News of the tragic death of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman, due to an apparent heroine overdose, flooded social media channels and news outlets this month.
And the conversation continues. Most notably -- and sadly -- Seymour had remained sober for several decades and was a devoted father and Academy Award-winning actor. His recent portrayal of Plutarch in the popular The Hunger Games: Catching Fire film brought him increased notoriety among teens, including my own.
Hoffman reportedly said he'd "fallen off the wagon" this past year and slipped back into his addiction. Were there signs that he was crying out for help? The media is now trying to piece together those details.
Addiction specialist Dr. Drew Pinsky explains America's "most neglected disease" from the point of view that shows the extremity of the problem, while offering little hope of complete recovery. He told CNN:
Someone with opiate addiction, they are doing pushups their whole lives. And they must work on it all the time. And even working on it, there's a high probability of relapse. And God willing, they get adequate treatment, and they re-engage in treatment, and things go well. But often, it's a frequently fatal condition. We just simply have to continually remind ourselves of that. And now it has taken a glorious, glorious talent from us.
Isn't it possible, though, to find a grain of hope that promises freedom from addictions -- of any kind?
Let's suppose it begins with your own internal dialogue. Not the inner critic that says you're worthless, helpless, alone, hopeless -- or even biological. That's not really you. But the voice that is full of encouragement and sees you for your spiritual identity, for what your Creator made you to be. That is the voice of Love that embraces you and comes softly, yet with powerful conviction. It's what "casts out destructive demons" and declares them untrue.
The thing is, you're never alone in these conversations. It's a dialogue, not a monologue. That dialogue takes place between you and Love -- a love far greater and more powerful than anything else, including the supposed power of a drug.
I shared ideas along these lines at a recent women's health seminar where I was a panelist speaking on the value of spirituality and prayer in health care. Afterwards, a young woman from the audience approached me. She said she'd been working on kicking her smoking addiction. She explained that during her long commutes to work she'd been having conversations with herself. They were helpful, but then she stopped having them, thinking they were just monologues.
During my talk she realized those conversations weren't positive self-talk mechanisms, but more in line with prayer and her unique connection to spiritual intuition. She now felt encouraged and confident that she could move beyond the smoking addiction.
There's no need to adopt a "no solution" mentality when it comes to addiction. What if, instead, everything begins and ends with the power of Love to heal and transform? I think it does.
Need help with substance abuse or mental health issues? In the U.S., call 800-662-HELP (4357) for the SAMHSA National Helpline.