The recent news of Philip Seymour Hoffman's heroin-related death was no different for me. I don't really care that Hoffman died with a syringe in his arm. My eyes scan these stories looking for the little people -- the kids left behind.
Alcohol is a form of cheap grace, as are all drugs. What we addicts really yearn for is a connection to God, alignment with the Holy, reunion with the Divine. It is a deeply spiritual hunger.
I never thought the Bible had anything to say about addiction. It's not something that I ever heard preached or read in the Bible.
I was on drugs back then: coke, booze, Xanax, anything I could get my hands on, really. It was 2002, and while Philip Seymour Hoffman's Hollywood career was skyrocketing, mine was a flameout from a jet engine careening backward down the wrong runway.
We are humbled by the difficulties associated with staying stable over the long haul and hope that we continue to change the conversation about this problem from that of stigma to growth, from deficits to strengths and from shame to pride.
Tonight on PBS, I have an open and transparent conversation with award-winning actress and best-selling children's author Jamie Lee Curtis. The star candidly discusses her personal struggle with addiction and her 15 years of sobriety, among other things.
Last Sunday delivered a swinging pendulum of emotions. On one extreme was Seattle's stirring Super Bowl trouncing of Denver. In addition to what I'm told was good defense, it turns out that one of the Seahawks' not-so-secret weapons was yoga and meditation. Coach Pete Carroll had wondered what effect building an organization that "really cared about each and every individual" would have on his team's chances. Question answered. On the darker side of the ledger was Philip Seymour Hoffman's tragic death. He captured the public imagination both in life, where he found the full humanity of every character he played, and in his death, which crystallized the growing sense that something is very wrong in a culture rife with addiction. Indeed, from 1999 to 2012, drug overdoses skyrocketed 102 percent, and became the leading cause of injury or death. There's no easy fix, but connecting with the empathy to be found in Hoffman's on-screen legacy is a start.
When I was newly sober, Phil was part of a crew of my closest friends. I cannot overstate how much each person in that group meant to me, then and now; we were part of a greater thing, and we all helped each other whether it was deliberate or not.
This week share a little of your sane world, your easy manner or your safe space with that kid. You probably already know who they are.
I have witnessed just how close-minded some people can be when it comes to addiction, and combined with the passing of Philip Seymour Hoffman, it only drives me to keep pushing to raise awareness.
The discourse surrounding addicts and their culpability in their addiction is remarkably similar to the discourse surrounding the poor and their culpability in their poverty. Believing an addict is to blame for their addiction is a fundamentally conservative philosophy.
Drug addiction isn't just about the pleasure of getting high. It is also the story of untreated depression and mental illness. Through his career, Hoffman battled doubts and depression.
Too often, the people who use drugs are invisible or worse they are stigmatized and demonized as "junkies," "addicts," and "criminals." Drug users are "others" to be held in stark contrast to the rest of "us."
One of the primary functions of religion is to help us live in the present, that is to stop and immerse in the power of the moment. One of the other functions is to pull us out of the moment to see the bigger picture.
Are we all walking the same razor's edge, only one injection away from heroin addiction? Or could some of us sample heroin and decide to pass it up as easily as we might pass up a second piece of pie? Can addicts ever really be cured? What is the reporting telling us?
Whatever motivates us to blame and dehumanize an addicted person, it is a cultural view that must be shifted.