Philip Seymour Hoffman arrives for the Los Angeles premiere of 'The Hunger Games: Catching Fire' in Los Angeles, California, last November. Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images)
Philip Seymour Hoffman arrives for the Los Angeles premiere of ‘The Hunger Games: Catching Fire’ last November. Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images)

As I think pretty much everyone must know by now, the actor Philip Seymour Hoffman died Sunday, apparently of a heroin overdose. I was stunned when I found out, then deeply saddened when I read reports that he had told “60 Minutes” in 2006 that he had given up drugs and alcohol when he was 22 — “I got panicked for my life,” he told Steve Kroft. Hoffman relapsed last year.

But my sadness turned to a kind of cold fury when I saw too many comments on social media clucking disapproval for Hoffman’s “selfishness” and “poor choices.” (I’m not linking to them here; you can find them easily enough if you want to.) One friend on Facebook noted that another friend’s thread about Hoffman was the only one he’d seen acknowledging “the tragedy of his drug addiction.”

And, indeed, addiction is a disease. Dr. David Smith has treated thousands of addicts since he founded the Haight Ashbury Free Clinic in 1967. He talked to me about “battling an uninformed public.”

“Diabetes is a disease of the pancreas. Addiction is a disease of the brain,” he said. If you don’t think addiction is a disease, Smith said, “then take a laxative, sit on the toilet and try not to have a bowel movement.” Yes, a simplistic analogy, he said, “but effective.”

Smith told me about the “4 C’s of addiction” — craving, compulsion, loss of control and continued use in spite of bad consequences. “Craving is a signal,” Smith said, then added the worst thing an addict can do when craving is to isolate. Hoffman appears to have died alone, in a Greenwich Village apartment.

In a moving piece for The Guardian, the comedian and actor Russell Brand talked about the power of support — or “fellowships” — in battling his own craving for heroin. The whole piece is worth a read, but I’ll excerpt here:

Without these fellowships I would take drugs. Because, even now, the condition persists. Drugs and alcohol are not my problem, reality is my problem, drugs and alcohol are my solution.

If this seems odd to you it is because you are not an alcoholic or a drug addict. You are likely one of the 90% of people who can drink and use drugs safely. I have friends who can smoke weed, swill gin, even do crack and then merrily get on with their lives. For me, this is not an option. I will relinquish all else to ride that buzz to oblivion. Even if it began as a timid glass of chardonnay on a ponce’s yacht, it would end with me necking the bottle, swimming to shore and sprinting to Bethnal Green in search of a crack house. I look to drugs and booze to fill up a hole in me; unchecked, the call of the wild is too strong. I still survey streets for signs of the subterranean escapes that used to provide my sanctuary. I still eye the shuffling subclass of junkies and dealers, invisibly gliding between doorways through the gutters. I see that dereliction can survive in opulence; the abundantly wealthy with destitution in their stare.

Smith said that Hoffman’s death “shatters the myth that addiction is a lower socioeconomic disease.”

Learn more:

KQED’s Forum discusses Battling Drug Addiction Tuesday morning, Feb. 4. Listen Live at 9am.

Watch: Suburban Junkies, a look at young prescription drug addicts in California’s Orange County who turn to heroin for a cheaper high.

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What Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Tragic Death Teaches Us About Addiction 5 February,2014Lisa Aliferis

  • johnnycoyo

    This is the entire article ..really ?

    • Barbaramjx

      So with you on that. I was looking for something I could sink my teeth into, but all I got was tea. Moving on now….

    • Dan Cook

      No, look for the blue link that says “Whole Piece”.

      • johnnycoyo

        Yes ..i got it ..the redirect to the Brand article…i was referring to the the ‘California Report’ article above which was barely a paragraph or two …

  • Hayward

    I disagree. You make that first choice to use before there even is a craving knowing full well the consequences of your choice. “No sympathy for the devil. Buy the ticket, take the ride”. Would you be saying this about the junkie who is found with children suffering severe neglect due to their addiction? Screw that. You can make choices anywhere along the line. I know of numerous people who have overcome addiction to lead very healthy productive lives. This is just another example of our society not being able to take personal responsibility. And articles like this enable addicts to guilt trip their families who have spent countless years trying to hold them up by saying “oh it’s not my fault! I have a disease”. To quote South Park, “You wack the discipwin!”.

    • Shayne

      So naive Hayward….

    • ty111


    • Rick

      Hoffman overcame the addiction and led a clean life for 20 years. Your analysis is rather simplistic. “Personal responsibility” is the least relevant angle to take to solving a problem like this.
      You should know when you’re quoting a cartoon about 4th graders that your point might not be all that strong.

      • Realist

        Personal responsibility is the only relevant angle to take, to solve the problem of refusing to meet life’s challenges – pain, despair, heartbreak … there is not a living breathing human who does not endure pain and despair, from the moment they are born, until the moment they die … addiction has nothing to do with ‘how their brains are wired’, it has nothing to do with ‘disease’ (that said, even one toke causes some permanent brain ‘damage’ – but so does breathing … ). It has to do with personal responsibility … and until the addicted individual takes that personal responsibility seriously, no ‘addiction recovery’ programme known to man will be effective.

        • Danna

          People need tools to navigate life’s problems and pain. Without them they turn to pain relief. Simple to say, “pull yourself up by your boot straps” but if you have no boot straps, that becomes nothing more than lip service. It’s like saying to a drowning man who has never been taught to swim, “We are fresh out of life preservers, just swim harder you weakling”! I am thankful every day for the man who had the knowledge to recognize a serious problem and the courage to throw us the life line that saved my family. When he found us, we had no boots.

    • Rachel

      I made my “first choice” to smoke a cigarette when I was 13.
      I quit when I was 26. Sixteen years since I’ve smoked… and im craving a cigarette at this moment. At times it’s hard to think of anything else (like when I’m driving in bad traffic). Craving is a serious issue.

      • John

        But do you pick up a pack? And if you did, did you pick up 50 something packs (allegedly)?

        • johnnyrotten.

          I think about it every time I go into a convenience store, I see the packs. Sometimes I think about bumming one as well, but so far I haven’t.

    • Steven Miller

      How quickly an article like this comes up for this actor. I did not see anything close to this on coverage done on Michael Jackson or Whitney Houston. Very funny how conveniently you leave out the link for the negative reactions in response to this tragic event. In reality one celebrity has a “disease” while others are “tarred” and “feathered” the hypocrisy in your reporting Is blatant and shameful.

      • Patroklos Olosc

        Could race be an issue?

        • Chimi Jean

          Of course it is. When it comes to drugs period, black people are demonized. In Hollywood, they’re self-destructive and self-indulgent, whereas white celebrities are victims of their own brilliance, fighting to beat this terrible disease known as addiction.

      • Dan Cook

        Michael Jackson had already lost many fans through repeated child molestation accusations and other strange behavior (dangling children over a railing for example). I’m not much of a Whitney Houston fan personally so I don’t know her story. RIP to both of them though. Although to suggest that there was no coverage on Michael Jackson’s death is pretty misleading, I mean there were multiple documentaries, trials, etc. I’d say his death got plenty of coverage.

        • Chimi Jean

          He’s not talking about coverage in terms of how often reported the news was or how much they were discussed. He means in terms of how addiction is approached in light of their deaths. With MJ and Whitney, we got articles talking about what we can learn from THEIR addictions. In this case, we’re getting articles about what this death teaches us about addiction in general.

          • Dan Cook

            Sorry, I misunderstood.

      • Danna

        I loved Michael and Whitney. Their lives were as tragic in many ways despite their wonderful gifts. I always felt Michael was an easy taget to become victimized by a ruthless and cruel media and still miss him not only for his talent but for the gentle soul he was. I am no fan of the media with their quick to cash in with all of the talking head BS and rating driven reporting. I think holding a licensed professional responsible for his part in Michael’s tragic end was appropriate. It has also been discussed in the media that anyone who supplies drugs to someone who dies of an overdose should face severe sentences. I do hope we continue seeking out those who profit from these premature and tragic endings of our national treasures. The love of Michael’s children speak much louder about his character than do his accusers. I do believe that Michael was painfully damaged in his early years and fought throughout his adult life to overcome his problems. I will never think of him as anything other than an exceptional human being.

    • freyalee

      Good for the people who can get clean and stay clean. Philip Seymour Hoffman was clean for 20+ years. But addiction is a battle that addicts trying to stay clean fight everyday. They have to claw for their sobriety… daily. I see where you are coming from Hayward. It feels like such a disgusting waste when someone you know and love suffers from addiction. It is enraging to think of drug addicts having children who are potentially born addicted to drugs or suffer serious health and brain problems and/or neglected by their drug addicted parents. It ain’t pretty. It’s downright heinous. But it’s a part of our society, it is a condition of the human race. There needs to be empathy. I hope at some point in our evolution as humans we can have a solution for this heart wrenching problem.

    • reddonnaann

      Just because you have a disease does not mean you do not have the responsibility to treat it.

    • Dan Cook

      When addicts/alcoholics use again it starts with an obsession, they remember that instant euphoric feeling that comes when they put the substance in their body and they forget the consequences. Sometimes they may think they can get away with it one more time, or they may be so depressed that even though they know it will be injurious they do it anyhow, because living a live of misery is not living at all. That obsession is very powerful and once they succumb to it and use – then then the cycle of craving and feeding that addiction starts and there is very little hope for them. Normally intervention is necessary to stop the horrific cycle.

  • KareemAbdul

    That darn Taliban was choking the supply of opium to the west but don’t worry, business as usual. War in Afghanistan is keeping the supply rolling.

    When nameless faces are affected it’s their addiction that’s the problem, but remember the bottom line is profit at the cost of the dignity of humanity. This same nonsense went on in Viet Nam, bringing dope back in body bags, Air America operating the dope trade out of Cambodia and so on.

    So sad. Let’s hope this talented actor’s death is not in vain.

    • Michael Van Horn

      Mexico is the heroin producing capital of the western hemisphere and that is where the vast majority of our heroin comes from. It’s much easier than importing it from Asia.

  • K2

    Whether he was compelled by addiction or not, he made the choice to use. The fact that he has three kids makes it a very selfish decision. He might not have been able to do it alone, but he could have chosen to seek help.

  • Child’s POV

    As an adult child of a Heroin addict I have to completely disagree with classifying addiction as a disease. If you take a laxative, as suggested in the article, you will have to spend time on the toilet. If you don’t want to spend time on the toilet don’t take another laxative. If reality is the problem and drugs are the solution, go to therapy and learn how to properly fix your reality. If a person gets cancer they can’t cure it by changing their actions. They need medical treatment. If a person is addicted to drugs there is a solution that they themselves control. STOP TAKING THE DRUG! Yes it’s tempting and yes they have cravings, but they also have will power and self control. The real tragedy in drug addicts is the selfishness. Yes a great actor died, but even worse he left behind children who now have no father. You can say whatever you want about addiction being a disease but when you are the child of an addict, or the spouse, or the parent and your watching that person throw their life away to the drug and ruin children’s lives chasing that high it is a choice. It is a choice that addict is making to take that drug putting their cravings above their children. Only the addict can make the choice to get better. Calling it a disease is making a classification an excuse for an addicts poor choices.

    • Emily

      Well said!!

    • Chicolady

      You are uneducated. It’s not as simple as that. Many do not have the will power to stop, some do. It IS a disease. Please become more informed. Judge not…lest ye be judged. Have compassion, because these people are suffering.

      • reddonnaann

        There is no reason to be mean. It’s her point of view and growing up in a household with addiction is painful. It never hurts to have compassion.

      • Realist

        Where did Child’s show any lack of compassion, Chico? How ’bout taking your own advice – where do you get the nerve to tell Child’s that they should not judge … when your comment itself shows judgement of Child’s …. How much more informed do you suppose people need to be, to know that narcotics and other mind-altering substances do NOT treat the problem; they simply mask the problem – and, the substances create horrific problems for innocent people (relatives of the addict, and Society, as a whole). Giving addicts of any substance the ‘excuse’ of “they’re suffering … they lack willpower … they have ‘a disease” is CLEARLY not working to reduce the number of tragedies due to narcotic addiction. Time to put the blame where it lies … with the addict. It’s certainly not a matter of a lack of education or a matter of being uninformed about what narcotics do to the individual user, and their family …

        • Randy S.

          AMEN Realist. It should be time to put the blame where it lies. I do have compassion for the addicted. I have more compassion for the child-family of said addict.

      • Kurt H

        This subject evokes strong emotions on all perspectives of it. Its not a simple discussion like abortion were there are only 2 sides and a bit of grey forcing a draw. Addiction creates a web of victims that each come to resent the person in the center in varying degrees. Its our own ego, that feeling of being dismissed for something like a drug, that fuels this resentment and perhaps prevents the proper treatment of addiction. The treatment requires people other than the addict to take lumps as well. Easier to vilify the addict than to expose ourselves to this level of pain. I can not blame the Child for their opinion than I can blame Hoffman for his disease of the mind.

    • Patroklos Olosc

      But life is so haaaard! It’s easier and quicker to turn to a dopamine inducing drug than it is to confront life. Here’s a reality check for users – life sucks! Get over it! …that’s easier said than done for the addict. It’s not so simplistic as using or not using. People with low impulse control are most at risk. If I hadn’t learned to control my impulsiveness, I’m sure I could easily have become an addict.

      From the user’s perspective there is no choice. Addiction is a disease, but more psychological than physical. The problem is that as a nation we have an abysmal track record for treating people with psychological issues, so it’s “easier” for “experts” to call it a disease and get insurance companies to pay for treatment that often results in relapses because people aren’t given the proper tools to cope and aren’t told the truth about their “disease”. That’s why groups like NA and AA and the like are vital tools in treating addiction. They understand what it’s like being in the frame of mind that continues the cycle of addition. As a child of an alcoholic father and alcoholic/abusive step-father, I understand your anger and frustration, but that isn’t going to change their behavior. I’ve come to realize that “choice”/”freewill” is an illusion. We act in accordance with how we perceive reality and make “choices” based on the information we currently possess at any given moment. We live in a society where not much thought is given to the consequences of our actions and Ayn Rand’s philosophy plays out on a daily basis. It’s easier to blame the addict than it is to ask why they became addicts in the first place. Just as it is easier to get a quick high than it is to deal with whatever issues the addict is facing. The only thing victims of addicts can do other than not judge, which is incredibly difficult in itself to do (as I find myself still struggling to do), is understand that like any addiction, whatever gives that euphoric feeling is going to win out each and every time because consequences be damned, that is unless they have the support systems in place they need to overcome addiction and/or until they possess the “will power” to face their demons on their own. Most will need some crutch for the rest of their lives. The world is a fucked up place and there will always be addicts looking for the next quick fix. Once we realize the only thing we can change is ourselves and how we think and act, we’ll all be better off!

      • wayhix

        Nothing like a lecture from the all knowing, all seeing and all BS, is there. Rand’s philosophy? Kindly explain where in her philosoplhy she explains why someone could not rationally prefer dying and having NO values. Addiction is a complex phenomenon that we still simply don’t have a complete handle on. Until we do, I think perhaps we should seperate ourselves, whatever our views, from simplistic, political and knee-jerk judgements and concentrate on effective methods to indentify, treat and reduce the harm addicts do to themselves and the lives of others…

        • Melissa Anthony

          couldn’t agree more. Ayn Rand?

          • happy_mouth

            Maybe Ayn Rand’s philosophy was informed by the fact she was a speed addict.

      • JFTjunkie

        The way you have described addiction resonates with me. I am an addict and I didn’t go to medical school or do a crazy amount of research to know if I have a disease or not. After a long battle that began with prescription drugs and ended with meth, this Southern California Soccer Mom was able to put the drugs down. I did not do it alone. I needed to learn what to do without drugs, in a remedial way. I am grateful to NA for showing me a new way to live. I now understand that my biggest problem is ME and that I am impulsive by nature. Nobody ever told me not to be impulsive so I led a life of bad decisions.
        I am convinced that If I ingest any mind altering chemical I have lost my ability to reason and look at a bigger picture. I know I will immediately want MORE and I will fall back to impulsive survival skills and bad decisions. I am drinking th kool-aid that NA is serving and buy into addiction as a disease. I have to, nothing else ever stopped me from using. The belief that addiction is a disease has saved my life and, for me, that is enough.

      • been there done that

        someone else who never lost a child to addiction. Wake up..its a disease that cause physiological changes in the brain. Learn to have compassion and not be so judgemental. Remember your words if you ever have someone you love die from an overdose

    • Matty

      Oversimplification of a very complex topic, I’ve known too many addicts in my life to agree here. Almost think you as an un-compassionate individual who has NOT seen the true face of addiction, and making claims that are untrue. Until you have pain that cannot be numbed, despair without a light at the end of the tunnel, you will not understand. Seek understanding and not judgement. If you are the child of an addict, you are fortunate to escape the cycle, and very unfortunate to harbor ill emotions towards your supposed family, they deserve better.

      • Realist

        “Until you have pain that cannot be numbed, despair without a light at the end of the tunnel, you will not understand.” (directed to Child’s POV)
        Matty, I think it may be said that the pain (of living) most certainly can be numbed … that’s exactly why anyone takes any brain-affecting substance, whatsoever … because it IS numbing. And there in lies the actual problem … some people are under the mistaken impression that life is meant to be lived without pain, without despair; that life should be enjoyed with that delightful feeling of euphoria that narcotics and alcohol (and sometimes, love, and sometimes, skydiving …) so often provide … not so. Life, from birth until death, is absolutely supposed to hurt, to cause despair – and trying to convince yourself or others otherwise is the crux of the problem. Life hurts. Life is full of despair. Get over it. Or, don’t … take heroin … it will certainly numb you … it’s like a little holiday in a syringe. Just don’t expect everyone to indulge your ‘my brain is wired differently … I have a disease … I have pain … I have despair …’ self-pity party. ‘Cause those of us who are not addicted to narcotics or alcohol (or any other numbing substance) are not pain and despair free … and are no better or worse equipped to avoid such numbing substances … we are just a bit less egocentric, in our choices … that’s all.

        • Melissa Anthony

          awful, ugly, uninformed response

        • Danna

          “Cause those of us who are not addicted to narcotics or alcohol (or any other numbing substance) are not pain and despair free … and are no better or worse equipped to avoid such numbing substances … we are just a bit less egocentric, in our choices … that’s all.”
          WOW! Talk about a self righteousness statement!
          I am the child of an alcoholic, went to 12 schools in 12 years, lived in an orphanage, spent time in a detention home, lived with different people who took me in. I lived with my mother only from ages 1-3 and again from 15-18 when the courts gave into my desires to live with her after having disappearing into the streets of Chicago when I was 15. I was sick and tired of living without parents so took life into my own hands. She left my father when I was 3 and fought to obtain custody after obtaining employment and a suitable place to live. The courts denied her and her children’s wishes in favor of an alcoholics family money and power. He eventually became physically abusive before the courts took us. I somehow survived those years without a mother or stable father and could have easily gone the other way. Can you really say that such a child is equipped to deal with a foundation lacking nurturing during developmental years? I was at extremely high risk to fail at life. Instead, I married an alcoholic and struggled with his addiction for the next 15 years while trying my best to raise my two sons. I weighted 73 lbs during the worst years of my husbands addiction and had little to no life tools to survive those years. I loved my kids more than life itself and hung on for dear life. Fortunately I had not inherited the addiction gene and had a family doctor who probed until I confessed to him that my father and husband drank and I felt as though I would not survive their destructive behavior.
          With the help of this good man who cared about me and my sons, my husbands addiction was addressed promptly and after his admission into rehab, I found myself in family therapy with my doctor who was also being affected by his son’s addiction.
          I was the fortunate one in the family. My sister struggled her entire adult life with emotional and mental problems in addition to her addiction. She attempted suicide several times, had 3 failed marriages. No one will ever convince me that she was weaker or “egocentric”, she lacked a foundation that equipped her to deal with what life had thrown her way and had not been as fortunate as myself in having met such a person as my doctor to guide her of offer strength. We lacked basic life tools. Neither of us were egocentric. We were surviving.

          My family and I were beyond fortunate that we had such a man as my doctor in my life who reached out to us in a kind, caring and professional manner who truly understood the needs of such families and stuck his neck out, letting us into his personal life. My husband was saved by him and I believe it was because my husband had a sense of safety and respect for this great man who gave him strength. My husband’s childhood was also very deficient in building a foundation beneath a child that allows for full development.
          Life does involve pain and often tragedy but to say that someone who is having more difficulty in coping has something to do with egocentric deficiencies and negate the fact that perhaps they have broken due to an unusual burden makes me negate anything else you have written. You sound self righteous and harsh in your judgments.
          I loved my father over the moon and back despite his addiction and know his inability to give me what I needed and his mental issues had little to do with his lack of character but more to do with his weak foundation. I know in my heart that if he had been able and had the tools to make life different, he would have done so. He was one of the kindest men I’ve ever known and he loved his family. I don’t know what went on between my parents and don’t care to. My dad was the youngest of 13, he was raised by foster parents who put a sock on his left hand that he used for writing because it was “the hand of the devil” and his mother died in an institution, leaving him to the state. His childhood was much worse than mine. I am 65 yrs old and only one of my friends knows my family history because I still carry guilt due to it even though I am not the addict. I survived it. My sister didn’t. No, she is not egocentric, she is damaged as many are. Many of those of us who are damaged, don’t advertise it and are saved by those who understand and don’t judge us and those we love. Walk a mile in a man’s shoes before you judge.

          • Realist

            Congrats on the … well, what you describe as ‘survival’ … what I would describe as a fairly typical life of the child of egocentric, addicted parents (and take a number, on that. I won’t bore you – especially as I know for every problem I had, there were at least a dozen others who had cigarette burns on their forearms, where their parents put out lit butts … and another dozen or so who likely didn’t make it much beyond HS …).

            Here, BTW, it the most revealing thing you wrote: “Instead, I̲ m̲a̲r̲r̲i̲e̲d̲ [Wait … don’t you mean, ‘I was sold into marriage’ – ’cause surely, it cannot have been your personal choice …] an alcoholic and struggled with his addiction for the next 15 years while trying my best to r̲a̲i̲s̲e̲ m̲y̲ t̲w̲o̲ s̲o̲n̲s̲ [the single most egocentric thing any human can do is willfully reproduce – so, if you were indeed sold into marriage, or impregnated not by choice, you get a free pass to use the ‘NMF’ clause]. I weighted 73 lbs during the w̲o̲r̲s̲t̲ y̲e̲a̲r̲s̲ o̲f̲ m̲y̲ h̲u̲s̲b̲a̲n̲d̲s̲ a̲d̲d̲i̲c̲t̲i̲o̲n̲ [ah, there it is … the ‘NMF’ clause] and had l̲i̲t̲t̲l̲e̲ t̲o̲ n̲o̲ l̲i̲f̲e̲ t̲o̲o̲l̲s̲ t̲o̲ s̲u̲r̲v̲i̲v̲e̲ t̲h̲o̲s̲e̲ y̲e̲a̲r̲s̲ [the evidence here (your post) contradicts this statement, as evidently, you did indeed survive those years …]. I loved my kids more than life itself and hung on for dear life. Fortunately ̲I h̲a̲d̲ n̲o̲t̲ i̲n̲h̲e̲r̲it̲e̲d̲ t̲h̲e̲ a̲d̲d̲i̲c̲t̲i̲o̲n̲ g̲e̲n̲e̲ [if you’re human, you ‘inherited’ the addiction gene. That whole ‘they can’t help themselves … they have an addiction gene’ BS is just that … and just another way those in a ‘rehab’ career help addicts feel better about their egocentric choices … it’s ‘not their fault’] and had a family doctor who probed [interesting choice of words …] until I confessed to him that my father and husband drank and I felt as though I would not survive their destructive behavior.”

            Hmm. ‘Their destructive behaviour’, eh? That tells me all I need to know about your personal defense of your egocentric choices. ‘Not my fault … ‘.

            Here’s the thing … I am absolutely self-righteous and harsh in my judgments. It’s what keeps me from using an egocentric means to relieve pain – both physical, and psychological. ‘Cause, once I hit 16 (my idea of the age of reason …), any step I took [note the ‘I’ – those who are in some way forced get the free ‘NMF’ card] was ‘Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa’.

            ‘Egocentricity’ is not necessarily a deficiency … it can often keep one alive, and can also often keep one from harming others … but when it’s at its worst, it absolutely keeps one blind from occasions when, through ones own choices, one does great harm to others.

            Oh, and on this: “I am 65 yrs old and only one of my friends knows my family history …”. Nope. Now, anyone who reads your comment also knows (or, at least knows what you wrote …). Thanks for sharing! Consider writing a screenplay. I recently watched ‘August: Osage County’; people just love to share in the misery of others, particularly when the misery contains elements of addiction and abuse.

    • reddonnaann

      I sympathize and am sorry for the pain you must have suffered growing up under addicted parents. It’s awful on so, so many levels.

      My father is an alcoholic gambling addict. I was angry and disgusted by him and his choices my whole life. He lost a career, committed felonies, misdemeanors, left his wife to raise five kids, embarrassed us in front of our friends, left us in economic uncertainty, on and on. There is no way I can believe my father, a good, king man who helped so many people in his life, and I mean ~really~ helped people, would choose to do those things. In his eyes… well, I shouldn’t say what he thought because I don’t know, but I know he thinks alcohol is not a problem in his life and despite being in a diaper and wheelchair, he still goes to his bookie.

      I also know this. Once I told my father I had not had a drink in twelve years. He had been told about ten years prior not to drink more than two beers a day due to damage to his liver. He “gave up” drinking then and instead substituted twelve packs of non-alcoholic beer, entire cakes, half galloons of ice cream, bags of mini chocolates, etc. The problem was, if he was someplace where non-alcoholic beer was not available, he would have real beer. In his mind, cutting back was the same as quitting.

      When I told him I hadn’t had a drink in twelve years, he said, “Me, too.” He had a can of Budweiser in front of him at the time. The man lived in a fantasy world. It is the same fantasy world that all addicts live in. And it is a horrible world to raise a kid.

    • Dan Cook

      @Child’s POV – I realize you may be angry, being the adult child of a heroin addict. However, please learn about addiction. You might find some relief in a support group and learn how you can live your life and be happy in spite of what the addict is doing. I completely disagree with your understanding of addiction, right up there you suggest “but they also have will power and self control”, I’ve been in recovery for 20yrs and I’ve never met an addict in the throws of their addiction that had any form of self control when it came to whether or not they were going to take or do that next drug. It’s not an excuse, it’s a disease and the sooner they and everyone else realizes that, the sooner they can get real help. If you have a disease like addiction it requires treatment just like cancer, diabetes, or heart disease. With proper treatment addicts and alcoholics can live normal meaningful lives. Also it doesn’t go away, even after 20yrs. I’ve seen it and experienced it myself.

    • Melissa Anthony

      the haven’t found the drug that fixes it yet –

      • Realist

        Therein lies the problem … there is no drug that ‘fixes’ life. But, there are millions to be made, on the misery of others who are convinced life is supposed to be physically and psychologically pain free, via the pharmaceutical industry. And there are millions of individuals whose income depends upon those who choose a ‘DOC’ to relieve them of life’s miseries …

    • peppermint p

      you took the words right out of my mouth, I will feel as you stated to eternity and by labeling it a disease, the weak willed will continue to be enabled by that classification. It’s all about priorities and who has time to “babysit” these adults, GOD knows there are enough children that lack the supervision they NEED. The REHAB industry probably loves the disease label, CHACHING.

    • Kakr

      Mind over matter, that is the point. One can very certainly choose to overcome any dis-ease. Including cancer. We MUST realize this and go within but many choose not to. Be well all!

    • been there done that

      You don’t know what you are talking about. Have some compassion..Glad your life is so perfect. No wants says “I think I want to be a heroin addict when I grow up”. There are no happy addicts. They suffer more than you could ever imagine. I buried my young adult son who turned to drugs after his brother died. In and out of Rehabs. He wanted to be normal but couldn’t shake the demons that inhabited him ever since his brothers death.

      • Realist

        “Demons that inhabited him ever since his brothers death.” Ah … the ‘NMF’ clause …

    • johnnyrotten.

      My mother and her family were addicts; some of my cousins still are. (alcohol, heroin, coke, crack gambling) I certainly do not blame my mother for her addictions because that’s how she dealt with her pain form abuse. Gambling is how she dealt with other things. I get it. I had a hard time getting to this point but the key ingredient for me was letting go. Letting go of the pain she inadvertently caused me by realizing she was a human before she was my mother and that she did what she could with what she had. She had a disease called depression. These people, that’s what they are before and after they are mom and dad, are human. They aren’t magical, they are not super heroes, they are just regular humans trying to cope. Some are ill equipped to cope and going to therapy is a lot easier said then done.

    • Liz

      Dear POV. Then why my making the choice to try drugs not lead to addiction? I am not wired that way; I don’t have the “disease.”

  • Marianne Herrmann

    The quote by Brand is chilling….sometimes I think deeply sensitive people are more likely to become addicts.

    • Jessica Normile

      It is true. Very sensitive and creative people are more likely to suffer mental illness like addiction.

      • Melissa Anthony

        it’s not a mental illness – it’s physiological just like heart disease – that’s the point of the article

        • Robert Weston

          Mental illness is also physiological. Substance abuse is a diagnosable disorder listed within the DSM just as mental illness is. The point of the analogy to diabetes is to inform those who believe that substance abuse (and mental illness, for that matter) are not “controllable”, that is, people can no more easily turn it off just as they cannot turn off their diabetes. Genetics and certain predispositions are proven to contribute to the likelihood of mental illness and substance abuse, validating their classifications as diseases.

    • Greywalker

      It’s worse when you have a mental illness, troubled upbringing, and suffer from addiction. Many I’ve known do not survive, I hang by a thread.

      • marmie

        Greywalker, May your thread never fray.

      • Marianne Herrmann

        And yet you are extremely astute in your comment. So that seems to suggest that you have a better hold on your circumstances than you seem to purport or profess.

  • Jon

    I think his main point in the article is that most people won’t experience addiction per say. For those that do their brains are wired differently and much more susceptible to the effects of addiction. It is not always about will power. The tragedy for Mr. Hoffman and for a lot of us in regards to him was that we LOVED the guy. He was one hell of an actor. Too bad his addiction was becoming secretive and someone that loved him didn’t intervene. Addiction is a life of horrors. I hope that any addicts reading this just get out there and ask someone for help…it doesn’t matter how many times you relapse just start over and pray for courage to face the demons.

    • Jessica Normile

      yes, and then using these drugs just further wires the brain to addictive behavior

    • Rosie

      Sometimes it doesn’t matter how many times a loved one intervenes… the addiction is stronger and wins.

  • davegeorge

    Does anyone else want to vomit every time one of these _ _ _ holes kills them self and then we have to listen to fans and addicts whine for a week about how tragic it is.

  • davegeorge

    The advice “don’t do drugs” is only simplistic when compared to the elaborate construct of rationalizations and enablers it takes to convince someone injecting heroin is a viable option.

  • ou812

    Dudes I just got to say he knew what he was getting himself into. I mean really, he freaking bought not 1, not 2, but 10 baggies of freaking herion… what the hell.. Dude he was ready to carry out a mission, and he did…

  • Panthera

    PLEASE DO AN ARTICLE ON “THE SINCLAIR METHOD” Claudia Christian would love an interview. Check out the 3C Foundation.

  • Angie Klupenger

    I just wanted to say I am so sorry to family and friends for your lose and addiction in any rate is hard to get through and then when someone dies due to addiction of drug and its someone you love its even harder my prayer and thoughts are with you all!!

  • Lynn

    What myth that addiction is a lower-socioeconomic disease? How many celebrities had to die before that was obvious? Just pick a decade. Marilyn Monroe had no money woes. Jimi Hendrix wasn’t hurting for cash. Andy Gibb was rolling in it. River Phoenix was on the brink of superstardom. Kurt Cobain’s genius scored him a platinum lifestyle. There was always plenty of Wine in Amy’s House. You get the idea. The difference between rich addicts and poor addicts is the rich can afford treatment and hire people to help with whatever stresses them out. They may also feel they have more to live for and therefore better adhere to their plan. But anyone who tries drugs knows the risk is there to become addicted. Still they do it, rich or poor, and thus begins another tragedy.

  • mcarter1979

    I know nothing of this man’s mental condition, but as a brother of a heroin addict, I can say this article hits close to home. Yes, my brother has a family, did not start using until he was in his late 30’s. His wife, his children (my nieces) suffered terribly. I suffered. Trying to get through to someone who used to be rational, level headed, was now impossible. There were excuses, there was blaming. His addiction consumed him. I know his family, our love, meant everything to him, but we simply were not enough. The drug came first. He stole from his children’s piggy bank, he lied and manipulated to get money, the drug was his focus, it was his only true need. For those who have not seen addiction firsthand, do not judge. I thought like you. Yes, he had a choice to never use. No one disputes that. But after that choice was made, destruction sets in, and no ability to make “choices” sometimes can stop it.

    I’m proud to say that today my brother is sober. But everyday I live in fear. Fear of his relapse, fear he will be found dead. I’m terrified that I will have to become the a father to his children, and attempt to repair the pain (though it will be futile) of his death and addiction. I know that addiction is a disease of the brain. Its all consuming. What I will say is that I also know that addiction often strikes those who are suffering a mental illness. Its a way to escape, to deal with life. As we found out with my brother, he was dealing with his mental illness by self medication. This is not unusual for an addict. Look at the vast numbers of addicts and you will find bipolar disorder, depression, etc. Despite their vast resources of wealth, most celebrities suffer as well. And interesting enough, its the ones we find most brilliant in life who have a sorted past of mental illness. Look at artists, musicians, writers. Most who we lost to addiction were mentally ill, yet considered brilliant or genius. We stigmatize the idea of mental illness rather than help those get the help they need.

    Now, do I take blame for my brothers addiction, absolutely not. That is his burden to carry and his alone. Do i know what contributed to it, absolutely. Do I know what pushed him to initially use now, yes. But his choice to become an addict was his. But I love him no less. And I don’t stand and judge, and nor should you, for next time, it may be someone you love.

    • anonymous

      that original CHOICE made is why I cannot buy into the “it’s a disease” argument. I watched, and fought with, a close relative who chose to become an alcoholic, so I’ve seen what it can do, close up. I have no tolerance for addicts – they are incredibly selfish.

      • rejjie

        I can in no way speak to your personal experience but if someone were to make a choice to have unprotected sex and contracts HIV does that choice make the disease invalid? If someone is overweight and develops diabetes did they choices that person made mean that diabetes isn’t a real disease? There are a lot of medical problems that have roots in the choices people make but that does not change the simple fact that the result is a disease that has to be treated.

      • Liz

        As a mother of an addict I will say that it is not a choice. No more than being gay is a choice. We must see this as a disease, an illness.

      • mc

        Your intolerance shows quite clearly. That lack of compassion will get you someday. Lots of people drink without becoming alcoholics, quite likely nobody worries about addiction with that first drink. I am the daughter and granddaughter of alcoholics- and I am not any kind of addict myself. I understand the frustration of the behaviors they engage in, and what it does to their loved ones. But it IS a disease, whether or not YOU choose to accept that fact.

      • Chris Edwards

        Keep your mind closed, like many do, sheepy!

    • Aloha Nan

      Thank you for sharing your experience. I have a son that has been battling addiction. You described my feelings perfectly.

    • Somewhocares

      As a mother of an addict its a horrible disease and I pray that every day my son will survive, I tried but I cannot control him, I cannot cure him. He was clean for over 8 years and has relapsed again, people do judge me but he is my son and I love him but I cannot help him. He has a son that was taken away because of this addiction. This article has hit home to me

    • DebbieCotter

      Great post. Inevitably, we have to form a hard shell emotionally, distance ourselves from the drama of the addict. I was blamed for years for my husband’s alcoholism even though he comes from a long line of alcoholics. Sometimes I wish there was a rehab for the victims of abuse. How nice it would be to go somewhere for a month or more and have great councelling, cooked meals and peace from the turmoil.

      • mosiedotes

        have you thought about alanon? i know it benefits a LOT of people.

    • KareemAbdul

      Outstanding. thanks for sharing your gritty tale. Best wishes to you and your family.

      use “sordid,” I think that’s the word you were seeking. Peace

  • Realist

    “Diabetes is a disease of the pancreas. Addiction is a disease of the brain,” he [Dr. David Smith] said. If you don’t think addiction is a disease, Smith said, “then take a laxative, sit on the toilet and try not to have a bowel movement.” Yes, a simplistic analogy, he said, “but effective.”

    Yup … but Dr. Smith, unless you have constipation, you don’t need a laxative … so your analogy is not only simplistic, it’s not exemplary of addiction. Addiction is not the disease, it is a side-effect – a symptom of trying to treat the disease (that taking drugs can cause brain damage is not questioned, here … ). The disease is a disease of depression or of the soul and imagination … the addict is taking a substance to relieve some other symptom (no matter what that substance might be, and no matter whether the substance is helpful, or harmful. I, for example, take a daily walk with my dogs to relieve depression … I know many who treat any number of problems – physical, psychological, etc. – by over-eating … etc.

    • Dan Cook

      I didn’t really like the laxative analogy and I agree it doesn’t fit. A better analogy is a diabetic that doesn’t think he’s a diabetic and keeps eating high sugar foods because he loves the taste of sweet things. In spite of it making him sick, he continues to indulge and finally ends up in a coma from high blood sugar. Unless this person can realize that they cannot safely have sugar and they their medicine regularly (insulin) they will probably die.
      Realizing that addiction is a disease like diabetes is a good first step, once the addict stops using (detox, treatment, chained in the closet, whatever), then they can work on taking their regular medicine (AA, NA, Support group, whatever). These support groups with people that are fighting the similar fight, help them to not forget that they can never safely use again and provide an alternative to using when problems arise.

    • Kurt H

      Semantics really. He did state the laxative analogy was simplistic but it does serve to teach those who do not understand the urge to do something you do not want to do. Only addicts can honestly look at a drug and say “this is going to kill me” then do it anyway.

      • Dan Cook


  • Edward17

    It is so true about the stigma. I’ve had good liberal friends talk about addicts as the scum of the earth. Literally. Or say they don’t deserve help. There is help out there. But I often think we live in a culture of addiction–trying to escape reality at every turn, afraid of silence, without meaning.

    • Kurt H

      I question how liberal your friends are first off. But addiction trains you to desensitize yourself to guilt to remove your empathy from all interactions. Only then can you feed the beast It is this character altering symptom that puts most of us off. When you have been reduced to a “means to an end” in the life of someone you love you tend to get jaded regardless of your ideology.

  • Lylah Boling

    This discussion HAS been going on far longer than we would like to admit and as usual it gives an element for debate. IT IS SAD about ADDICTION ok, and it is also a pain for families and friends of those who are addicted.
    THIS IS ABOUT a very talented man who was loved and appreciated by many, who has died. His loss will be felt by those of us who appreciated his works and I’m sure by his distraught family.
    IT IS NOT or business at this time to take free license to USE this mans loss as a debate topic.
    My prayers to the family at their time of sadness

    • Kurt H

      Your right we should avoid this very painful subject and get back to ignoring it so we can celebrate the life it snuffed out.

      • Lylah Boling

        YEP, that’s what I was saying !
        WHY, every time a person with a famous NAME dies does the general PUBLIC go all wonky, and think they can voice their concerns.
        Debate, Talk, REHASH, over and over all YOU want to.
        There are people dying every day SO, why is it SO important to use this particular man to OPEN the proverbial “CAN OF WORMS” about addictions?
        This is not a NEW problem.

        • Kurt H

          Because that’s who people are. We wait for something to polarize us on a massive scale. If I got on Facebook and said my friend died of a heroine overdose only my friends and family would know about it and less than half would care. We identify with celebs because we feel we know them somehow. When one of them dies from an overdose its like we all lost a friend regardless of the fact that none of us knew him. Sorry for the sarcasm of the earlier post but this is exactly the time to discuss this. When it will do some good.

          • Lylah Boling

            YES! I suppose you are right in what you are saying. I also BELIEVE addiction can be BEATEN and DELT with for ALL.
            It just sickens me that it takes a LARGE STAR to fall before eyes are opened and then the actual tragedy of their death itself is sort of brushed away, like the PROBLEMS they had was somehow more important than the person.
            I would love to SHOUT every day that ADDICTIONS are KILLING many! CHILDREN are DYING! because we do not want to admit we have problems with systems breakdowns.
            MANY of the prescription drugs that are legal are even being used in replacement of this particular demon. BUT, it is not a new thing by a long shot. MAYBE this will get it out there but that is part of the problem, WAITING on a movie star or legend, or a music icon to realize what should already be in the limelight itself.

  • Loxfin Kjarr

    It was not tragic, he was just a junkie who paid for his fix by acting… quit trying to make a saint out of a sinner so to speak. It did not teach us a damn thing we didn’t already know. Because someone is charismatic and can charm other makes them no better or worse of a person. I look at everything as face value and his life choices tells me he is not worth all this stink everyone is making out of it.

  • themotivat

    On one hand the tragic reality of addiction, on the other bring on another addiction – – marijuana

  • Sam

    the complexity of addiction cannot be summed up and opined in a comment. it’s like anything else you see, we are but humans and we need one another. for me, it is easier to condemn the cruel than those who try to escape it. but the troll is as sick as the addict and needs help just as well. rest well mr. hoffman, i know you were a good man!

  • dumbfounded

    Not that it matters much but, I am the widow of an addict. His diseases were bipolar I disorder and obsessive cimpulsive disorder…the real one…NOT what everyday individuals say when they want things neat. He couldn’t use if he was taking his meds, he perfered the “cure” providwd by street drugs and alcohol. He began drinking at age 14 he switched addictions from time to time but there was rarely/if ever a time he was completely sober. I used alcohol with my own set of “rules”. when We began discussing a family I dwcided to sober up. Ive been completely sober for over 14 years. It wasn’t a choice he could take, we. (I supported him, took him to meetings , fought, begged, and tried counseling, therapy, law forced NA and AA, handed him his meds) eventually itbecame abusive, and to keep my children I had to leave…I recognised this on my own. He was never going to change no matter how hard he tried or how much he lost. He was a broken soul. We divoriced, but we stayed connected, I still helped when I could, I didn’t push child support, I didn’t lrt the kids alone with him but allowed them to see him. i drove them to him. ultimatelt there was an intervention. He went to in house rehab, for a week, drank to celebrate getting out. Went back for two months. Was told his liver mifht not be able to handle detox. He made it through, and died three weeks later of an over dose. Ir is an illness, it is a choice, it is a craving, it is a compulsion, it is something not to be judged but to bring to light, it is something that takes away everything. I still crave but I fight some can some cannot. It doesn’t mean they are weak just different. The loss of my best friend was horrible, watching my children loose their father not once but several times to addiction is heart wrenching. I just am deeply offened that people ONLY care when it is a celebrity. Then it will be talked about people.will shou brash judgements, lump.people into one or two catagories then sweep it under the carpert as soon as the is a new tragedy to argue about.

  • jodyg218

    Did you miss your class on reading comprehension? There is a link to the entire article highlighted, just above the excerpt.

  • HisChild

    Until people realize that they are trying to “fill a round hole with a square peg” they will never be “well” or free.

  • Bwin51

    Where were his kids and wife when he was doing this? Addiction is all about the addict and no amount of loving family gets in the way of the drug the addict needs. So sad. I feel deeply for those little kids. What a selfish father.

    • Bossa_Nova

      What wife? He wasn’t married.

  • Amanda Mascia

    The REAL question here is “Who is the doctor that prescribed an-ex heroin addict opiates?” Why as a society do we condone the introduction of opiates to the masses as “healthcare” then turn our backs when they become addicted and turn to illegal drugs to match the fix they got from the system?

    • DJ


  • helena olejnik

    Phil was a sweetie. I loved him . Heart and soul he was lovely. May the angels carry him to heaven. RIP Philip Seymour Hoffman

  • LT

    I can only repeat myself over & over- JUST SAY NO TO RELAPSE! The long list of those who left us before their time…..the “27 Club” and many more, did it after a period of sobriety- thus bring their lethal dose DOWN!….It takes less to kill yourself after you clean up!!!!DO NOT RELAPSE! Stay connected and go to meetings- lessen your stress ANYTHING, but that!

  • summer

    I’m all for compassion. It’s something we all definitely need more of. While I don’t think it’s compassionate to call anyone (especially a dead man) anything derogatory, Philip Seymour Hoffman says that he “got panicked” when he was 22 and stopped using. I’m sure that was a very difficult and painful choice, but a choice none the less. My father who died of cancer, on the other hand, I’m sure would have done anything no matter how painful and difficult to put himself in remission. He did not have that opportunity. I think it is possible for us to be compassionate towards addicts while still believing that they have the power, through a series of choices, to free themselves of what is killing them and destroying those around them. Those with fatal diseases do not have that opportunity yet. There is power and blame in our ability to chose. Maybe instead of focusing on the blame (as many have done in the case of PSH), we can choose to focus on the power to change.

  • Aloha Nan

    They should be calling the Doctors on the carpet. There are too many people that start out with prescription drugs. Opiates are not a good option for long term pain, but doctors continue to prescribe them for people with chronic pain ie. back pain! You start with a pill for pain … it works pretty well and you feel better. Then a week or two later it’s not enough to stop the pain so you need to take 2 pills. Then a few weeks later you need to up the dosage again, and so on… I have 2 family members that started their addiction via legitimate prescriptions.

  • MarkO

    The problem is society promotes drug use in movies and in the media, aspects of society want to legalize certain drugs for recreational use. But they are causing a disconnect between the drug and the addiction.

  • Karl Schneider

    poppys were used for medical uses for centuries for stomach aches, then the resin was extracted and eaten for pain killers and the pleasure,then it was smoked for more then people were becoming more addicted to it and morphine came along to make it easier to consume for pain than smoking it. more addicts appeared and heroin became” the savior” to cure morphine methodone is used to cure heroin addiction but only to become an addiction itself… seems people have continuously found a better substance to become addicted to and there will always be people who will use it. to call it a disease i believe is dishonest and is making people believe that they had no control or choice…like catching the flu. it is not a natural occuring sickness…there is no “heroin virus” waiting to attack you.sorry but we do it to our selves,we reap what we sow and there is a lot of sowing being done

  • Shelley Lynn Leal

    This is just sad. It’s lonely being an addict, he died alone. I think mental illness exists and is dealt with by whatever easier in reach to fill that emptiness.

  • T J

    As a child of addicts who has also battled addiction- & won, I can say some people are stronger than others. That being said I know in order to screw up after this many years would take will power to do wrong! It would be on purpose not a ‘backslide’!! Not falling off the wagon- but jumping off! Is the desire there? Sure- but its so far removed from who I am now there is no way I could do that to myself, my kids, my friends & family. My dad got sober after a ‘leaving las vegas’ type of alcoholism that was destroying all of us- most especially him. I thought my dad would die drinking & he almost did. I never thought he could get sober- but he did. Addicts need compassion & TOUGH LOVE. And when you’ve dealt with it for so long it gets harder & harder to have compassion. So dont judge someones lack of compassion- they’ve lost it little by little with the lies, stealing, abuse & all the other things addicts impose on their loved ones.

  • DebbieCotter

    Although I am very sorry for the death of PSH, I also want to highlight the lives of the addict/alcoholic’s family. I have been married for 39 years to a recovering alcoholic for 24 years. My son also battled addiction to pain medication 4 years ago, and is now clean and sober after a month in rehab. I know first hand what it is like to have to be the responsible one, the one who is SOBER and living through addiction hell from the opposite side. More needs to be said about what the wife/mother/husband goes through. It is not fun. After attending many, many ALANON meetings, I had had enough. I was not the one who needed to learn how to live with the addict. Another point is that even though the addict/alcoholic is biologically clean, they struggle with addiction of other things, cars, electronics, expensive hobbies, food etc. I am so sorry for Mr. Hoffman’s girlfriend and their 3 kids. They are left with the memories, and I hope they achieve peace in time and feel no guilt about his death.

  • mosiedotes

    i wish that more people accepted addiction as a disease or a mental illness. perhaps alcoholics anonymous would not have to be anonymous, and rehabilitation would be more accessible and affordable. alcoholics need support from everyone around them.

  • Chris Edwards

    I didn’t know too much about Mr. Hoffman, prior to his demise, except that he was one of the few modern actors I like, based entirely on his turns as Truman Capote in the “Capote” film and Lester Bangs in “Almost Famous”. No one has any one answer that can clear up addictions, it’s like trying to decode the complex genetics that cause things like ALS and Alzheimer’s, but you can guarantee that researchers and scientists are studying these illnesses every day to better understand them. Quality work that goes on in private and is not reported in mainstream publications. That being said, Mr. Hoffman was a true talent who had his demons, as we all do; just that some of them come in different forms for different folks. His addiction was not a moral failing, nor the mark of a selfish person. You people who reiterate asinine comments that smack of such rhetoric need to examine yourownselves. I’m sure none of you are without demons, eh?
    On one hand, at least his battles/struggles are over, but on the other, so soon to lose someone who brought so many people so much joy. A similar (but even sadder) fate happened a little over 11 years ago to another talented artist taken away too soon through the throes of addiction, Mr. Layne Staley. Layne also had the class and dignity to try and fight his demons outside of the public (and tabloid camera lens) eye. Truly tragic.


Lisa Aliferis

Lisa Aliferis is the founding editor of KQED’s State of Health blog. Since 2011, she’s been writing and editing stories for the site. Before taking up blogging, she toiled for many years (more than we can count) producing health stories for television, including Dateline NBC and San Francisco’s CBS affiliate, KPIX-TV. She also wrote up a handy guide to the Affordable Care Act, especially for Californians. Her work has been honored for many awards. Most recently she was a finalist for “Best Topical Reporting” from the Online News Association. You can follow her on Twitter: @laliferis

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