reply
  248. LuckyLolo February 4, 2014 at 1:56 pm

    Addiction is born out of a need to mask deep emotional pain. It’s Horrific pain, and it’s so much easier to pick up the quick fix rather than do the hard work to recover. All the doctors and books and people can call it a disease, but from my perspective, it’s really a quick fix method of self-care. In lieu of more effective solutions to emotional pain.

    Just because the doctors put it in a book, doesn’t necessarily make it a true disease. For years we were told the solution to mental illness was electro-shock therapy. That worked out great. I don’t mean to sound jaded, but I suspect the sentiment is more for financial gain on the part of insurances and psychiatrists. If it wasn’t in that book, I’m fairly certain my insurance wouldn’t cover the therapy. We have to stop being so readily spoon-fed information from “scientists” and start questioning what is really true, for each individual. It’s not a one size fits all affliction. Which, coincidentally, I believe is true for cancer as well.

    However, I choose not to compare it with cancer really. You can be dragged kicking and screaming to chemo treatments and recover from cancer. You can have a life that is totally cancer free. Free of triggers and free of behavioral consequences. You don’t have to worry about running into the guy on the city bus that is selling cancer. I think there is a big difference. Maybe we shouldn’t insult addicts by comparing it to cancer.

    You want to call it a disease? Ok. Like some sort of mental issue? I can go with that. Addiction as a condition of the brain? Maybe. Does it really matter? Do we think that is some sort of band-aid for the family? It seems that way to me.

    How about we stop worrying about whether or not it’s a choice or a disease for the addict and start worrying about the fact that this was not a choice for an addict’s family? He wasn’t selfish? Okay. Maybe it wasn’t selfish in his mentally diseased mind. But it doesn’t matter anymore. What matters are the people left behind to pick up the mess. Nobody seems to give two hoots about the people in the wake of any addicts behavior. You can debate diseases/choices all you want… that is of little comfort to his family now. This is what is really at the horrendous core of addiction. The way it effects OTHERS, without their consent, without choice and without warning. But by all means, lets keep focusing on the addict.

    Whether or not it’s a disease or a choice shouldn’t matter to us not privy to addict circles. The truth is, for those of us outside of addiction, all we need to know is that we cannot fix it for them. We can love them… and we do. We can beg them… and we do… and we can give them excuses… and we do. But the fact remains that we, the family, cannot fix it or treat it or love it out of them. Only THEY can get sober. So is it a disease? Or is it a choice? Was he selfish? Do we need to get the violins for this poor tortured sole? Or was he just plain bored with his over-the-top life? I don’t really know. It’s of no comfort to me anyway, one way or the other.

    Focus off the addict please. Whether you believe it’s by choice or chance, they can only help themselves. We cannot save them. That isn’t meant to be glib or righteous. It’s meant to relinquish the control I thought I had over my addict. The control I never had to begin with.

    Our best chance at beating addiction will come at the hand of helping and educating the people around the addicts. Helping them to make better choices so that their lives don’t have to be tainted with this… “disease”. Better programs for the collaterally damaged ones. I’m not writing addicts off… I’m writing off my control of their recovery. The labels, the names, the anger… who cares? We can only save ourselves from this. And with the focus constantly on the addict, it leaves so little room for the truly recoverable.

    Reply
  249. Carmen February 4, 2014 at 1:57 pm

    Being concerned with one’s own personal profit or pleasure is selfish. The nucleus accumbens in the brain is the center piece of the reward pathway. When someone uses drugs it activates the neurotransmitter dopamine which is released into the nucleus accumbens and produces pleasure. So by definition taking drugs is selfish.

    BUT!…

    As drug use increases, the brain’s ability to produce dopamine in the reward system is reduced, but the users need persists. Addicts require higher doses and a quicker passage into the brain. Normal motivation no longer works and users want the drug even when it no longer gives pleasure. This is where addiction has become a habit and conditioned need, almost like the need to eat food. Their brains have physically changed. They are now victims to their own need for pleasure.

    So, yes, seeking pleasure in the brain by using drugs is selfish but so is drinking coffee, running, sex, shopping, etc. Once pleasure seeking is no longer a want and our brain believes it needs drugs for pleasure, then it is no longer selfish. It has become an instinctual craving for life and survival. Except drugs do the opposite, they kill us. Humans are victims of evolution.

    Reply
  250. drj February 4, 2014 at 2:13 pm

    “The alcoholic’s (addicts) problem was his search for unity with the life around him and with the God that made him. And when he found the bottle (drug), it seemed to be the missing ingredient. It seemed to let him live a little bit more comfortably with himself and in the society around him. He had found a chemical unity, and it did a pretty good job for him until it became the problem that only a spriritual answer could solve.” – Dr. Carl Jung to Bill W. RIP Philip

    Reply
  251. Wife of an addict February 4, 2014 at 2:28 pm

    Addiction is SELFISH. My addict says it is the only way he knows how to live. Won’t even consider going for help or trying to quit. Likes things the way they are. And no one will ever convince me otherwise.

    Reply
  252. Pingback: Hoffman, addiction and a 'broken culture' - The Effects Of Smoking

  253. John KEane February 4, 2014 at 2:47 pm

    ESC my heart is broken for you and your family

    Reply
  254. Terri February 4, 2014 at 3:14 pm

    Addiction is always a symptom of something else. Mental illness, anxiety, pain. Instead of judging people or giving up on the ones you love, discover the cause. Treat IT, not the symptom.

    Reply
  255. SoConfused February 4, 2014 at 3:15 pm

    I see so many people say on here that addicts are selfish. Using the word selfish like an abomination. Why do we not understand that someone who is BROKEN is trying so hard to focus on keeping themSELVES out of pain? I have been an addict as well as recovered living with another addict. It’s a vicious, horrible cycle that is excruciating to say the very least. When you are broken and are only conditioned to cope a certain way, because you have not learned the tools to cope otherwise, you cannot be expected to wake up one day straight. It doesn’t work like that. If it did, we would not even be discussing this, I’m sure. I am not excusing addiction at all or trying to make it right, I’m merely trying to shed light that addiction goes deeper than just being “selfish”; is a means to an end…and end to be less broken, in less pain, feeling more whole…however false that sense of wholeness may be. For a person who has been abused/traumatized who has not learned how to cope and feels completely isolated, self medicating often comes into play. It numbs you. Numb feels better than pain. And frankly, you do not give a shit about the consequences in the moment you are in the throes of your anguish, because all you want to do is stop the pain, stop the endless mind chatter, stop the demons. So to all of you who say that addicts are selfish, please consider this: Choosing this over a “normal” life when you have no reference point for “normal” is misguided and frankly terrifying. Expecting an addict to snap their fingers and be not addicted anymore so that it doesn’t hurt YOU anymore is selfish. If you live with an addict, please, do one of two things: Have compassion for them and try to help them. If it encroaches on your personal boundaries, then do the next best thing…be selfish and leave. But please do not be co-dependent and stay, all the while browbeating them for being selfish. Don’t be hypocrite.

    Reply
  256. Matt Vorwald February 4, 2014 at 3:21 pm

    Addiction is not selfish? Yeah… ok. I’m gonna have to throw the bullshit flag on that one. Sure, one can make the scientific argument that as the user engages in behavior X (whether it’s drugs, alcohol, compulsive behavior, etc) one’s dopamine channels are altered and the brain instructs the user to seek more. I suppose one can twist science to declare that addiction, in that sense, is a disease with physical and chemical changes to the body and mind. But it’s a disease in the same sense as one could label me as having a disease if I began gorging on double quarter pounders each day and ballooned up to 400 pounds, then died of a coronary. Poor Matt wasn’t a selfish glutton who killed himself due to his atrocious eating habits. Matt was a victim of a disease. He had to have more cheeburger to fancy his growing appetite. When he didn’t have cheeburger, his brain started thrashing his body and making him feel yucky. One cheeburger wasn’t enough, either, because… you know… cheeburger tolerance, yo. Enough. Addiction is a self-inflicted disease that is chosen. Every day it gets harder to stop the cycle, yes. But every day, it is a CHOICE to continue to be disease ridden.

    Reply
  257. ounceoflogic February 4, 2014 at 3:23 pm

    Self-centered and selfish are not the same thing.

    Congratulations to all who are in recovery.
    Prayers to all who are seeking it.

    Reply
    • Ashley Jo February 4, 2014 at 3:30 pm

      Self centered and selfish are not the same thing, but addicts are both.

      Reply
  258. Powodzenia February 4, 2014 at 3:26 pm

    Because you are a child of an addict, I understand why you would try to show compassion for your father and others in his situation. I believe you are correct that their deaths are not selfish acts. They are the result of a lifetime of struggle with addiction. The selfish part arises in that since the 1960s, at least, we have known how serious drug abuse is. We have suffered with the consequences of alcoholism in our homes and on our roadways. We know too much about drugs and alcohol abuse to even attempt using them; yet, we do, don’t we? That is the selfish act. It is selfish to say, “I’m not going to get hooked,” even when one knows perfectly well that these chemicals are addictive. It is selfish early on not to get help when one realizes what is happening and it’s still not too late. And finally, it is selfish when in a moment of lucidity, one realizes that others are bearing the full weight of the addict’s life because the addict can’t bear it him- or herself, and still, when help is offered, the addict says no. The addicts in my life have died, gotten ill, and become homeless. They have left my door because they say I ask too much of them by asking anything of them; or they perceive I don’t do enough because I do not buy into their manipulative neediness. I understand about mental illness and addictions. I also understand that I have to put the oxygen mask on me first before I can put it on others. Ultimately, it comes down to that first hit. They ignore those they love when they take that first hit while they’re sober. They’re not high. They’re not yet addicted. They have all the same information all the rest of us have, and one would assume the same cognitive abilities as the rest of us. It is then that they are selfish. That is why some people are so hurt and angry. Each of these deaths represent that first moment when someone the addict purports to love is forgotten and ignored in lieu of trying out a drug or alcoholic beverage.

    Reply
  259. ounceoflogic February 4, 2014 at 3:29 pm

    Matt Vornald: Your hamburger comparison is completely invalid, as is your conclusion.
    You are lucky to be a stranger to heroin addiction; hopefully it will stay that way for you.
    Enjoy your good fortune and try not to comment on things you know nothing about.

    Reply
  260. Lauren February 4, 2014 at 3:48 pm

    I think this article was very well written and I could sense a lot of compassion. I am married to an addict. I have been with him ten years throughout his addiction and spurts of sobriety. I see two different people. On one hand, a loving, giving, husband, father, and provider. On the other, a selfish, angry, abusive, miserable, lazy human being. I love him and I hold on for the times that he has some clarity and realizes his faults and what he has done to his family. This article made me open my heart a little bigger as my husband is going through a medical recovery program and I need to be more understanding. But I do agree that it is harder or just as hard on the family members of those addicted. it only becomes hard on the addict when they sober up and have to try and pick up the pieces.

    Reply
  261. anonymous February 4, 2014 at 4:39 pm

    Being a drug addict is absolutely selfish. You don’t care whose life you destroy. You don’t care whose property you sell for drug money. You don’t care about what you destroy in anger when you can’t get your drugs, such as photos or other family memories. You don’t care that your family is beginning to hate you more than they have ever loved you. You don’t care that you get your family kicked out of every apartment you have lived in since all money is spent on drugs. You don’t care that getting your drugs can take hours and risks your loved ones getting arrested.You don’t care thot your loved one becomes a slave to drugs, just like you are, without them ever taking any kind of drugs. You don’t care that you drain ALL THE ENERGY out of someone’s existance and it doesn’t end until you are dead. And then they can finally b r e a t h e. Maybe I’m the one who was selfish.

    Reply
  262. Amanda February 4, 2014 at 4:44 pm

    The hard part in active addiction is picking up pipe and telling yourself to stop over and over again while using or working up a dose and injecting it in a vein as your brain is repetitively staying NOOOO! However, your body is physically and compulsively going through the motions of something that you know is going to make you miserable….
    at one time it was a choice to have fun… but in the end it was to escape the pain of the wreckage and damage that I had created all around me. I didn’t want to feel the guilt or shame.. so I medicated myself in anyway possible…
    Luckily to day I have over 3 years clean and for the first time in my life I know I’m not a bad person (as a 4 year old I remember thinking there was something wrong with me and that I wasn’t like anyone else, as a 10 year old I thought that I could use boys to feel better about myself, as a 20 year old I started using alcohol instead of boys, and as a 25 year old I started using methamphetamines instead of everything else)… so the disease of addiction was a part of my life well before I made that first selfish decision to use…. and recovery was the choice I made that let me pick up and make amends to those around me when possible.. but learn the best thing I could do was put my recovery first, take care of myself first and be self-supporting productive member of society, and then be there for others… glad my family understands without a bit of putting myself first today.. there would be no way that I would ever be there for them when they needed me… because my disease is still very present.. I just do the things prescribed to keep it dormant.

    Reply
  263. Ron February 4, 2014 at 4:57 pm

    It’s easy for people who’ve never tried drugs or drink to say that those who try them are selfish or stupid to do it. But a lot of people, that first time they try something, are self-medicating or trying to escape unhappy lives. If you’ve had a happy life without any great tragedies in it, then consider yourself blessed, but you can’t know what sufferings another person may have gone through to make trying drugs or alcohol seem like it was worth a shot to take the pain away. Some of those people won’t get addicted, they’ll try things and move on and learn to fix themselves without substances, but unfortunately a certain minority of people who try something will get addicted to it and at that point it’s hard. Also, if you’ve witnessed a non-addict try things and manage to live fine without addiction you might think you can do it too, and be wrong.

    Reply
  264. No Tbuyi Ngit February 4, 2014 at 5:12 pm

    “In Theory” addiction is preventable? I’d argue it’s preventable 100% of the time for every single person that is addicted to anything? I used to smoke cigarettes in my early 20s. Now I don’t smoke. How did I do it? I stopped smoking cigarettes. My dad had cancer. It wasn’t as easy for him to stop having cancer.

    A disease is something you aren’t able to simply stop doing. If you have cancer, and you’re sitting in a room alone, you still have cancer. If you are a heroin addict and you’re sitting in a room alone without heroine, I promise you wont have any heroin. Try it, you’ll see what I mean.

    If I’m at a restaurant and I’m eating something that tastes very good but leaves me feeling bloated and tired, the next time I go to out, I’m not going to eat that, even though I REALLY like it and it tastes REALLY good and it makes me feel REALLY good to eat tasty stuff. If I eat it, it’s not the food’s fault, it’s not addiction’s fault, or the restaurateur or my parents’/friends’/siblings’/bad influences’ fault, nor is it the fault of movies, video games, TV shows…It’s my fault only.

    This phenomenon takes on a bunch of names…self-control, discipline, willpower, taking responsibility for yourself and your actions; to name a few. America, generally, has a lack of it. I’m not just saying that…at my age, I’ve probably met roughly 40k people and I have seen it first hand.

    It’s a crazy thing though…if you are able to exercise just a little bit of self-control, you’re better off than literally hundreds of millions of Americans. You can pull ahead of 98% of Americans in any chosen area by exhibiting just a small amount of discipline and willpower. Mental illness, disease are very real; but eating drugs? C’mon. You’re at the back of the pack (and probably belong there) if you can’t straighten that S*** out. Lonely or not, selfish or not. Get it together or don’t…if you don’t, you probably will die.

    I’ve been up / down / high / low / popular / lonely / rich / poor / on top / on bottom…the universe can pull you all over the place until you set a path for yourself.

    Reply
  265. Justin February 4, 2014 at 5:21 pm

    This is a remorseful post. Regardless you’ve had drug issues and been clean for many years. You make your own decisions. I deal with my own depression and anxiety heavily. But I refuse to take meds, and refuse to do harmful things to myself; tho harm was in my past. It not worth anything. God is great. Though I don’t seek everything through the word, I know there is more than depression and suicide. Grow up, toughen up. The old days woudnt tolerate such losers we have today. Complaining about any “hard work” or “depressed”. I love working hard; gives me so much pride, I forget that I ever was depressed. So y’all need to grow a pair and realize were in America. We built this land on hard work. So put your damn phone down and potato chips. Work for what you have/want, that’s the American dream!

    Reply
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  267. j. price February 4, 2014 at 5:35 pm

    If it is a disease then God can and will heal you.

    Reply
  268. Amy February 4, 2014 at 5:38 pm

    Respectfully, those of you all who were not addict simply can’t understand. As and Addict in recovery, I can assure you that he was not happy with what he was doing. The disease is a selfish disease. That does not mean the people who suffer from it are inherently bad or selfish. This is not a morality question it is a compulsion, an illness The bottom line is in the throes of addiction is you do things against your moral code. Every action, word, sought is centered around this disease. Anyone who does not have this disease cannot relate to that empty hole inside, the feeling that chemically you are just “off “an overwhelming need to seek an outside substance to make you right.

    I had a huge sympathy for those people who have loved ones in the throes of addiction. No, I do not believe that addiction is a get out of jail free card or an excuse for any and all behavior. Just remember that if and when not person seeks recovery they are most likely more ashamed of their past behavior then you can imagine. If you have the capacity to forgive them when they ask for it, do it. Sometimes they have gone too far and a person has to protect themselves from the addict. That is understandable. Bottom line, it is a disease. A terrible, insidious disease. Whoever says it’s not has a lot to learn.

    Reply
  269. MommaMyers February 4, 2014 at 5:43 pm

    So many thoughtful and interesting perspectives here. Lots of pain showing through too.

    Just to add another dimension, I feel that even more selfish than an compulsive addicts’ behavior is the casual user who argues their rights to have and to promote their drug(s) of choice. From watching beer and alcohol commercials and the allure of these messages, I cannot help but feel sadness for the soon-to-be alcoholic who will be taking his or her first drink. Drugs, alcohol and behaviors can be fine for some but life-altering for others; it’s a game of Russian Roulette that remains unappreciated by many in our society.

    Reply
  270. Jim February 4, 2014 at 5:46 pm

    Say what you will. I am not addicted nor have I been. .nor do I intend to be. I have made the conscious decision to avoid addiction. Avoid drugs that kill. Avoid drugs that cause this selfishness.. I can’t believe the discussion here is about being selfish! How selfish is that? come on. .get real. You are selfish when you make the decision to take an addictive drug. You are not stupid, I assume? You are a person that knows between right and wrong decisions? This ongoing debate is worthless. When someone debates the issue like this it solves nothing. All those dead surely have no input. hmm

    Reply
  271. Allison Cleland February 4, 2014 at 5:53 pm

    If the United States legalized all drugs and treated addiction as a public health crisis, (like many other countries) people would feel safe to share their shame and secret. Here in the US, we’re afraid of being arrested or not be able to work if we admit to doing blow. Hey! Some of us cant even smoke pot, and pot is a good thing.
    Addicts keep their secret to stay out of jail. I love America very much, but that is just awful.

    Reply
  272. Noel February 4, 2014 at 6:36 pm

    Not selfish? My brother kept saying he wouldn’t live to see 40, he made it to 42 but thought it was funny. Died with a needle sticking out of his arm and a distinguished degree flushed down the toilet. He was abusive and I had to say away from him. Although, we watched as he ripped out my mother’s heart daily.

    Reply
  273. JimDad February 4, 2014 at 7:27 pm

    As the father of three beautiful sons who have severely damaged their lives through drug addiction; in a perfect world I would like to see ALL drug dealers put to death.

    Reply
  274. Gay Collins February 4, 2014 at 7:28 pm

    Here’s the bottom line: if you were Philip Seymour Hoffman, you would have done EXACTLY the same as he did. We are all one.

    Reply
  275. OedipusTax February 4, 2014 at 7:55 pm

    “Selfishness – self-centeredness! That, we think, is the root of our troubles . . . So our troubles, we think, are basically of our own making. They arise out of ourselves, and the alcoholic [or addict] is an extreme example of self-will run riot, though he usually doesn’t think so. Above everything, we alcoholics [or addicts] must be rid of this selfishness. We must or it kills us!” p. 62 Alcoholics Anonymous

    Reply
  276. dan February 4, 2014 at 7:56 pm

    I am amazed at how much ignorance remains on the subject of addiction. Make no mistake. Addiction of any kind is a disease. Ask any trained addiction specialist or anyone who has had a loved one or friend “afflicted.” For those who insist that addiction is a choice, there are many good books available on the topic. I encourage you to educate yourself.

    Reply
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  278. cat klaus February 4, 2014 at 8:38 pm

    Lots of comments from ‘normies’ who have no business commenting on something they know nothing about. It takes an addict to know an addict. Our brains are wired differently. For some one to say it’s will power, choice, common sense, morals, values, family, religion, ect; ect; they just don’t get it. They do not understand addiction. They obviously are not familiar with any 12 step program. And that’s ok. Anyone who is not an addict could not possibly begin to understand what it is to be an addict. Our disease of addiction is just that, a disease and our medicine for this disease is a 12 step program. Everyone needs it, we all NEED it. Unfortunetly it is only there for the ones who WANT it, and are willing to go to ANY lengths to get it. You see, a practicing addict cares nothing about anything or anyone, they have one mission in life: The getting and using and finding ways and means to get more. And they will go to ANY lengths to get their drugs. Using comes first and foremost no matter what. What I do to stay clean today is the opposite. I am WILLING to go to any lengths for my recovery. My recovery comes first and foremost. Like drugs when I was using, my recovery comes before family, money, property, a job, everything. Because without recovery I have nothing, anything I put in front of my recovery I will loose. Recovery got my family back, I’m able to keep a job and money in my pocket, I own my car….but the most important thing recovery gave me was true serenity within myself. Peace of mind. I know today that no matter what, as long as I don’t pick up ANY mind or mood altering substances I will be ok. If you don’t understand, I mean really comprehend what I have said then you are not an addict. If you are not an addict then you have no business talking about something you know nothing about. I am ok with you not getting it, are you ok that you don’t get it is the question.

    Reply
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  280. Scott February 4, 2014 at 8:51 pm

    As a recovering addict it took many years of being clean and working the 12-steps before I could understand the statement that the disease of addiction is selfish disease.

    What my experience in recovery has taught me is, that at the center of my disease is a negative sense of self coupled by an over whelming urge to escape that feeling by using drugs to get outside myself and give me the impression that the feeling of a negative sense of self no longer exists.

    Once I understood this simple parable I could then understand that the Disease of Addiction is selfish, just as much as the addict it consumes, and that the addict is selfish to feed the disease of addiction.

    If you read this and it makes no sense to you; then that is because you are not an addict nor a recovering addict, and that’s OK.

    Reply
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  282. Susan February 4, 2014 at 9:12 pm

    As the Mother of a recovering addict and myself a recovering alcoholic of 28 yrs, I suggest reading the book by David Sheff, “beautiful boy”.

    As the Mother of a recovering addict and myself a recovering alcoholic of 28 years, I recommend the book by David Sheff, “beautiful boy”.

    Reply
  283. RD February 4, 2014 at 9:32 pm

    Wow. So much hate and name calling on this comment board. We are all entitled to our opinions, personal experiences, and education regarding the subject of substance abuse. Whether the addict, the parents, the children,or the siblings, we are all affected. If we do not listen, we do not learn.
    I tried the empathy route and after years of persuasion and what I hoped was the users rock bottom, I (alone with no support) helped get them to a in-patient rehab, making sure it was by their choice. Within 2 months a relapse occurred causing family problems and incidents and I decided to cut the ties telling them I loved them and that for my own preservation that please do not call me until you have been clean for 6 months. They attacked me and said they did not understand my definition of love. 3 years later, no call although I hear occasionally from family who enable and are addicted themselves to other substances.
    I have had more peace these last 3 years than the 5 or more years before. Sometimes you just have to cut the ties for your own sanity and well being. I would most certainly cry at their grave, but I would not blame myself in any way.
    Prayers for now… time will tell the end of the story and I hope for a positive one. They have been told that if they ever want help to quit, I am here to support.
    Nothing else for us to discuss…period.

    Reply
  284. Sean McCullough February 4, 2014 at 9:40 pm

    Addiction is a learned behavior that may or may not have a genetic predisposition. Science doesn’t know. Bone cancer is a disease but a sponsor and a meeting aren’t going to bring that to a halt. Saying you have a disease is like saying, ‘that’s because im A.D.D’. It’s a crutch. When I became addicted over time it’s because I made a choice to do what I wanted, when I wanted and didn’t care about anything or anyone else (self centered/selfish).

    Reply
    • Scott February 4, 2014 at 10:09 pm

      Obviously you have no personal experience in this matter and that is ok.

      Reply
  285. Melanie February 4, 2014 at 10:26 pm

    thank you, thank you, thank you. VERY well said. it’s a dark lens many ppl look through at those addicted to drugs, and those whose lives are forever gone from this earth bc of it. my best friend was ABSOLUTELY NOT selfish- he was just really hurting, and really trying… he was (is) so much more than the drugs defining him. it’s so easy to judge, so easy to be wrong… and so easy to simply not feel the pain of empathy… I’d rather feel it than not, and I really needed to read this now at this exact time, thank you for your words and for putting it out there. namaste.

    Reply
  286. Caitlin February 4, 2014 at 10:28 pm

    I am someone who struggles with alcohol. Since my son has been born nearly a year ago I still struggle but he is the strength to want to stay sober. There have been a few occasions since his birth that I have had a little too much to drink and my husband would take over his care. Not just during the drinking but the inevitable hang over stage. That is when I feel the worst and barely get through the day. That to me is when I feel I am being selfish. When I can’t enjoy my baby and my husband the way I want to because I can barely get out of bed. But it is complicated. There are ups and downs and guilt and that feeling they are better off without having this looming over them. I have been progressively better and know this is not something I can have in his life. I will admit I never once touched any harder drug because I know myself too well. If I was to abuse heroin I would die. I just wish many others would see that about themselves before heading down that path. Because recovery and sobriety takes courage and strength. You don’t just wake up and say I am no longer an alcoholic or an addict you need to reach inside and find that strength everyday and that alone is exhausting. To just assume you are perfect and not conflicted is in itself selfish. Having no compassion or concern for someone who is struggling everyday is selfish. Anyone on earth can be selfish whether they are an addict or not. It is called being human. The end result in this case is tragic. To shrug your shoulders and say well they should have known better is insane.

    Reply
    • Phil February 4, 2014 at 10:46 pm

      Everyone that is commenting this trying to start arguments, and prove that they know more about the subject than anyone else does are the selfish ones. Someone is dead, you people make me sick

      Reply
  287. i loved him February 4, 2014 at 10:46 pm

    Selfish is lying, cheating, and stealing from everybody and anybody you can “get over” on.
    Selfish is breaking the heart of anybody who loves you.
    Heroin addiction, almost always, leads to this.
    WE ALL KNOW THIS.

    Reply
  288. Antonio February 4, 2014 at 10:47 pm

    Two words for any loved one of an addict reading this: Tough. Love.

    That’s the ONLY thing that works. Tough love, with an emphasis on the “tough” part. Addicts are cunning and deeply selfish. To help them, what is required is accessing the well of compassion you have in your heart for them so you can find the strength to steel yourself for what you must do. And what must you do? Create CONSEQUENCES for these selfish creatures so they can bottom out and see how profoundly they have screwed up their lives. There is no other way.

    Much too much is made of the struggles of addicts and never nearly enough is made of the struggles of those who love them. These courageous individuals endure all kinds of pain and strife in order to save the ones they love.

    Addicts: confront your selfishness and other shortcomings directly. This journey through the darkness will lead you back to the light of your life: the loved ones who are looking out for you this very moment and who want only to guide you to a new beginning. Let them guide you.

    Reply
  289. Mary February 4, 2014 at 11:35 pm

    Addiction: the fact or condition of being addicted to a particular substance, thing, or activity.

    Is addiction selfish? I do not know. We have medical science, societal rules, personal perspectives on it that support the yes and no. We have our own opinions as we experience addiction directly or indirectly. In time, perhaps, we – society – will find a suitable answer.

    In the meantime:

    -To those who have not yet supported a family member or friend battling an addiction, congratulations.

    -To those who are in recovery, congratulations and I hope that you fight every second of every day and know that there are many around you and complete strangers supporting you in your fight;

    -To those who are active users, please listen to friends and family instead of your demanding addiction…even if it is for 10 seconds at first;

    -And, finally, to those whose family member and/or friend lost the battle, You had tried to put yourself in someone else’s shoes so that you could connect to find that “aha” moment to turn someone around; you had exercised tough love; you had sought input from others; you had your own personal mission to make this right again. I am so sorry for your loss.

    To everyone reading this…take care and keep the debate going!

    Reply
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  291. Jo February 4, 2014 at 11:59 pm

    Almost all teens experiment with drugs at least once or twice. I say drugs, because ALCOHOL IS A DRUG. Yes, initially it is a choice. But you don’t know you have the disease until you activate it and then your brain tells you it’s not addicted. The drugs and alcohol do not get you high. The amount of dopamine they push out into the brain is what gets you high. The brains of addicts,( if your addicted to alcohol, you are an addict) processes drugs differently than that of a social drinker. New neurological pathways in the brain grow just to sustain the addiction! All this happens without the person’s knowledge. Addiction is considered a mental health illness because the brain is what starts the addiction process. Being a disease does not exempt you from accountability. Once you realize, or someone helps you realize that you have this disease, than it is your responsibility to take care of your condition. 40 to 60 % of all addiction is hereditary. Too bad we didn’t have a test to know ahead of that first drink. For some of us, the first drug sets off the disease. I know, because I am 20 years clean, and I got mine from my Dad, and his dad, and so on. I was addicted from the first time I drank. People, I beg you. Educate yourself before saying things that continue the shame and stigma that keep so many people from getting help. It’s really tragic when a person would rather be considered a “party animal” rather than an alcoholic in recovery. Look up the Anonymous People documentary and get a grip!

    Reply
  292. Micah February 5, 2014 at 12:04 am

    Thank you so much for writing this.

    My boyfriend died of a heroin overdose 3 weeks ago. He was not selfish in any way. He was a remarkable person with so much heart. Addiction can strike anyone in any form. It’s just a matter of the consequences.

    I will never for a minute believe his death or addiction was a selfish act. He did everything he could to overcome it and I will forever be proud of him.

    Reply
  293. kim February 5, 2014 at 12:09 am

    I am not an addict but, my heart goes out to the addict. Something has to be going inside of that person that we may not ever understand. I have people in my life that are recovering and still battling. they happen to be wonderful people and I know this is something deeper than what we know, see and feel. Only good thing that has come out of Justin Beiber, Witney and now Hoffman is conversation and heightened awareness. What do we do next? Only thing I can do is pray for them, encourage them to get help and continue to love them Like my God does.

    Reply
  294. shannon February 5, 2014 at 12:51 am

    Addiction is a disease (period) It is within those of us, from birth, who become addicts and/or alcoholics. The AMA has shown the pathology of addiction. Our brains are different. Selfishness, however, is a human condition people. Just thank whatever god you pray to, your lucky stars…whatever, that dieing from your selfishness is unlikely. People are selfish. Addiction does not bring about the best in people..thus the self-centered behavior of the addict in active addiction. The use and abuse of substances and/or behaviors while in our addiction, however is as selfish as a drowning man trying to get air into his lungs. The feeling that I will die without my poison…or that I cannot feel normal without my drug of choice…is addiction. If you have never taken a drink or a drug, or gambled, or eaten chocolate, or looked at porn, or shopped or used the internet…then you can certainly stand on your mountain top and preach the virtues of an unselfish life. If you indulged yourself at any time and did not succumb to addiction of anything…then you are not an addict and don’t know what it is to be one and have not educated yourself on the realities of the disease of addiction. This article is right on real. I have not found it necessary to drink or pick up for 4 years 7 months and 9 days, only by the grace of my god.

    Reply
  295. doone February 5, 2014 at 1:27 am

    My 2 cents on these comments I am reading.
    I am an RN for over 20 years. I have taken care of hundreds of addicts in the ER, ICU, Liver transplant, med/surg units, outpatient pain clinic & psych unit. I was also once married to an alchoholic / drug addict & actively involved in every aspect of his treatment. I’ve watched people suffer in ways that are etched in my mind forever, I’ve also watched them die. There is no doubt in my mind addiction is a disease. But it is a disease of the mind and the body – addiction the psychological craving, & physical dependence/ tolerance, these phenomenoms go hand in hand. I have come to the conclusion that there are 2 types of addicts, the experimenter or recreational user who suffers from poor self esteem or just careless & reckless & wants to live on the edge & get high. (selfish – yes) Then there is the 2nd type of addict, the more common one. The person who suffers from a mental illness (depression, anxiety, bipolar, schizophrenia, OCD etc) that is either undiagnosed or is diagnosed. They use drugs (alcohol IS a drug) to self-medicate. They do this for many reasons; they don’t know they have a mental illness &/or they don’t have the financial means to seek a doctor, &/or the most common, they are too ashamed or emberassed to do either of the above. Then they compound this with the use of drugs to escape, numb & medicate their illness. Addiction & mental illness is cloaked in shame, confusion, guilt & ultimately isolation & despair. Most people are either ignorant or just plain underestimate the power, potency & the psychological & physical destruction of drugs. As this downward spiral of destruction is occurring their judgement is too impaired to make any rational decisions. At the same time the physical dependence becomes increasingly worse & not using the drug will lead to paralyzing & often life-threatening withdrawl & so they become a slave to their master. The addicts I do judge & have little to no tolerance for, are the ones that did get professional help, that did go to rehab & did receive treatment & get an education & given the tools to work a program, have a sponser, stay sober etc. But yet despite this gift, they CHOOSE to ignore & CHOOSE to take the dark path once again – Yes this is selfish. I think of these people like diabetics. The diabetic who has been diagnosed, has been treated & given the tools to live a healthy life knows exactly what needs to be done to control their disease & stay healthy. They must every single day & hour for the rest of their lives be diligent & compliant to control their disease. Addicts are no different. It is a chronic progressive disease just like diabetes if left untreated every single day. When I take care of a diabetic who has life-threateningly high blood sugars it is almost always because they didn’t take their meds//insulin, or they didn’t check their blood sugars, or they ate a poor high glycemic meal/s. (their are exceptions such as a secondary illness.) Addicts are the same – noncompliance will kill them. Bottom line. But unfortunately it actually really isn’t as simple – Addiction is by far the most complex of all diseases – by far, on so many levels. The psychsocial complexities alone are mind-boggling. People who have diabetes are not afraid or ashamed to get & continue professional help. This is where my analogy ends. People who have addictions & mental illness are afraid or ashamed to get professional help. This one factor, just on its own kills addicts, and in the meantime destroys & debilitates the lives of the addicts loved ones.
    Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s ending is not unique in anyway. It is an epidemic in our society & our society needs to change.

    Reply
    • jo February 5, 2014 at 9:32 am

      Doone, that was awesome! I can tell you have been around the disease! Please watch (download it) the documentary “The Anonymous People”. We are trying to change the stigma surrounding this disease and there are several famous people working on this project. Congressman Patrick kennedy and actress Kristen Johnson just to name a few. It is awesome and becoming a whole grassroots movement to get the education out about this disease! Any questions, please feel free to contact me @ http://www.asteptosoberliving.com

      Reply
  296. Elizabeth Faraone February 5, 2014 at 4:25 am

    Some people who are addicted to drugs have selfish personalities and some don’t. I don’t believe the two are connected. We don’t understand why innocent experimentation with drugs leads some to addiction and others not. Philip Seymour Hoffman was as generous as they get, evidenced in his acting.

    Reply
  297. Karen Zacharias February 5, 2014 at 6:30 am

    There is a reason it is called addiction: If they could stop they would.

    Reply
  298. Bilal February 5, 2014 at 7:08 am

    We offer addiction interruption without cold turkey using an ancient natural plant with 70% or more success rate. Contact us on info@harambedetox.com

    Reply
  299. Pingback: It’s Not All Selfish : Pink Vengeance

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  302. Michelle Mellinger February 5, 2014 at 9:03 am

    This was such a touching story that I identify with. not heroin, but I did it one time and loved it so much I never did it again. I was introduced to meth by a husband…..being a bit overweight (which in hindsight I wasnt), I went through that phase, I was so fortunate to have my son. He was the reason that… on one incredible day, I just prayed on my way to get meth and it was an incredible release. I had prayed so many times before and almost gave up. I went to meetings. But, that one day, I turned the car around and went to the grocery store instead. But, having alcohol at the supermarket made it difficult. I now live in a Muslim country which lends itself to alcohol as well….(psst…ppl do drugs and alcohol everywhere) but I find being in my home and trying to make it pretty while I have a glass of beer in my hand..is..better than dealing with the outside world. You wouldnt guess it if you see me out. Im the ‘happy one’, Im the life of the party. I smile. I offer you help and make you comfortable…then I go home. ppl do not understand just what he was enduring. Even though he was handsome and funny and everyone said they loved him, he was still alone. the problem wasnt the heroin or any other drug(that was his best friend). sucks, but, thats the way of us addicts..

    Reply
  303. dolly February 5, 2014 at 9:22 am

    i don’t care if he od, died of natural causes or whatever. this world lost one of the most talented minds of my time. he could excite you, make you afraid, stun you and take you to levels you never though possible. hoffman will be missed. weather he was selfish or not is not up to us to say ( i mean look at all the great films he gave us) . his family , who has to read these post about their loved one, are the ones who have that decission to make if they so choose. or they can do what i do and remember the man for what he did and what he gave us. thanks hoffman. you will be missed.

    Reply
  304. Kate February 5, 2014 at 9:45 am

    I appreciate the article so much. Addiction is no more a form of selfishness than depression or overeating. No one says, I’m going to be a drug addict or an alcoholic. That’s never the goal. My son has struggled with drug addiction for 20 years now. I’ve almost lost him a number of times. He has stayed clean for periods of time – the longest, 3 and a half years and he did great during that time…until he didn’t. But the inner pain that addicts struggle with for whatever reason often pushes them back to that learned behavior of seeking relief through the source of their addiction.

    The life of an addict Is not an easy path. Guilt and sadness compound the other inner issues that have led to relapse and are often overwhelming. What I’ve been working on is learning to love and empathize without enabling. That’s not easy. And to love him regardless – that I can do.

    The author says, “Addiction is bigger than class, race, religion, or any other factor that one might hope would reduce its captive hold. Succumbing to it isn’t selfish. It’s horribly sad and extremely difficult to prevent, even though it is, in theory, preventable. The way we talk about a celebrity who ODs says a lot about the way we think about people who are struggling around us. It’s time we tried to understand struggles we don’t endure ourselves. It’s called empathy, and we could all use a lot more of it.”

    Addiction does not discriminate…that is the truth.

    Reply
  305. VH February 5, 2014 at 11:10 am

    It is a disease. Simple as that. Alcoholism ran down the female side of my family. Why did I say ran – my grandmother, and mother both died alcoholic deaths. I was able to get into recovery in 1999. If the underlying issues that coexist or drive the illness are not addressed, drug addiction can “migrate” to other expressions – eating, shopping, porn. I know my husband in recovery migrated to porn addiction and lost a very high paying job due it. Now he is struggling with auction shopping!

    It is neither one or the other. It is all of combined – it is a disease of being dis -eased in life. It has moments of pure selfishness, denial.

    PHS was trying, he just couldn’t find the right way to get the monkey of his back. Due to having money, the usual factor that takes people out of the cycle and to their bottom, his bottom was death.

    I hope that someone somewhere is able to take this tragedy and find the message they need to get free of the chains of addiction.

    Reply
  306. Jacqueline February 5, 2014 at 2:34 pm

    Being the daughter and a wife of 31 years of addicts (alcohol) the only time my addicts were aware of their own behaviour was when they were sober. Which wasn’t very often, their families and friends who loved them had to deal with their, selfesh, self absorbed, single minded, obsessional behaviour for 24/7. I could not cure them but i also know i didn’t cause it, I also belong to a 12 step programme which probably saved my life and my sanity. I and their families came a very poor last in their lives, after their needs had been met and although I have a great deal of sympathy for the family and friends of addicts of any persuasion I’m not sure I have much sympathy or empathy left for addicts.

    Reply
  307. Nakotko February 5, 2014 at 2:54 pm

    Great article on the consequences of an addiction on one of the best actor of our times. One question I see missing though, why do addicts overdose after a rehab? I might sound naïve but I don’t get why people going out of rehab are not being warned about the possibility of an OD if they fall of the wagon considering the amount of drug they tolerated at their admission was way bigger than when they got out. It seems to be the case of PSH as well as hundred other ones I recall.

    Is it a lack of information on OD from the rehab institutions causing all those deaths?

    Reply
    • shannon February 5, 2014 at 5:12 pm

      To Nakotko, the answer to your question is that the disease of addiction is a progressive one. Meaning, the addict does not pick up where they left off, they pick up at the point their disease would have been had they continued to use. Many MANY who have relapsed after a period of abstinence can attest to this, if they live through it.

      Reply
      • Nakotko February 5, 2014 at 5:27 pm

        I see what you mean Shannon, but since it is a well known fact, why the information about this dosage issue is not well spread in the rehab programs, or is it because when people take their first shot after 3 years abstinence, they want to ”reward” themselves, omitting their not as tolerant to the substance as they where before? Is it misinformation or denial of it?

        Reply
        • shannon February 5, 2014 at 5:30 pm

          The information is part of rehab, the progressiveness of the disease, the bodies intolerance, relapse triggers. The disease is in large part, an obsession of the mind. It is cunning, baffling and powerful. Deadly…and very very sad.

          Reply
  308. JN February 5, 2014 at 3:10 pm

    For all of you claiming alcoholism and/or addiction is not a disease – ONCE AND FOR ALL – YOU ARE WRONG. The American Medical Association (AMA) had declared that alcoholism was a disease in 1956 and thereafter began recognizing it as such. In 1991, The AMA further endorsed the dual classification of alcoholism by the International Classification of Diseases (ICD) under both psychiatric and medical sections. The CDC (for all you half-brains, that stands for the Centers for DISEASE Control) currently has numerous ICD Codes for defining THE DISEASE of alcoholism and/or addiction. So take your rightous brains to “the google” and go look up ICD-9 Codes in the 303 series (particularly 303.9) and ICD-10 codes in the F-10.2 series. These codes get applied to death certificates, to finally and officially specify the cause of death when people like Phillip die because DISEASES KILL PEOPLE.

    Reply
    • Mkang February 5, 2014 at 3:21 pm

      ATTN: JN, can you please post more info where to find the info regarding ICD-9 Codes in the 303 series (particularly 303.9) and ICD-10 codes in the F-10.2 series? I am involved with something where I might need more info regarding an addiction diagnosis and I am having an issue finding the info you referred to.
      Thanks so much.

      Reply
  309. Theresa February 5, 2014 at 4:38 pm

    These kinds of deaths are very tragic and sad but addiction is not a disease – it is a spiritual problem. People use whatever their ‘drug’ is, whether it be drugs, alcohol, food, sex, etc, to fill a vacuum inside them and the only thing that can fill that void is a person and his name is Jesus Christ.

    Reply
    • Nakotko February 5, 2014 at 5:03 pm

      Hey Mother Theresa, in this current century, not everybody can or wants to believe in a higher love than himself, you seem to have little empathy for the atheists. Your’e the one that is selfish when you blind your eyes with mythology. Got ya!

      Reply
  310. Cassandra K. February 5, 2014 at 4:43 pm

    http://sunsetsinhereyes.blogspot.com/2014/02/addiction-is-selfish-corrigan-vaughan.html

    This link above is for an open letter I have written to you, Corrigan. While I deeply agree we all need to practice more empathy for those suffering from addiction, lets not say that addiction itself is not selfish, that is not at all true.

    Reply
  311. a4grainer February 5, 2014 at 4:52 pm

    The first comment by Charles Mauro is exactly to the point! Addiction is SELFISH. Deciding to do drugs to start either thru peer pressure or curiousity, it is your own decision. No one put a gun to your head to start drugs. by this time in our lives, many of us have seen drug addicts from a nobody in the streets or famous rock stars we hear of, we know the consequences or risk you take when opting to do drugs like heroin or crack. then once you get in deep with the addiction, your selfishness increases. all you care about is getting your fix. acting, stealing, lying et al are the formula to selfishness. what bothers me the most is PSH went to rehab, clean for over 20 years, then fell of the wagon. he knew exactly the consequences. he had 3 kids by this time. before he injected himself after being clean all these years, i am sure he paused and thought about what he was about to lose – his kids, family, career…and his life. he chose his own gratification, his own high, this i say is a selfish act. i am so tired for feeling empathy when dead celebrities are the affected and say we should learn from them. Screw them. They had the life, money, and oppty for a better life. what about someone from a poor environment who died from an overdose that has been happening for so many decades. give me a break. drug addicts are bad people. nobody in their right mind will let their kids associate with a drug addict or user. until they get help and get out of it, then they can be a good person/citizen again within our community. if they go back, then they are bad people again. bcuz if they dont have the money like PSH had, i am sure these drug addicts will lie, steal and possibly hurt someone to get their fix…and this starts with his or her own family first. there i said my piece.

    Reply
  312. powderpig February 5, 2014 at 7:56 pm

    Addictions are not diseases. Not even disorders. Cancer and leukemia are diseases. Depression and bipolar are disorders. Addiction can be cured by not drinking, not doing drugs, not smoking. Addiction is difficult to control but the cure is a choice not to do a physical action.

    Please do not insult those with actual diseases by claiming addiction is a self inflicted disease.

    Get over yourself and grow a pair and take responsibility for your actions and be accountable for yourself. Get help!

    Reply
    • shannon February 5, 2014 at 8:41 pm

      Ignorance is one thing, but willful ignorance is another. You sir, fall into the latter category. I guess you know more than years of scientific study? More than the AMA? More than the thousands of addicts who have found recovery, who came to the understanding of their disease of addiction. Addiction and alcoholism is a disease, period. Self centered-ness is a human condition, from which none of us are immune. The disease of addiction just so happens to magnify all of the worst of our human nature. It must be so comforting to be above all of us lowly mere humans. Wow.

      Reply
  313. Mkang February 5, 2014 at 7:58 pm

    I am at a place right now where I want to share how I feel, but at the same time I can barely put it into words …. but ……….. I love to write and can do it well. Here is what I have to say ~ ~ ~ After Philip Seymour Hoffman’s death and the article written on the Electric Feast website, I made the decision to subscribe to receive other people’s comments on this article. Consequently, I have learned more about addiction than I ever knew before. Of course the reason for my subscribing to this news feed is that I am trying to find answers and relate this info to my own addicted daughter’s tragic & untimely death.
    At this time, I am now completely entrenched & informed with knowledge that I SHOULD have known when she was alive so I could have HELPED her and not constantly CRITICIZED her. The story of this “news feed” goes on and on and this afternoon someone actually wrote their “own” article and put a link to it in the comment section of this page – debating whether “addiction” is a selfish disease or NOT a case of selfishness – hence declaring the “addiction” as being something unpreventable . I went there and read this new article.
    Whether I personally believe that addiction is a selfish behavior or something the addict can or cannot control is irrelevant….. As I got the bottom of the response the writer of the article had put two “boxed” sayings – you know – the kind y’all are copying, sharing, posting on Facebook every second of every day? ……. Let’s change horses for a moment and come back to MY reality – when we measured where my daughter’s body was actually found IN the River where she drown in only 3’ of water. I had said/exclaimed, “Oh she could have just stood up!!!” True DAT! C’mon now… true story! Therefore I don’t understand why she was found drown in only 3 FEET of water…..?? And then…………. Going back to the rebuttal article written…at the bottom of her response the author had two “boxed sayings” (like you see on Facebook all the time).… Are you kidding me? It blew me away… I completely lost it. How could someone from “somewhere” find a saying that was “literally” & “exactly” my thoughts in the instance of losing my daughter due to addiction in the physical way she died? Either directly or indirectly??

    It left me in a heap of a crying mess. I do not expect many of you to “get this” post … but I DO & get it – “loud and clear”. I am not 100% sure I should even put this on my Facebook page, but to me – it is amazing how my thoughts in a literal sense for the situation could have already been put into a philosophical saying by some stranger found on the internet, and how it relates to losing my daughter to this terrible DISEASE called ADDICTION.

    The words in the saying are:

    The worst thing is watching someone drown and not being able to convince them that can save themselves by just standing up.

    Reply
  314. kathy February 5, 2014 at 8:15 pm

    This is the most accurate and insightful article I have ever read about addiction. This disease destroys our very essence and no human being choses to have this disease. A lot of specialists have tried to shed light on the fact that addiction is indeed a disease, just like cancer, and calling an addict selfish would be as ludicrous as calling a cancer patient selfish. But unfortunately, after all the research, all the facts….the stigma about addicts being selfish, morally corrupt people prevails. It really is a shame. If only more people had the empathy that the writer of this article talks about, maybe addicts could come out of the guilt, the shame, the loneliness and the unbearable pain of living with this disease.

    Reply
    • Mkang February 5, 2014 at 9:36 pm

      No one seems to have the balls to give a “thumbs up” for those speaking out on behalf of one way or the other – too sad – they just seem to come here, leave their comment (s) and then move on like they were never in tune to this entire thread in the first place (?)
      I don’t get that, but I just wanted to say I appreciate your comments Kathy.

      May everyone be blessed and helped (if they want the help) – otherwise, I should hope that all will think of others (no matter where they are: addicted, or not addicted) and pray in our own way for everyone’s life on this thread…

      I will just say that once you leave this world, as we know it, you are gone. Gone, and your loved ones are left alone to figure out what happened – whether it selfish, not selfish, I don’t give a crap… Just please – don’t leave….

      Reply
  315. Jimbob February 5, 2014 at 9:03 pm

    I’ve used Heroin on-and-off for about 30 years (probably 50% on, 50% off) and am currently an active addict, having relapsed about 18 months ago when my marriage started to break down (mostly for non drug-related reasons)

    I’m not about to say that those that believe that it’s a disease are wrong in their belief, it just happens to be one that I don’t personally subscribe to. I am a heroin addict because I’ve taken it too many times and too regularly to avoid the physiological inevitability of addiction.

    For me it’s always been about the numbing of emotional and psychological pain stemming from childhood abuse and neglect, but, that said, I’ve never blamed my addiction on those things; I took the decision to take it, I paid for it and I administered it myself.

    Perhaps if I hadn’t have felt so tormented I may have made different choices, but that’s impossible to prove one way or the other – who knows, I may have done it anyway.

    It does make you a more selfish person, as not only does it numb pain, but numbs you to positive things also; it makes you feel less. Of everything. In the past year I have detoxed about six times, but each time I reawaken to the reality of life without the woman I gave my heart to and remember how broken that has made me. However I registered with a treatment clinic today and am going to try again. I’ve blown nearly all my savings on a million lungfuls of smoke and I don’t work when I’m stoned or wasting time trying to be.

    I take responsibility for making a mess of my life and know that – even with the help on offer from good friends – it is only going to be me who can pull my head out of my arse and sort it out. I will need that help, but without my input it would be wasted and disrespectful and a disappointment to some very good people.

    There do appear to be some views on here somewhat short on compassion, but again, each to their own; I refuse to be told what to think, and so I have to relinquish that hold over others. Think what you like, and I’ll do what I like, doing my utmost not to upset others and certainly not fucking them over. The worst that could happen is that I be reduced to begging in the street, but that just isn’t going to happen because I can beat it (again) as I’ve beaten it (before)

    Philip Seymour Hoffman, I miss you already. A great man and a brilliant actor. R.I.P.

    Reply
    • jo February 6, 2014 at 1:41 am

      Hi Jimbo, Maybe if you understood the “science of addiction” and accepted the fact that you have a disease without a cure, you could stop for good, instead of 50% on and 50 % off. What do you have to lose at this point? I’ve been able to do 19 years 100 % by learning how to mangae my disease and life is awesome today!

      Reply
  316. Mikey Mike February 5, 2014 at 10:40 pm

    My heart goes out to PSH & all those affected by this current situation…When I use, I am a selfish S.O.B., & I don’t give a fuck about anyone or anything, except my next high…I don’t care about the lives and welfare of my wife & kids…I can empathize TODAY w/ his anguish and loneliness, cuz all my addiction did was take me down a very sorry and pitiful road in which I thought I could never escape…I was in my own hell…Addiction, suicide, death, affect more people then just the addict…& for that U can definitely call me selfish cuz I was incapable of looking @ those others seriously affected by my disease…U think U can lead an addict to ‘water,’ but only when it is his time can he truly find his own way…I can only hope that in PSH death, as in so many others before, some rich & famous, and so many others not so fortunate, that we can learn the seriousness of addiction, and have not just sympathy and compassion, but empathy for those afflicted…We cannot judge another man or woman,lest we walk in there own shoes, and see their life as they see it through their own eyes…We all have demons chasing us in some form or other…RIP PSH, U will be surely missed…PS I have been clean & sober now for 2 1/2 yrs, & I only truly speak now from my heart, & my own experience, strength, & hope…

    Reply
  317. Bianca Goodnight February 5, 2014 at 10:41 pm

    Growing up with Alcholic Parents. And now realizing/Bipolar as well.I went for years.Abuse ing Alcohol/drugs-because that was feeling normal.Incomprehensible demoralization-Doing the same things.But expecting different results. Now with someone with duel diagnosis. ScizoidAlcohol-This person is in turmoil with himself.Im a co dependant-but have reached my limit.I cant loose everything.Because of his actions.No body wants to help people.Ive tryed finding help-givin up.And continued to help/while my life.Has to be on the back burner.Yes a good man when sober.But when drunk-mean, loud, name calling, falling down drunk.Has broken so many things that were special. Sorry just doesn’t hold water for me anymore. I had my battle-i finally won.Adiction with loved ones is hard.But you have to let go.Let god-you cant help someone.Who cant help themselfs.My feelings go out to the ones/that tryed to help.There the heros-i feel for the addict too.But dealing with a drunk or druggie.Is a exhausted up hill battle. That you have to put down the denial. And realize we all cant win.RIP

    Reply
  318. shannon February 5, 2014 at 11:48 pm

    Lets get this straight.

    The folks that cannot handle their drink or drugs and their life falls apart, they get to blame it all on a disease and not be held accountable for their selfish actions. “It’s not my fault, i have a disease, i am an addict”

    The folks that can handle their drink and drugs without having their lives fall apart get to go on their merry way “disease” free.

    Everyone good? good!

    Reply
  319. Pingback: the heartbreak of addictions | I Might Need A Nap

  320. Blaze February 6, 2014 at 1:05 am

    Good read. However, the comments reveal simply that people in the know just know. People that don’t know just spew off all kinds of nonsense.

    Reply
    • shannon February 6, 2014 at 1:10 am

      Now THAT is some truth speaking there!

      Reply
  321. Craig February 6, 2014 at 3:21 am

    I have been clean 10 out of the last 20 years. My using has been mostly pharmaceutical opiates. Phillip Seymour Hoffman was a great actor, but he wasn’t any more important or tragic than anyone else who died with a needle in their arm that day. When I first started attending NA, most of my local group were meth addicts. The younger crowd and returning veterans are addicted to opiates in discouraging numbers. Most kids who experiment with prescription drugs start by 11 or 12. The war on drugs needs to stop buying helocopters to scout for weed, and make the VA account for every narcotic pill it mails out each month. Throw way your old prescrptions! And, please stop asking family members when they can stop going to those 12 step meetings and get on with their life.

    Reply
  322. Jennifer February 6, 2014 at 8:58 am

    Thank you, Stuart!!! I agree with you 100%!!!!

    Reply
  323. Jacqueline Metelica Brzezinski February 6, 2014 at 1:03 pm

    “I respectfully disagree. As a substance abuse counselor, parent and ex smoker I can tell you this. Recovery is about the realization that the world does not revolve around your needs and desires, that you are part of a larger entity, and that the key to your own happiness is to concentrate more on giving rather than taking. ” taken from above.
    I do agree having watched, my brother, sister, and I actually met my husband who was actively using heroin when he was 27 that the devastation to all that a persons loved or loves will not help someone get better. The best thing is mandatory detox and lock up with therapy. I don’t think jail is the answer but it is if they don’t choose a program. They can’t help themselves, we can’t even reach them most of the time, they even run from intervention but we can create programs across the country to educate all of us.

    Reply
  324. Yolanda February 6, 2014 at 1:07 pm

    I am the granddaughter…niece…daughter…mother of addiction…I never used because I always saw others before me…and I was scared of getting out of control…and not being able to stop due to the family history…so when I had kids…I didn’t preach DON’T…I preached pride for yourself…being in control of yourself…and your destiny…and what could happen IF you started…when my eldest was 19…I noticed a change in her…more mental than anything else…she started dating this “awesome” fella…next thing I know…I get a call at work to come bail her out of jail…(theft at target)…for which I refused…but my mom felt bad…and did so…I stayed home for 2 weeks to make sure that she did not bolt while out on bond…all the while she is still dating this “awesome” fella…right after court…she bolted…it was at this time that we discovered…this “awesome” fella got her involved in meth…and she was stealing to support HER habit…we also found out that she was pregnant…our concern was for the baby more than anything…because our daughter made her choice…and there was nothing we could do…she eventually came home…had a healthy baby girl…and seemed ready to get back on track…enrolled in school…looking for a job…all seemed well…until the drugs called her name again…and again…and again…we offered to put her up in rehab…get her counseling…anything that might help…when the baby was 7months old…she walked out again…the baby is now 6.5 yo…and my daughter has not been back…my point of this is…this man had everything available to him…rehab…money to pay someone to keep him on the straight and narrow…and 3 beautiful children to live for…he chose to be selfish with children’s life…my daughter was also selfish…so was my dad…so was my aunt to her son…it is selfish to those you leave behind…

    Reply
  325. Jacqueline Metelica Brzezinski February 6, 2014 at 1:13 pm

    The opiates and prescription drugs, NA usually start out with a drink. They may not be alchoholics per se, but it started with a drink. Pot is just incidental. I like what Craig had to say. Opiates and prescription drugs in my mind is heroin. It is all in what you can afford or access. My husband used them to sleep, to not feel hung over and to be able to drink the next day and to seek out heroin. He quit in his own bed when he had a choice to get in a program, get a therapist or go to jail. Yes it was tough, but it didn’t kill him and he had been wrestling and working since he was 15 when he hit 27. Now he is 59, and sober every since. 3 years with a pastorial councilor. A lot of people don’t want to blame their up bringing so they never do the work and they never fix the pain. My brother would say, “If my parents hadn’t spanked me, I might have killed somebody.” Well if our parents hadn’t beat us with a belt as helpless children we might never had our issues or made poor people adult choices! Break that chain means not doing as our parents did to us. To me “Selfish” is an individual case…but I bet when the person cleans up if they weren’t selfish using they have anger to get under control once they are clean. Presence of a Higher Power (sober and clean) – no Higher Power (using and mean). A lot of meaness. If you didn’t have the meaness using, your buddies do and you condoned it….so do you own it? Yes you do. I feel sorry for this actor because I believe he was very lonely and that is what the drug does to you. Creates a big huge hole in your heart and it aches and you feel sorry for your self and you take it out on yourself and join a circle of people that do the same thing. The Good News is when the Higher Power Kicks in, it equally gives us Justice and Mercy and Love.

    Reply
  326. Anonymous February 6, 2014 at 3:00 pm

    No one can fully understand addiction, even addicts. I didn’t start to get it until my sister died of an accidental overdose. For years I felt like she was the most selfish person in the world. And then I talked to her counselor who explained to me how much she would have loved to have stayed sober, but she was so scared. This analogy is the closest I can come to trying to wrap my head around it.

    Let’s say you’re doing donuts in an icy parking lot and you wrap your car around a pole, blowing out several discs in your back. Was it a stupid thing to be doing in the first place? Absolutely, but that doesn’t change the fact that you have a busted back now. Surgery would be the best solution but deep down you honestly believe that something will go wrong and surgery will make things worse or kill you. Obviously you would be terrified to get that treatment so you keep using aspirin and ibuprofen as a band-aid. It’s never going to fix it but it gets you through the day for now. Your family racks up thousands in medical bills and everyone has to cater to you because you can’t do anything anymore. But you still believe with every fiber of your being that surgery has to be a worse solution than what you’re doing now. Is this fair to your family? Definitely not. But does that make it selfish? I don’t think it does.

    No one is saying that addiction isn’t horrible for the family to go through as well. My parents didn’t ask to lose their first born to this battle. Her kids never did anything to deserve growing up without their mom and I finally believe with ever fiber of my being that this is not what she wanted either. But the fact is that she had no control over it and in the end the disease won.

    Reply
  327. Andrew February 6, 2014 at 6:31 pm

    What a load of crap. So let me get this straight all you ex addicts. It wasn’t your fault you didn’t have a choice, you had to keep taking. But now your an ex addict, well if your an ex addict it would seem that you did have a choice, you just chose not to take it. (The choice that is, not the drug). If you truly had no choice then you would still be an addict wouldn’t you.

    Reply
    • shannon February 6, 2014 at 6:49 pm

      I would love to explain it to you, but I stopped listening when I read, “what a load of crap”…which shows (to me) a definite lack of interest in what this (or any) addict has to say. Yes, I said addict. I am one, always will be. I am in recovery from my disease. The first step to recovery is admitting I am powerless over my disease. We do not come to that without defeat, without desperation. Living in active addiction is hell. I did not begin my recovery until I found that my self will was not going to get me anywhere but dead. Like it or not, agree with it or not, that is the truth. The truth does not require belief for it to be true.

      Reply
      • Kate February 7, 2014 at 6:32 am

        Well said, Shannon!

        Reply
    • jo February 7, 2014 at 2:18 am

      Andrew,
      you are right about one thing. Speaking only for myself, yes I am still an addict. No cure for it. But I am also a person in long term recovery, which means I haven’t had to use in almost twenty years!! That being said, I have control over the first sip, hit, pill, whatever the substance. If I make a choice to try the first one, I activate my disease again and I am off to the races! It hits my brain that thinks it needs more to survive.Hence the saying, one is too many and a thousand is never enough.Wish you would educate yourself about this disease and stop perpetuating the lies about it. You are excatly why people are afraid to get help. They think everyone feels like you do, because the people in 12 step programs keep quiet about their recovery. It’s ok to be the drunk at a party, not ok to be the recovering alcoholic? NOW THAT IS CRAP!

      Reply
    • Kate February 7, 2014 at 6:17 am

      The only load of crap is your response. Did you even read the article? You’re coming from a place of extremely limited knowledge my friend.

      Reply
  328. kate February 6, 2014 at 7:41 pm

    I used FB to post this article forward when the news came out about Hoffman. And I’m now feeling really sad. I’m British(well Scottish actually) and our ‘across the pond’ differences make me laugh (I loved watching Friends with my young daughter and now she’s all grown up I still laugh with her at “Everybody Loves Raymond.” )So I do realise that this is a mainly American site and our views may be very different,However I feel I have every right to rant if I want. I grew up in a very happy family,I was apparently a child genius. I didn’t touch a drink until I was 22 – well,the occassional glass of wine maybe) by which time I was studying music at one of the top colleges in Britain. One of my peers was getting into trouble for drinking at lunchtime and might lose his place. My response? “Don’t understand it. Why doesn’t he just not DO it?” Little did I know I’d end up having the same nightmare. People who have never had the addiction may never understand,but if even one of their nearest or dearest is in trouble they’d better start doing their research quick.

    Reply
    • shannon February 6, 2014 at 7:56 pm

      I don’t think we are that different after all. Please do not take some of the callous remarks here as a comprehensive view of Americans. And lol…Friends and Everybody Loves Raymond are, although funny shows, not a realistic view either. Every household is different. I like the ending to your post, People who have never had the addiction may never understand,but if even one of their nearest or dearest is in trouble they’d better start doing their research quick.” Amen, amen.

      Reply
  329. lcat February 6, 2014 at 8:39 pm

    Thank you for writing this. Regardless of what anyone says above, I very recently lost my brother, only in his mid 20′s, to an accidental overdose-just over a month ago. He was a kind, gentle, generous man and fought his addiction to painkillers with every ounce that he had-psychiatry, rehab, therapists, outpatient groups, NA. He had many issues, particularly chronic severe arthritis in his knees from high school football injuries, and personal difficulties at home that were no fault of his own but weighed heavily on him nonetheless. Not to mention he was suffering from bipolar disease. He loved me, and he loved everyone in my family, and every one of his many friends, and to call him selfish while he was in the throes of a horrible disease just makes me physically sick. Everyone has a right to their opinion and I respect that, but when you comment on this thread, just remember the number of people out there who fight this every day, and many like myself who are mourning the loss of someone to this very real disease before you make any judgments. I have to live with his death and the loss of my brother and best friend every day. And the word “selfish” with regards to what happened to him has never once crossed my mind. If I don’t think he’s selfish, no one else has the right to make that judgment either. So please think twice- Addicts and their families alike are hurting, and we just need to be careful about throwing the word “selfish” around so freely. If it it was as simple as selfishness, then people like my brother, or PSH might still be here today.

    Reply
    • Mkang February 6, 2014 at 9:20 pm

      Love this response: lcat -
      you are spot on and I do not care what others say.

      I am with you 500%, Great note to others.. Thank you for this. I appreciate what you said, even if no one else has the intellect to know what you are talking about what you wrote about IS true.

      Luv 2 U. Hold on, as I do….

      Reply
  330. Natalie February 6, 2014 at 10:29 pm

    Very well written. Thank you for your empathy.

    Reply
  331. C.A. February 6, 2014 at 11:13 pm

    I’m appalled to see so many ‘experts’ on addiction commenting here, when in truth there isn’t single one in the world. Many of you have great insight into these pains and pathologies, and my heart goes out to you, for your stories of immense sadness and nuance, and I both offer my deepest sorrow for the horrors you and/or your loved ones have gone through.

    Others, who insist all is willpower, seem to betray a need for moral justice in addiction, whereas that probably is not the truth–there is neither evidence or a credible theory that supports such a theory of addiction, though willpower is certainly usually a necessary component in finding a solution.

    However, the point MUST be made that, in this stage of human science: biology, psychiatry and other medical science, and neuroscience (possibly the most promising subfield), the nature of addiction (and mood disorders) is very poorly understood. To use the metaphor one honest (and very talented psychiatrist who had a gig as the head of the mood disorders program at the McKlean Hospital, associated with Harvard Medical School), psychiatry is still in a dark ages of leeches and bloodletting. We must keep in mind that, for those who thing they know all because they’ve had an addiction experience, every person’s psychochemistry is affected differently by different substances–this is not a controversial statement. Thus, it’s estimated that 13% (a different mood disorders specialist told me), are genetically predisposed to be severely at risk for addiction to opiates in particular (that’s heroine, but also oxycodone, morphine and others), while most of the population will gain little or no mood benefit and certainly have no problem going on or off the drugs. Similarly, a study in South America indicated that only 16% of cocaine users are at risk of long term addiction (but boy, do they get addicted–and other research shows that cocaine activates genes associated with reward reinforcement and addiction when it enters your brain).

    The media is often less than helpful in explaining any of this–rather, sensationalism gets better ratings. It’s not commonly known that Heath Ledger almost certainly died attempting to go to sleep–modern sleep medicines are not dangerous alone (I’ve helped deal with overdose cases)–but when combined, and as I remember, he took four, including several benzodiazepines, pseudobenzodiazepines like ambient (they hit the same targets in the bran) and, critically, pain pills–an act of desperation from someone whose judgment was compromised by the fact he’d already taken too many damn drugs for the night, but a drug class that many patients are aware can be highly effective in inducing sleep (the prototype drug, morphine, is named for the god of sleep)–but also dangerously reduces respiration when combined with other medications. And so he stopped breathing almost completely, enough to cause brain damage and put him in a fatal coma. But the press in their reports couldn’t be bothered to do more than google the medications in his system before reporting the case, it seems, as they reported the benzodiazepines as ‘used for anxiety’ which they are also…managing to miss the point the presumed fundamental nature of the overdose (we can’t know–it’s merely the obvious conclusion when a patient with known sleeping difficulties and multiple related prescriptions piles them, one on top of another, through half the night, probably in an irrational effort to make sure he’d had at least some sleep before undergoing another 14 hour day on a New York film set). But I digress (and speculate, even if the conclusion is the obvious presumption). The point is that the press didn’t do its homework and report, within the next week or so (or ever), the dangers of relying on crude sleeping medications that cause resistance to their effects and are still liable to be fatal when combined with other medications.

    There’s not much to say, in conclusion, other than to be careful not to generalize your own experience (or your cousin’s) onto someone who’s just died. Again, every pyschopharmaceutical affects each person’s mind differently, and they are unfortunately crude tools to be doing the job we ask of them–but just because you were ‘a man’ and dealt with your drinking problem (my congratulations to such people, by the way) does not mean you understand the horror someone addicted to opiates goes through. Neither the physical and psychological addiction caused by heroine or morphine are comparable, but are almost infinitely worse, for those genetically vulnerable to them. I find the arrogance and lack of empathy among many posters here horrifying–you know nothing of what you’re speaking of, whether you use the word ‘disease’ or not. Life is not a morality play.

    Reply
    • shannon February 6, 2014 at 11:32 pm

      Thank you! Very well put. Compassion and empathy are needed. The addict comes to recovery often in desperation and totally defeated. If they live long enough to make it there.

      Reply
  332. Veronica Witting February 6, 2014 at 11:25 pm

    I wanted to comment on a post by Mother of an Addict. I am the mother of one. And the poster summed up my life: ” addiction will break down the loved ones long before it breaks down the addict.”

    Selfish, not selfish, I dont know. All I know is that he, my son, has been happily or not so happily using, with complete disregard to everyone else’s life, finances. What causes addiction? It was already there? Genetic? Trauma? ALL I know is that it has never occurred to me when I met adversities, even tragedies in my life to try any kind of drug. I saw a documentary when i was 17 about a heroine addict- fast forward photos from age 23 to 29, before she died. That terrified me to the extend that I Iiterally left any party if someone smoked as much as a a joint. I got scared into never trying drugs and thus, I conquered most difficulties in my life without them. And what did I get? An ADDICT whose behavior destroyed everything I built.
    Dont tell me Alanon. I tried. How am I going to rebuild my life and find “happiness”? I spent 40 years trying to build a good life and raise children to be independent. Now I have nothing.

    Reply
  333. C.A. February 6, 2014 at 11:32 pm

    I’ll just add that I’m still appalled by the claimed ‘expertise’ on this page regarding things the greatest minds in cognitive science and medicine are just beginning to understand–and how these people just ‘know’ truths that, say, according to one poster, mood disorders (which are the reason man addicts first seek drugs of whatever sort for relief) are ‘also caused by narcissism (this statement followed a claim that addiction was caused by narcissism as well). Perhaps you’re aware that some addicts commit no crimes or other antisocial behavior, and treat other people decently? You may also be interested to hear that modern science and medicine has no ‘narcissism hypothesis of depression’ (I have a relative who’s an expert in such research. I checked). Many people, who friends, relatives and colleagues will testify have always been generous and humble–sometimes to a fault–lose the ability to feel pleasure entirely (a very severe depressive symptom, one people sometimes turn to medications, then controlled drugs, in their desperation to try to feel again).

    The human mind is complex, and we do not yet understand how or why it malfunctions so horribly. We can only, at this time, be humble, and give our thoughts and prayers to Mr Hoffman and his broken family–while perhaps trying to understand the level of horror he may have been going through emotionally (the number of packets of heroine he bought suggests, to me, a possibly deliberate suicide, which (I apologize for the speculation) would seem most likely to have been brought on by a flood of negative emotion so horrible it overwhelmed his rational mind; after all, he clearly had done good work and had much to live for. Thoughts, prayers and wishes for he and his, and please understand I offer my speculations about his situation mostly to show how little we know, and how little a normal person may understand of such things. Too, I congratulate Mr. Hoffman for overcoming his demons for more than half-a-lifetime.

    Reply
  334. Patrick February 6, 2014 at 11:40 pm

    A [w]holistic systemic approach to caring for addicts is what needs to be brought into focus in addiction therapy. We are taught to define everything according to our brains and consciousness, yet the mind is affected by this illness as much if not more than the body (and the mind ought to counted indiscriminately as merely another essential part of the body). These people are characterized at victims of their own free will. It’s an epidemic! Addiction is literally smarter and definitely more persistent than even the brightest and most talented of those afflicted. Dismissal of addicts to shamefully fend for themselves is the current norm. This could be better.

    Reply
  335. C.A. February 6, 2014 at 11:44 pm

    Veronika,
    I’m terribly sorry for your losses. May I suggest that the closest thing we have to an answer for you may lie in investing in neuroscientific and medical research in order to understand the mechanisms of dependence and addiction (they are different–addiction is much worse). The more we understand (and we understand so little), the better decisions we can make about, say, whether or not it’s safe to give a certain patient ‘pain pills.’ Perhaps, in a generation or two, a DNA test will be able to tell us with substantial accuracy what classes of medications any given patient is in danger of being addicted to.

    In lieu of that, I can only suggest better education about nicotine and opiates (like heroine): by far the two most addictive drugs known to man, something most people are not aware of.

    It would also help if better antidepressants were available. Those we have now are slow, weak, unhelpful for many patients, and notoriously heavy on side-effects. People shouldn’t be taking heroine to feel better–and they wouldn’t have to if we’d done a better job of developing drugs to treat major depression and bipolar disorder. The failure rate of these drug classes is a huge problem with tragic consequences.

    Reply
  336. Selfish February 7, 2014 at 4:49 am

    Wha

    Reply
  337. MomMN February 7, 2014 at 6:53 am

    Adam Fine- You touched my heart with your unconditional love for your brother. You helped me understand how to see my son from a different view, in turn I will share with my family.
    It is so painful to watch a gentle soul in pain and doing things that are self destructive. And not being able to truly understand why, as it is not one thing, one diagnosis one can provide to explain it to ourselves or others. Then hearing and feeling the self righteous judgments of others at times for our loved ones and our families.
    If only the world were as gentle and loving as your brother and my son:)
    I am so sorry for the loss of your brother.

    Reply
  338. Pingback: A Note About Philip Seymour Hoffman: Addiction Is Not Selfish! | So Sue Me

  339. rubylee February 7, 2014 at 8:08 am

    There is a spiritual solution for those who seek it, no matter how sick one has become. Peace.

    Reply
  340. kat February 7, 2014 at 10:21 am

    i thank you for this article. I am sure that the FIRST reaction to the loss (death, separation, divorce, disappearance, disconnection–whatever loss to those affected) of a friend or a family member of an addict, is anger, the thought of what their actions have done to those who love them is , “how selfish”… but the truth or at least my truth… is took me a while to realize that the addict in my life did love me, did want to make things right, and did not like what he was doing to me, his family, and yes, to himself. It may all appear to be a selfish act on from the outside looking in, but I took the time to love from the inside out and I can tell you that the act, the choice may be selfish, but “addiction” has a life and agenda of it’s own, and that is to destroy the addict. I may not be a drug, sex, or alcohol addict, but for me my poison is sugar and is it selfish that I may wind up with diabetes because I chose not to watch what I eat? No, it’s a choice and people wouldn’t tell me, Kat, you’re a selfish person because now we have to deal with your issues because you made bad food choices. Me and my addict are not together anymore and although he didn’t die or kill himself, it was a grand loss to me… it affected me, my family and the very me I am today. I don’t believe what happened to Philip was selfish. I’m sure he didn’t want to die. I do feel badly for those around him who will miss him. Just my thoughts…

    Reply
  341. Pingback: Another Week Ends: Hoffman and Addiction, Parenting Confessionals, Harris v Haidt, Trite Apologies, Super Bowl Commercials and Transform(ers)ational Ministry | Mockingbird

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  344. ROXY February 9, 2014 at 4:54 am

    I CHOSE NOT TO DO HEROIN BECAUSE I WAS SCARED I MIGHT DIE!!! I CHOSE NOT TO DO METH BECAUSE I WAS SCARED I MIGHT DIE!! I DON’T DO CRACK BECAUSE I AM SCARED I MIGHT DIE I CHOSE NOT TO POP PILLS BECAUSE I WAS SCARED I MIGHT DIE!!!

    Reply
  345. ROXY February 9, 2014 at 4:59 am

    I MADE THESE CHOICES SO I WOULD NOT GET ADDICTED !!

    Reply
    • Kate February 10, 2014 at 5:12 pm

      Good for you Roxy….a simple plan that should work for everyone, right? Except it doesn’t. It’s a little more complicated than “just say no.” The battleground is in the head. And it doesn’t matter how poor or well off one is. It is a compulsion to find ways to numb pain.

      It really is offensive when people like you make banal comments like this. And it shows a glaring ignorance, not to mention a lack of humanity. It’s a nightmarish problem for the families and friends of the addict and even more so for the addict him/herself.

      If this is something you are interested in talking about, then educate yourself on the problem of addiction. Otherwise you’re blowing in the wind. Your lack of insight is astounding.

      Reply
  346. cowgirl February 10, 2014 at 1:32 pm

    I am so pleased my friend sent me this link.

    I have to say that my addiction almost cost me my life. I was married to an alcoholic who gave me the power to keep him on the straight and narrow. He was a kind soul and my best friend. We did great things in life for 20 years. Then his disease took over. For 8 years I battled his disease with no success. He didn’t seem to care anymore. It caused me so much pain to see him in pain, and then drink more and more to cover it up. I tried everything humanly possible to love, support, educate him, and he didn’t care. I ended up getting so sick from stress, lost 30 lbs, ended up with multiple auto immune diseases, fell into deep depression etc. I hit bottom, kicked him out and seeked help.

    To stay with a man in the throws of active alcoholism was an eventual death to ME.

    My addiction was compassion. Do I have great compassion and empathy for addiction….absolutely! But I found out I was suffering from my own sickness. The need somehow to help, and in doing so, completely unable to help myself. This is the hardest thing I have ever done. It has been 5 years in recovery and I still find my ex trying to hold my head under water…Somehow, every day I find the strength to swim to the top and take a deep long breath. The loss of him and everything he is still trying to take from me is overwhelming. The guilt I felt at closing the door on someone who was so sick almost killed me. His defamation on my character, the horrible things he has said and done….ring in my ears 24/7 and awake me in the form of nightmares. I know who he is way deep inside, but that man is probably gone forever…His addiction is stronger than him.

    Do I think addiction is selfish….Fucking right! YES.
    He was a self centered individual even when his disease was inactive. I loved myself enough at the time so this rarely bothered me.

    Reply
    • shannon February 10, 2014 at 2:27 pm

      Sounds to me that you are still giving your addict(ion) all your power. You say that addiction is selfish…and you call yourself an addict? What does that say about you and your addiction? You have to take responsibility and admit you are powerless over your addiction and that your life is unmanageable. First step…for a reason. I, too…was addicted to an addict. I divorced him, he burned my house down. I did not take responsibility…I played myself off (it was easy to do) as the “noble, wronged one” and not 5 years later I found myself as the addict…drugs…yep, I was not immune. I have years clean now, and heard myself in you. You are still playing the victim, and will not get better until you take personal responsibility for your part. You are not the victim anymore…now you are just the volunteer.

      Reply
  347. cowgirl February 10, 2014 at 3:03 pm

    Shannon, maybe you misunderstood me. I know I am powerless over my addiction. This is why I seeked professional help. I made changes within myself so I could let my addict go. You should know full well the consequences in the decision to save your own life.

    My part in the relationship was wanting a balanced, secure,healthy life and imposing my will on another that had different priorities. So he begged me to let him go to drugs, sex and rock and roll (his words), so I let him go and filed for divorce. You should know that if you think it was hard to live with an active alcoholic, try divorcing one. Then you want to see selfishness rear its ugly head!

    How am I the victim for wanting to sever ties and get on and rebuild my life?

    I have been screaming out to anyone that will listen….I am in recovery….do you know what this means? It’s like an alcoholic that wants recovery more than anything in the world, and his loved ones just keep pushing alcohol in front of him, making it hard on him, threatening him, blaming him. Isn’t that insane?

    Trust me when I say I have forgiven myself, that I didn’t have the tools to make healthy decisions for myself. It is only when we educate ourselves of the fact that we can take control of our own destiny and make choices for our own outcomes. I will always choose “LIFE”

    Reply
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  351. Isabel February 17, 2014 at 1:22 am

    Addiction is a cry for help, its an act of control over an out-of-control life, its a numbing escape solution to circumstances outside us that are beyond our control, its a love of the high. Addiction is the love of the high and the high becomes the center of our lives, the source of the high, our occupation. We can be addicted to many things, but some are devastating. If heroin was terrible, people wouldn’t do it. Its a seductive mistress that kills all its lovers. But God is greater than all of this. God says His people (all of us humans) perish because we do not ask Him for help. The time has come to take Jesus seriously. I hope many face the calling in their heart with courage, silently leaving the negativity behind and embracing the one and only true blue friend they have: Jesus Christ.

    Reply
  352. Steve March 19, 2014 at 12:01 am

    Bless you Isabel, for your words…. ‘the act of control over an out of control life’. Ive been addicted to many things in my 55 yr,s. Some mildly, some moderately, and one or two devastatingly.
    I know that I can do all things through Christ. I think sometimes some people need to do the wrong thing, in order to do the right thing…self dicipline is harder for some than others. Ive been sober for six months and everyday I ask God to help me leave the negativity behind. He does.

    Reply
  353. Jane April 1, 2014 at 6:31 am

    What you have not really addressed is the people surrounding the addict.They are part of the problem. I know it is complicated but I feel like more people should step up.We should be a more intervention oriented society.What is recovery all about anyway? Being part of a group,being connected to other people.You can’t do it alone.
    What I don’t get is why people didn’t do something.Maybe they did I don’t know. Maybe they couldn’t have saved him, but at least they could have tried.His wife kicked him out,knowing that he was just down the street–and the ship was going down.What about all his Hollywood friends? Maybe some tried to intervene,like I said,I don’t know.What he needed right quick was an intervention and to get back to rehab,straight away.Wasn’t he just there not too long ago?
    There was a video of Hoffman at Sundance recently with his co-stars—he looked terrible,overweight,puffy,bloated,pasty, etc.His face was super flushed,bright red compared to everyone else’s.It was obvious he was in bad shape. He looked really sickly.But everyone was just so—casual.
    It’s all fun and games for a while but eventually the drugs catch up with you and you end up looking like crap.It’s a physical thing too,not just mental.
    There were pics of him slumped over on an airplane,slumped over in a golf cart in an airport,being driven somewhere.(Should have been right to rehab—)
    That’s one thing I don’t get.An addict is out there loaded,acting crazy,sick as a dog,etc,etc and people just go about their business.
    Like I said, I know it’s complicated,but I think at some point his loved ones should have just stepped in and taken over.Forced him to go back to rehab.Who knows,maybe it could have saved his life.

    Reply
    • cowgirl April 1, 2014 at 9:55 pm

      Jane, unless you have been there, you truly will never be able to understand. The addict doesn’t think they need help. Their brains are so impaired and twisted and they think they are immune to whatever their drug of choice is.

      My ex husband was stronger than me, and his drug of choice was hard alcohol, which totally controlled him and was stronger than him.

      I tried everything to get him into rehab….He was very abusive and said I was the one with the problem.

      I tried contacting every close friend and saying he needs help NOW! None stepped up, they didn’t want to get involved. I contacted his family members one by one to have an intervention. None stepped up…That would have meant they would have to have a good strong look at themselves. So the whole world I knew was in denial (Except me).

      I was going to Alanon. I was contacting top rehab places and spending hours talking to addiction doctors. In the end, it is always the choice of the addict. Everyone was instructing me to save my own life, which is the path I eventually had to take.
      It is the most insane set of circumstances people will ever face in their life….if you loved an addict.

      Reply
  354. cowgirl April 1, 2014 at 10:01 pm

    Oh and Jane, I totally agree that in Canada anyways, our society needs a lot of work at taking away the stigma of addiction and mental illness. It is as real and as rampant as diabetes, aids, heart disease, cancer….but no one will talk about it. No one will step up for the addict and say ‘WHO CARES, this is going to kill you. It is a disease you need treatment for, just like any other disease” But the social stigma will not allow some people to ever come out of denial. It is a character flaw, that they are so ego driven, and the fear of the stigma surrounding such disease.

    Calling all addicts……..You have a disease!!!! Get treatment and let your loved ones love and support you as they are meant to do, willing to do…..

    Reply
  355. Pingback: Philip Seymour Hoffman, the overdose of an addict

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