Haymarket Center

What Philip Seymour Hoffman Teaches Us About Addiction

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The mission of Haymarket Center is to aid people with substance use disorders in their recovery by providing comprehensive behavioral health solutions.

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by Dan Lustig

When a celebrity overdoses, it is easy to make assumptions and blame the individual. He was personally flawed: selfish, weak. He could afford treatment, but instead he chose drugs.
Substance abuse facts counter these assumptions:

Drugs cause a physical change in the brain leading to compulsive, chronic drug abuse - addiction. While initial drug use is a choice, science tells us that it becomes less so. Chemical changes in the brain drive individuals to seek out and abuse more drugs.

Relapse is common. "Recovering addict" is a lifetime status and Mr. Hoffman was clean for 23 years before he relapsed. Because relapse is very much part of the disease progression, completing treatment can’t guarantee future sobriety. Treatment does greatly increase success rates particularly when specialized programs and supports are incorporated along with ongoing support groups. Maintaining attendance at support groups remain the biggest variable in ongoing recovery.

Addiction is a disease that is never cured and may return. Individuals may go into remission, but will not be cured. Like any other chronic health care condition.

  • An organ transplant recipient is not 'cured.' The permanent physical change to their body requires care for their remaining lifetime.
  • Drug addiction causes physical changes in the brain that must be addressed for life. A relapse simply signals new treatment is needed because it’s a disease.

We CAN increase successful addiction treatment and recovery:

Let go of stereotypes. Understanding that addiction can affect anyone removes the stigma of seeking treatment. In Chicago’s west suburban DuPage County, 46 heroin overdose deaths in 2013 represent a nearly 60% increase over the 29 in 2008.

Demand evidence-based treatment programs developed using scientific methods with their effectiveness validated by patient outcomes. Only one-third of all national substance abuse treatment programs are evidence-based. All Haymarket Programs and Services are evidence-based.

Educate children about prescription drug abuse. After marijuana, prescription and OTC medicines are the most commonly abused drugs among 12th graders. Prescription painkiller overdose deaths have quadrupled since 1999 and now outnumber those from heroin and cocaine combined. Dispose of old prescriptions.

Detox and recovery treatment, not just incarceration. Having a disease is not a crime. Needing to support a drug dependency can lead to criminal behavior. So why not prevent crime by treating addicts?

Addiction touches all of our lives. There were 21.5 million Americans, 18 years and older, abusing drugs in 2012. Sixty-eight percent of those, 14.6 million, were employed. They could be your co- worker, bus driver, kid’s daycare worker or the family doctor. Wouldn’t you like them all to be sober and in recovery?


Dr. Dan Lustig is Haymarket's VP of Clinical Services and a nationally recognized Substance Abuse Speaker with over 20 years’ experience in the field of alcohol and substance abuse treatment and recovery. With expertise encompassing clinical services, intervention research and psychological counseling, he is a Certified Substance Abuse Counselor (CADC) with treatment certification for mentally ill substance abusers (MISA II). Contact Dr. Lustig to present at your school or group.

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