Philip Seymour Hoffman

The news of Philip Seymour Hoffman’s death today of a suspected drug overdose made me really angry. Angry because I’m tired of seeing young, talented members of society- famous or not- being lured and succumbing to the destructive grasps of drugs. Whether prescription or illegal a drug is a drug and should be seen as such. I don’t buy into the whole recreational drug culture. It’s not safe no matter how you try to explain it and justify it to me or yourself.

Here’s just a short list of talented entertainers who have battled with their drug addictions and lost – River Phoenix, Heath Ledger, Anna Nicole Smith, Corey Haim, Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Brittany Murphy, Dana Plato, Amy Winehouse, Paula Yates… and the list goes on.

I’m not going to sit here and preach to you about the dangers of drugs and the way they can destroy lives and families. But I am going to tell you about the examples I’ve seen in my own circle. Not Hollywood stars and celebrities but real life people with wives, husbands and children. There are many reasons why someone will turn to drugs- peer group pressure, depression, boredom or escapism. Whatever your drug of choice may be the outcome you seek is usually the same- to alter the way you feel. Depressed? Take a pill. Partying and want to party harder? Take a pill. Or sniff something. Or smoke it. Or drink it. Whatever you take, it will alter you- short term or long term. The difference is that some people can avoid being consumed by the drug while others are helpless in resisting. Now I’m no doctor so I can’t tell you why this happens in some people and not everyone- but I do know what I’ve seen. Grown men with wives and children experimenting with drugs only to find that they are no longer the ones in control. The drug now controls them. Men in their 40’s going through some kind of mid life crisis and wanting to feel young again so they go and sleep around, buy a sports car and start snorting cocaine. Oh yeah- you’ll feel young again, cause you’ll soon be so incapable of looking after yourself that someone else will need to do it for you.

I don’t know what the answer is, or why I’ve always been so anti drugs- but I do recall when I was around 11 years old being taken to listen to a heroin addict talk about what the drug had done to her (I’m a child of the 80’s so I grew up with the Just Say No campaigns). I remember her sitting up there on stage on a chair looking skeletal with hollowed out eyes and sallow skin. In fact if I close my eyes now I can still see her in front of me. A truly terrifying image for a young child to see. So terrifying in fact that it pretty much kept me away from drugs all my life.

For me there is no grey area when it comes to drug taking. If you like to experiment with drugs and tell yourself that you’re in control- well I hope that’s true. But I’m sure that’s what so many others were telling themselves too as they stuck that needle into their arm. Just say no. X

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