Read “Philip Seymour Hoffman and Me” by Tommy Rosen

At The Partnership, we, like so many others, were heartbroken by the death of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman as the result of a heroin overdose. 

Recently, our friends at In The Rooms shared with us a beautiful piece about Hoffman, penned by addiction recovery expert Tommy Rosen. In “Philip Seymour Hoffman and Me,” Tommy explains a unique connection with the actor, and shares his love and gratitude for Hoffman’s legacy. We were touched by Tommy’s perspective, and are proud to share it with you.



“Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Me” by Tommy Rosen

Philip Seymour Hoffman Dead HeroinThe temptation is to try to explain it in scientific terms. We want to understand the mystery of a man’s demise, particularly a man who had achieved so much in his career and who, by the nature of his work, was known across the globe. One thinks if this could happen to him with his successes and his fame, his family and all the blessings of his existence, then surely no one is safe. We are sobered once again as we face the misunderstanding that one’s outer world is an indicator of happiness rather than their inner world, which is the only place where true success can be measured. If we have been in the habit of having and doing, we look at others who seem to be doing a lot and having a lot with envy. Wow, look at them go!

Part of what hit so deeply about this loss was the emotional depth that Hoffman had plumbed to show us something about ourselves. He regularly visited emotional environments that few actors will ever choose to visit in their entire careers. We, therefore, felt so much “with him” that it is almost as if we have lost a friend and a teacher. It is mystifying and disorienting to lose a teacher to a dis-ease that people assume indicates moral weakness. On some level, many feel that he let them down. How could he do it? How could someone like him fall from the place we had appointed him to?

I’ll give you one possible explanation of what happened. Maybe, like so many, he was simply enthralled to death by the feeling produced by heroin as it seduces the human nervous system into the illusion that this is somehow better than living. You think that’s weakness? Whoever you are, wherever you are, whatever your background, you could not possibly stand toe-to-toe against this craving if it was initiated within you. Though you may not have experienced such a craving, doesn’t make you better or stronger than another person who does. BUT if you have experienced this craving, you know what I am talking about. It’s bigger than you. It’s like having to fight a full-grown tiger with your hands tied behind your back.

So why now? How could something like this happen after such a long period of abstinence? I believe the answer requires a deeper understanding and respect for the addiction frequency, an energetic attunement, if you will, that holds a person captive and vulnerable to relapse unless it is dealt with on a regular basis (read: everyday). Much the same way a diabetic needs insulin, people who have crossed the line into acute addiction seem to need a few things, even after long periods of abstinence. The 2 main ingredients are a spiritual path and a community to support it. This is the foundation. Then, with the foundation in place it is an absolute requirement that one spend one’s life expanding upon that foundation. This can be the most joyous of journeys for it is a daily pathway to your heart. Some, like me, find it in the 12-Steps and yoga, others find it in other spiritual paths or therapeutic processes. Addiction is a disease of lack and we seem to need a spiritual experience to become whole again. It is also a dis-ease of isolation and so, we must come into community, common-unity, to draw upon necessary resources and to avoid being pulled down into morbidity. These are the first solutions to this problem. Whether you have struggled with addiction or care about someone who has, please bring yourself to accept this. In my experience, it holds as True.

Philip Seymour Hoffman died at 46 years old. I am 46 years old. Previously, he was 23 years sober. In June, barring the unseen, I will be 23 years sober. To say that his death hit home for me would be an understatement. Please do not let the message of his death be that the 12-Steps or other forms of recovery don’t work. He is in a small percentage of people who stay sober that long and then relapse. The great majority of people who make it to 5 years of recovery (85%) will not relapse (Source: Psychology Today), Somehow, he got cut off from the light. Somehow, he drifted back into a behavior which kills people.

Strangely, I will miss Philip. It’s strange because I never met him. I lament the loss of yet another brother to addiction. Along with the teachings he left us in his movies, please hear his final teaching: Stay vigilant on this path of recovery. Work your program, whatever that means to you, to the best of your ability. Keep your connection to each other and when you find the road to your own heart, walk it everyday.

R.I.P. Philip Seymour Hoffman.

With Love and Gratitude,

Tommy Rosen


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    March 24, 2014 at 6:49 PM

    I’ve struggled with opiate dependency for the majority of my life so I know what Phillip was going through. I currently receive medication assisted treatment and have for the past 4 years. Right now this is want works for me. It’s frustrating dealing with people who have no understanding if what it’s like to dealing with this addiction. My methadone is very much like insulin. Currently I’m trying to find health insurance that will help me with the cost of my treatment but unfortunately most insurance plans don’t cover it. You have to be living at poverty level to receive help with it. I do not fall into this category so I am not faced with having to purchase health insurance that won’t help me with the cost of my methadone.

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    March 5, 2014 at 12:43 AM

    very well written, I also feel loss from his death, his work spoke to me genuinely and his characters always grabbed my attention. I too am a recovering addict (6 yrs) of opiates, but I have built a support group around me to keep accountability in check. Also I have tremendous desire to be sober, everyone is unique in their path of recovery, hopefully we can all find the support and determination to successfully complete that path and live long sober lives until God brings us home. Thank you Tommy.

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