February 3

Philip Seymour Hoffman’s death ‘epitomizes tragedy of drug addiction’

It’s not clear what triggered the actor’s return to drugs or whether he was still receiving treatment after a stint in rehab last year.

By Sandy Cohen
The Associated Press

(Continued from page 1)

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Phillip Seymour Hoffman poses for a portrait during the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, last month. Hoffman was found dead in his New York apartment Sunday.

The Associated Press/Invision/Victoria Will

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Director Anton Corbijn, who was with Hoffman at the Sundance Film Festival last month to promote the film "A Most Wanted Man," said Hoffman's death "came as much as a shock to me as to anyone else I'd imagine." He said that when he spent time with the actor two weeks ago, he "seemed in a good place despite some issues he had to deal with," but Corbijn did not elaborate.

Hoffman spoke to The Associated Press about the film at the festival, where he was dogged by paparazzi but otherwise calm. The actor, who could transform so convincingly into such varied characters on stage and screen, was generally a private person — something he said went with the job.

"If they start watching me (in roles) and thinking about the fact that I got a divorce or something in my real life, or these things, I don't think I'm doing my job," he said in the "60 Minutes" interview. "You don't want people to know everything about your personal life, or they're gonna project that also on the work you do."

Because addiction has a genetic predisposition, celebrities are as likely as anyone else to suffer, though working in a field that may be more tolerant of drug use can increase a person's chances.

"Addiction does not discriminate, the same way high blood pressure and diabetes do not discriminate," Mohammad said, adding that 100 people die in the U.S. each day from drug overdoses. Those numbers are increasingly fueled by prescription painkillers, which tend to be opiates, like heroin.

Recovery from drug addiction is possible with treatment, lifestyle changes and awareness, doctors say. They may recommend inpatient rehabilitation for up to six months, followed by ongoing therapy and self-help meetings, such as those offered by 12-step programs. While intensity and type of treatment vary according to individual needs, Volkow said continuous treatment over five years has yielded the best results in studies so far.

"Continuity of care improves outcomes for individuals who are addicted to drugs," she said, adding that it can be a "graded approach" that changes with time. "But you need continued awareness of the possibility of relapse. No matter how long you've been clean, if you take the drug, you're at high, high risk of relapse."

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