The recent death of Academy Award-winning actor Philip Seymour Hoffman demonstrates some of the challenges we face in this country. Hoffman, 46, played roles in Capote, Magnolia, Almost Famous, Hunger Games, Mission Impossible, and Charlie Wilson’s War.
He was found dead Sunday, Feb. 2, in his T-shirt and shorts with a needle in his left arm. Depending on what report one reads, also found were anywhere from several to seventy bags of heroin — in his $10,000-a-month Manhattan apartment. He is reported to have told his friends before Christmas: “If I don’t stop [using heroin] now, I know I’m going to die.”
In an Associated Press article on Hoffman’s death, Meghan Bass wrote: “News of the death of Oscar-winning actor Philip Seymour Hoffman from an apparent heroin overdose seemed like an echo from the past, a blurry memory of a dangerous drug that dwelt in some dark recess of American culture.
“But heroin never really disappeared. It surfaces in waves, with the latest one currently stretching across the nation, driving up overdose deaths and sparking widespread worry among government officials. Fueled by a crackdown on prescription painkillers and an abundant supply of cheap heroin that’s more potent than ever, the drug that has killed famous rock stars and everyday Americans alike is making headlines again.
“More than 660,000 Americans used heroin in 2012, health officials say – nearly double the number from five years earlier – and users tend to be more affluent than before, living in the suburbs and rural areas rather than the inner city.”
Others who interviewed his alleged drug dealer conjecture that Hoffman had a “hard-core” addiction and injected twice as much heroin per day as a typical addict. That could have amounted to ten bags of heroin every day.
The questions this story begs in my mind include:
- What are the primary causes of heroin addiction?
- Who are the “hard-core” heroin addicts in America?
- Do I know any of them? If so, I don’t know that I know them.
- What can we as individuals or as a church do to help those already addicted?
- Perhaps even more importantly, what can we do to prevent such addiction and its demonic consequences from attacking young and not-so-young people in America and beyond, including people we know and love?
Pastors, church leaders, civic organizations and governmental officials at every level would do well to put these questions on their agendas, prayerfully and powerfully finding answers to an obviously complex and difficult dilemma!