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Kick the addiction: celebs, syringes and society

By Michelle CannizzoColumnist

At the young age of 46, academy award winner Philip Seymour Hoffman, passed away on February 2, 2014. The actor was found dead in his Greenwich Village apartment with a syringe still in his arm and an envelope of heroin close to his body.

Though Hoffman’s death was a shock to the public, perhaps even to his own friends and family, the cause of his death is not as surprising.

The actor had a history of drug and alcohol addictions. Just last year, he checked himself into a rehabilitation center for an addiction to prescription medication but was said to have turned back to heroin after his release.

Heroin is a highly addictive, highly dangerous analgesic drug that is created from morphine. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, heroin has developed into the most abused and rapidly acting of the opiate drugs.

The dangers that pertain to the drug include not only death by overdose, but also in how it is prepared by the dealer. It can be “cut” with substances like sugar or powdered milk, or with poisons like strychnine.

According to Forbes magazine, the quality of the drug has gone down, but the quantity of users has shot up, increasing by nearly 60 percent in the last decade. The U.S.  Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reported 156,000 new users in 2012, up from 90,000 in 2006.

Heroin addictions, as well as deaths, are nothing new in the media. So as Hoffman’s name makes headlines for all the wrong reasons, we are given yet another reminder of just how deadly this drug has the potential to be.

Having a hand in the deaths of multiple celebrities – Corey Monteith, Kurt Cobain, Jimi Hendrix – heroin has created a name for itself as a celebrity drug. But even though celebrities use it, people of the “monkey see, monkey do” school of thought should not assume that heroin is the right thing to do.

If you or anyone that you know is suffering from heroin abuse, don’t follow their example; seek help through support groups and rehabilitation. The death of Hoffman is a sad occurrence, but we must use it as a way to help those who are still here battling this deadly addiction.



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