Feeling the Pain of the Rich and Famous

Apparently actor Philip Seymour Hoffman died. He ROCKED “Capote,” but hell, I liked him as far back as “Boogie Nights.”

There seems to be some doubt about his death:

Yep, dead: Philip Seymour Hoffman found dead with needle in arm

Nope, alive: Philip Seymour Hoffman Death Hoax

… but his Wikipedia page lists him as deceased, so I’m going with that.

Considering it a “teachable moment,” I said something unflattering about Whitney Houston back when she died of an overdose: “Whitney, you idiot.”


Well, yes I do. Everybody does. Nobody has a lock on pain. Everybody loses people, loses life opportunities, goes through agonizing shit at some point in their lives, or all their lives. I went through years of abuse, and I’ve lost people who meant more to me than I can ever express. Just like everybody else.

No, dear shrieker, my pain isn’t the same as yours, but don’t ever imagine it’s less intense, less hurtful to me. Don’t you dare say that.

Besides which, I wasn’t – and am not now – talking to addicts. I’m talking to all those people who are NOT addicts, the ones who are not yet users.

To them I say: Drugs don’t help. They don’t solve anything, they don’t improve anything. And no matter what the people around you are doing, you can live your whole life without them, and never miss them. Millions of people do.

I work with drug and alcohol abusers. I’m not a counselor or therapist, but I do get to see and talk to the demographic pretty much every day. And damn … it’s disturbing as hell to see what drugs do to people. Looks to me like they make you feel good – temporarily, VERY temporarily – while they suck every last drop of real goodness out of you, destroying every positive thing about living until nothing is left, not even the “living” part.

According to the users I’ve spoken to, it’s s0000o goddam easy to slide down into it, but you never really get out. Even if you stop using, even if you “beat” addiction, you will never be free. The rest of your life will include all the struggles that other people go through, but added on will be this additional struggle, the struggle to stay clean and sober. For the rest of your life you’ll walk around with this evil monkey whispering in your ear, “C’mon, it’s not that bad. You remember how good we used to have it. Just a taste won’t hurt. Besides, your Gramma died, and your car won’t start. You’re devastated. There’s no way you can cope with all this. No human can. Let’s have just a little bit to get through the next few days, then you’ll feel all better and you’ll never have to touch the stuff again.”

All of you out there considering trying the substance du jour, it’s probably a really good idea if you don’t. If a rich, famous person can get hooked and die in this stupid, futile way, don’t think for a second YOU will beat the odds and get some better result.

So I say again, with the name of a different victim: Philip, you idiot.



And no, I’m not talking about pot. But I don’t think that’s a good idea either.



  • Smarter than Your Average Bear

    Yup understand that perfectly Hank – with me it’s Rum – other’s it’s smack or some other drug. You never stop fighting it but the fight is better than the slide.

  • And not just individuals.

    Anne Wilson Schaef (1988) When Society Becomes an Addict. HarperOne. amazon.com/Society-Becomes-Addict-Wilson-Schaef/dp/0062548549

  • I don’t think “You idiot” is the appropriate response.

    Is he an idiot for ever having tried the drug? Is anyone who has ever had a drink or smoked a joint an idiot? Is the non-smoking teetotaler who spends every day holed up in his room the only rational person?

    Is he an idiot for having gotten addicted to the drug? As you say so well in your post, the slide happens so easily, the drug so insidious, and some people so susceptible, that “idiocy” hardly seems to apply.

    Is he an idiot for taking an overdose? I think by the time one reaches that stage there is so little rationality left, the mind is so overtaken by the influence of the drug, that the overdose can hardly be called a choice.

    So, no, not “Philip, you idiot,” but “Philip, you poor unfortunate sod.”

    • Hank Fox

      “You poor unfortunate sod” is precisely the opposite of what I’m attempting to convey here.

      I’m not talking to Philip Seymour Hoffmann, after all — he’s dead. I’m talking to all those who are not yet addicts, all those who have not yet tried drugs, and might benefit from a few properly negative role models.

      Something that tells them EARLY: This is dangerous as hell. You’re stupid to try it. If this rich and famous guy can die with a needle in his arm, you can too. And your death will be just as pathetic, senseless and dumb.

      • Jeff

        So you’re saying “Philip, you idiot” to….. not-Philip? Your word choice here doesn’t really make any sense.

        • Hank Fox

          Think of it as a bit of acting. An actor might be talking TO Julius Caesar, but he’s talking FOR the audience.

  • wtfwjtd

    I grew up in a highly religious family, and one of the tenets of this upbringing was a strict avoidance and demonization of alcohol use. Though I have long since discarded the baggage in my life associated with religious belief and its attendant nonsense, the strict avoidance of alcohol was one of the few things I decided to keep. I have learned that, unfortunately, my family history is rife with a serious, multi-generational problem of alcoholism and substance abuse. (Have you ever noticed how that religious fanaticism and alcoholism seem to go together?)

    After watching the lives of numerous close family members fall apart due to substance abuse, I figure it’s something I can live without. So, in my case at least, there are sound scientific and cultural reasons to avoid addictive substances, and your post is a good reminder of that. Thanks!